Hemp never ceases to amaze us with its versatility and ability to solve many of the earth’s problems. One such problem has affected many farmers in a region of Italy.
Let’s take a journey to Taranto, Italy. This gorgeous region faces the Ionian Sea and is known for its three natural peninsulas. Population 200,154. A massive steel plant sits in Taranto, claiming the future of some hard-working farmers.
Vincenzo Fornaro, a farmer in this region, owns a large strip of land that once played home to 600 sheep. In 2008, his ricotta and meat business was shattered when dioxin, a toxic chemical, was found in his sheep by Italy’s government. His herd was slaughtered and there was no immediately foreseeable way to get back in business.
The culprit? Contaminants leaking from Europe’s largest steel plant.
Fornaro decided to take an unusual path towards solving his soil contamination problem. He planted industrial hemp plants in hopes they would filter out the heavy metals.
This idea isn’t as far-fetched as you may imagine. Hemp plants have already been planted in Chernobyl to remove radioactive compounds strontium and cesium.
How Does Hemp Remove Toxins?
Through a process called phytoremediation, hemp plants can naturally absorb contaminants into its roots where it is stored or transformed into a harmless substance. This process can take a long time since you must grow plants in soil that is not exactly ideal for plant growth but hemp is persistent and adaptable, making it an increasingly popular option for cleaning soil contaminants.
“We must innovate and develop in a way that’s ecologically sound,” Fornaro told an interviewer.
Near the very steel factory that devastated his farm, Fornaro is building a new future with a plant that can be utilized to make thousands of products. Here’s hoping the best success possible for Fornaro and other farmers in the same situation.