Freedomizer Radio interview – August 2014
Barbara Filippone interview on Freedomizer Radio discussing concerns in the textile market.
Freedomizer Radio interview – August 2014
Barbara Filippone interview on Freedomizer Radio discussing concerns in the textile market.
Could hemp have a future in Garfield County?
Amanda H Miller, Citizen Telegram, January 9th, 2014
Colorado farmers can register for licenses to grow industrial hemp starting March 1. But will Garfield County growers pursue it?
“It’s hard to know what to expect,” said Ron Carleton, deputy commissioner for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. “There seems to be a fair amount of interest. The last few months we’ve gotten a number of general inquiries.”
He said he didn’t know how many of those inquiries were coming from the Western Slope or how serious any of them were.
When voters passed Amendment 64 in 2012, they didn’t just vote to allow recreational marijuana sales, but also cultivation of industrial hemp – a crop that does not contain the drug component of marijuana, THC. It’s commonly used in fabrics, paper, rope, soaps and oils.
Legality and logistics
Industrial hemp used to be a major crop in the United States. The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper and the government launched the “Hemp for Victory” campaign to urge farmers to grow it during World War II. In the 1970s, farmers were required to get a permit from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency to legally cultivate it.
“The DEA doesn’t issue the permits,” Carleton said. “That’s the biggest problem.”
But the U.S. Attorney General’s office issued a statement last year that it wouldn’t intervene in hemp and marijuana cultivation in states that legalized it.
Some Colorado farmers have grown hemp crops without interference, even though state regulations didn’t yet allow it.
“I don’t know of anyone in our area who is seriously talking about growing it,” said Pat McCarty, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension agent.
The risk farmers would take is likely to be a significant deterrent, he said.
Farmers have every reason to be wary, said Barbara Filippone, founder of EnviroTextiles in Glenwood Springs. Her company imports finished hemp products for local textile manufacturing.
While Filippone is confident there will eventually be a local hemp industry, she believes farmers need to be careful even after they get state permits.
Licenses won’t make Colorado hemp farmers immune to federal prosecution, Carleton agreed.
“There’s no question that one of the challenges is going to be getting seed,” he said. “The federal government said it wouldn’t interfere with growing, but I don’t know how they will feel about using the U.S. Postal Service to transport seed.”
Will local farmers try?
Other than general questions and casual conversation, McCarty said he doesn’t know of any Garfield County farmers who are seriously considering hemp.
“People are always interested in alternative crops,” he said. “If you’re on the leading edge, it could be lucrative. But realistically, we don’t have the infrastructure for the industry.”
That’s a major barrier. Local agriculture experts have tried to grow sugar beets on the Western Slope and couldn’t make the numbers work because crops have to be hauled too far. Sunflower seeds were introduced in Northeast Colorado with some success years ago. But the market has dried up without good marketing and nearby processing facilities.
“Besides, we don’t have a lot of true farmers left in our area,” McCarty said.
The local agricultural industry has shifted toward cattle ranches. Those who do still raise crops grow alfalfa grass and hay.
“There would be a pretty steep learning curve,” McCarty said. “Obviously, at one point it was a major crop, but it hasn’t been for decades. I don’t know if there’s anyone alive in Garfield County who ever raised it.”
Is there a market?
Filippone has helped to build hemp industries in countries around the world, such as India, Romania, Poland, China, Thailand and South Korea. She said there is a market for hemp in the U.S. and Colorado is ideally situated to take advantage of it. But the market isn’t what people expect.
“I’ve had farmers asking me what they need to do to make T-shirts,” she said.
That’s not the market for U.S. hemp, Filippone noted. The country already imports all the textile fiber it needs and there’s no way to compete with nations that already have mature hemp industries, she said. The secret to success will be food-grade hemp seeds and oil, plus ground stalks for use in concrete and other building materials, Filippone said.
She estimated it will take a $29 million investment to build up the local infrastructure needed to support a new hemp industry on the Western Slope, but feels local farmers will be able to start the industry from the ground up.
Filippone said seeds and oil could be processed locally with a small investment in equipment for a central processing station. The stalks could sell to concrete and gypsum board manufacturers on the Western Slope.
Carleton noted the state permit is only good for one year and farmers need to have a contract to sell their product to receive one.
“We’ll have a better idea of the interest level after March 1,” he said.
Where do hemp farmers get legal hempseed?
CBS Channel 5 visited with EnviroTextiles to get some updates on hemp farming in Colorado
To view the complete video featuring Barbara and Summer please visit For the complete video taken at our offices, please visit: http://www.krextv.com/story/colo-farmers-prepare-to-register-for-hemp-licenses-20140117
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. - The end of hemp prohibition in America has commenced. Some farmers in Colorado have already begun planting hemp, and all Colorado farmers can officially register to grow the crop come March 1.
Glenwood Springs based company EnviroTextiles, LLC is the manufacturer and importer of more than 100 hemp fabrics world wide. Farmers from across the country have been contacting them daily, asking about machinery, harvesting and processing. They also have many other questions about the budding industry.
