Hemp opportunities fulfill Holmes homecoming dreams
Pratt native Jenifer Holmes has come home to help hemp farmers in southcentral and western Kansas. And she brings with her a wealth of experience and knowledge of the industry that helped her find her passion after searching for many years.
As the owner of Plain Jane Hemp Company, she is a sales partner at Shining Star Farms near Haviland, helping to produce sustainable hemp from 300 that are planted there. Holmes serves as a testing consultant, advising clients from across the nation and in Europe on best sales options. She is also the Western Regional Manager for Kaycha Labs in Florida, a state-of-the-art testing service for licensed cannabis and CBD producers and distributors.
Holmes grew up in Pratt, graduating from Pratt High School in 2002, but she said she was never quite sure what she wanted to do with her life.
"I got a degree in cosmetology, joined the Navy, went to nursing school, worked as a single mom, eventually found myself working as a nurse for a hip and knee surgeon," Holmes said. "More and more I just found myself not in agreement with some of the practices I was seeing and watching. I saw surgery as the cure-all for pain when a lot of the patients were getting CBD oil and that was what was working for them."
Holmes, who lived in Oregon for seven years, spent a few days house-sitting for a friend there who had plants needing care. She found she loved gardening and working with plants, and from there decided to increase her knowledge about plants grown for health improvement.
This new interest took her to a position working in a CBD oil extraction lab in Oregon, networking with hemp seed breeders and learning all she could about growing hemp for fiber and medicinal uses.
"I just blossomed in this industry," Holmes said. "I found my passion, and since then I have logged many hours researching, collecting information and learning this industry. I have put my heart and soul into my work and want to help others produce this amazing crop."
Holmes came home to Pratt with her children Chase, 12, and Camrynn, 7, last year when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. They are students at Skyline Schools.
"This is my home, this is where I want to raise my kids," she said. "But I also know now what it is I want to do with my life. I guess you could say I found my roots."
Just last week, Holmes helped process hemp bio-mass, separating chaff and cleaning Shining Star Hemp Co. seeds, a first crop grown in Kiowa County. Holmes guided the first year of hemp production there through the process of improving soil conditions, weed control, plant nutrients, planting and harvest timing, THC testing, finding appropriate equipment, matching seed to climate and choosing irrigation methods.
"There are many factors to consider, and Shining Star Hemp is trailblazing large-scale hemp farming," Holmes said.
As the owner of Plain Jane Hemp Company, Holmes is able to share the wealth of her years of research and work in the hemp industry with others who want to grow hemp in Kansas but are overwhelmed by the regulations and start-up requirements.
"I consult with every new client about when to test, how to test, what labs to use. There is a lot of pre-harvest compliance testing required, and I can help with that," Holmes said.
On Jan. 8, commercial industrial hemp licenses become available for the first time in Kansas, a step up from industrial pilot program licenses of last year. Holmes sat in on meetings in which approval was given to move the crop forward in the state. According to Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam, in 2020, more than 3,000 acres of the 10,000 that were licensed were planted, but only 950 acres were harvested.
Beam said drought in western Kansas caused much of this loss.
According to KDA statistics, farmers in Butler County filed for 10 industrial hemp licenses in 2020, while Stafford County had 5 licenses filed, Kiowa County 3, and in Pratt County there were no licenses filed in 2020.
Holmes said she hopes to help increase commercial filings this year by promoting the many reasons to grow hemp, such as fiber, seed production and other sustainable uses, as well as for CBD oil.
"I really encourage everyone to grow fiber," she said. "The CBD oil market is saturated, but we can make so many things out of hemp fiber. It is a natural, sustainable product and we need more of it."
Holmes said hemp is used in making shoes, carpet, fabric and much more.
She said she is able to help prospective hemp growers navigate compliance packages that include USDA and State Department of Agriculture registrations, rules and regulations, as well as seed certification processes. Holmes may be reached by email at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or on her Facebook pages at Jenifer Holmes, Plain Jane Hemp Company, LLC or Shining Star Hemp Co.