Summer Star Haeske, COO and International Sales and Marketing Director of EnviroTextiles, said, “Colorado is leading the nation in being the first state to go forward with allowing our farmers to grow industrial hemp and start to build a viable industry.”
The Colorado Department of Agriculture and the Industrial Hemp Advisory Committee have worked to draft rules and establish registration and inspection protocols. Among them, all registrants are subject to sampling of their industrial hemp crop to verify the THC concentration does not exceed three-tenths of one percent.
President and Lead Product-Developer for EnviroTextiles, Barbara Filippone, said, “The number of inquiries from farmers is unprecedented.” She says she receives a minimum of five calls per day.
Filippone is a main player in the hemp industry.
When asked if she could see this being a multi-million dollar industry in Colorado, Filippone replied, “Billion.”
However, one factor of the industrial hemp business remains unclear.
“Where do we get our seed? Which is not really being publicly clarified,” said Filippone.
Importing hemp seed is illegal.
Ron Carleton, Deputy Commissioner for the Colorado Department of Agriculture, tells NewsChannel 5, “Because of federal law, importing seed into Colorado is not a viable, legal option. So growers will have to obtain their seed from within the state. We will not require that registrants identify the source of their seed as part of the registration process.”
Filippone recommends farmers register in order to grandfather the cost of the license, however, she cautions farmers to wait before growing. From her professional standpoint and observations, Filippone believes crops should not be planted until it’s federally secured and endorsed. Without that security, too much risk lies on the farmer.
“I will not allow the farmers ‘don’t ask don’t tell’. They have too much risk,” she said.
While inconsistencies remain, leaders are staying positive.
“It’s finally now coming to fruition,” said Haeske.
”The United States is going to utilize world trade agreements, NAFTA and start playing with the rest of the world, by supplying the rest of the world, rather than lose our jobs to other countries. Amen.”
Two types of registration will be allowed: Research and Development (R & D) and Commercial. R & D is limited to 10 acres or less and will be charged a registration fee of $100 plus $5/acre. Commercial registrants are not limited in size of acreage and will be charged a registration fee of $200 plus $1.00/acre.
Glenwood Woman Solidifies Plans for New West Slope Hemp Industry
An expanded mill to make socks from hemp and other natural fibers. A factory to process thousands of acres worth of locally grown hemp plants into seed oil. And a manufacturing facility to break the hearty plants down into sustainable building materials.
These are just a few of the plans that Glenwood Springs entrepreneur Barbara Filippone, 56, has for the hemp industry on the Western Slope. With the adoption last week of formal hemp cultivation rules by the Colorado Department of Agriculture, her economic development dreams are inching closer to reality.
Since Colorado voters passed Amendment 64 in 2012 legalizing industrial hemp along with its botanical relative, marijuana, Filippone said people have been “coming out of the woodwork” to talk with her about growing hemp or investing in hemp related businesses.
Filippone is uniquely suited to pounce on the burgeoning hemp industry: Along with her daughter, Summer Star Haeske, she currently runs the natural fiber business EnviroTextiles out of a former church in Glenwood Springs. The business imports and distributes all manner of textiles and yarns made from natural fibers, including hemp, and Filippone has more than three decades of experience helping countries like Canada and China develop their domestic hemp sectors.
Like marijuana, hemp is a variety of cannabis sativa, but it contains almost none of pot’s intoxicating THC. With its close resemblance to marijuana, hemp remains federally illegal to grow, but the U.S. Justice Department indicated last summer that it doesn’t intend to interfere with the implementation of Amendment 64.
At present, all the hemp that EnviroTextiles handles is imported, but Filippone hopes that won’t be the case for long. In recent months, she’s begun gathering private investment for a western Colorado agriculture and manufacturing plan that she claims could create more than 170 local jobs in its first phase alone. Although the plan remains confidential, it involves making textiles, building materials, hemp seed oil and other products from factories based between Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction.
Filippone said she’s fielded calls from hundreds of farmers interested in growing hemp in Colorado, and recently had a visit from a woman representing the owner of 50,000 agricultural acres on the Front Range.
Ken Sack, the owner of the Silt-based farm Eagle Springs Organic, is also in early-stage talks with Filippone about converting some of his acreage into hemp production next year.
“It sounds interesting, and we definitely have the room,” said Sack, a former Florida pharmacist who now supplies Whole Foods grocery stores and farmers markets across the state with produce from his 1,600-acre farm. “I hear that hemp takes a lot less water than other crops, and hopefully it’s less problematic than marijuana.”
Filippone said she’s excited about a potential collaboration with Eagle Springs, and about the possibility of selling hemp grown in Silt to manufacturers of building materials on the Western Slope.
“Because of our locations, it seems like a natural fit,” she said.
Compared to the thousands of pot farmers who are racing to set up shop before Colorado’s recreational marijuana market debuts next year, hemp farmers in Colorado will have a fairly straightforward set of rules to follow.
Regulations approved last week by the Colorado Department of Agriculture require hemp growers in the state to pay a $200 annual fee, plus $1 for every acre of hemp they grow. They’ll also have to cover the cost of random state inspections intended to make sure that their hemp plants contain less than 0.3 percent THC, and thus can’t be used to get people high.
Despite the relatively light regulatory burden, some farmers remain nervous about the fact that hemp remains illegal under federal law. There are questions about whether shipments of hemp seed from countries like Canada could be intercepted by U.S. customs agents, and the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, which represents large growers of commodity crops across Colorado, has warned its members to abstain from planting hemp for now, out of fear that it could jeopardize their federal crop insurance.
So far, the lone known planting of the crop in Colorado took place last spring on about 60 acres of land in Springfield, in southeast Colorado, and the farmer responsible had to smuggle his seeds into the U.S., according to media reports.
“Right now, there’s definitely an interest, and some farmers are willing to take the risk and jump in and go while others are waiting until the issues get ironed out,” said Mike McDermott, a Palisade-based farmer who runs a peach orchard, an alpaca farm and a small mill that blends alpaca yarn and Filippone’s fibers into socks.
For Sack, the assurance that the federal government won’t intervene if his hemp plants are approved by the Colorado Department of Agriculture would go a long way toward putting him at ease about hemp.
McDermott suspects that many other farmers feel the same way.
“I think once the farmers get through the whole legal aspect, it will catch on fairly quickly,” he said, adding that hemp is hardier that wheat, corn or other commodity crops and thus ideally suited for the dry and sometimes turbulent conditions of western Colorado.
“We can grow it in pretty much any soil condition we want, and we can utilize 100 percent of the plant,” he said. “If a farmer sees an opportunity to make money without the maintenance of other crops, they’re going to be interested in that.”
By Ben Henderson
Glenwood Springs, CO
November 1st, 2013
Harvesting Hemp in Colorado – The Birth of a New Industry?
Industrial hemp has great potential, but will require new processing and manufacturing facilities
The first hemp harvest is underway in Colorado. At only 55 acres, this harvest is more symbolic than a true reflection of the supply required for a potential new industry. The big question is now that hemp is being grown in the state, what can our farmers expect to do with their crops? Who will purchase them? Who will process them? What applications will hemp be readily available for?
If industrial hemp is going to be successful in the US, we should first pause and look towards the mistakes the Canadians have made the 17 years since they introduced hemp. While Canada is successfully growing hemp, the only viable Canadian product is seed oil, which wastes 80% of hemp’s raw materials.
After nearly two decades of hemp farming and tens of millions invested in the industry, why aren’t we seeing more products from Canada’s hemp harvests? When will we see this plant to produce its 25,000 known uses? What exactly is holding us back? Put simply, we lack the manufacturing infrastructure and the knowledge to transfer industrial hemp into suitable interim materials for product developers at industrial scale.
After nearly a century-long ban, even our ability to produce rough hemp for rope and cordage is essentially lost. However, advances in modern day farming and processing can now be applied to hemp production for the first time, providing an even greater natural resource than was previously available in the early 20th century. New machinery, harvesting processes, grading requirements, and other systems will need to be advised and uniformly followed so that hemp can be introduced into the modern marketplace.
While limited hemp production is seen as the single factor holding back the industry, a grading system for hemp-based materials for commercial applications has never been developed but will be available soon. Without a verifiable grading system that includes stringent testing comparable to existing building materials testing, hemp will have a very limited adoption rate within industries where it should thrive. For example, sustainable building materials provide a broad and encompassing use for industrial hemp, but are very much a niche industry at the moment.
EnviroTextiles, a pioneering hemp company in Colorado, is completing a system for grading hemp for industrial applications. Properly grading and testing hemp products is essential for commercial adoption to meet existing building codes requirements.
In addition to grading, the exact machinery to produce these new materials does not yet exist for large scale commercial applications. Modifications will need to be made to existing machinery to alter the raw hurd to manufacturer’s specifications. EnviroTextile’s technicians are finalizing a suite of custom machinery suited to process hemp materials accordingly to the newly designed grading specifications.
A primary base material for building applications is hemp hurd. The hurd is the inner core of the stalk, a woody material that should be free of the outer skin (bast fiber) before it is ready for processing. The hurd is typically broken down into small chunks for animal bedding as this process is cheap and requires no special equipment. This process is very rough, similar to a pulse blast with a food processor, producing odd sizes and shapes of hurd that often still contains some or all of the fiber from the skin in the final product.
Hurd can potentially be used for thousands of products once it is available to manufacturers as a standardized material for their applications. Manufacturers will then be able to purchase the grade required for their product development, from larger hurd for items such as pressed wall board, to extremely fine grains for plastic composites.
Barbara Filippone, founder of EnviroTextiles, is currently working with Canada to develop a grading system consisting of several grades grades of value added raw materials suited for multiple applications.
If hemp is to gain status as a commodity level base material, the hemp industry must overcome the processing and manufacturing requirements immediately. Processing machinery, grading systems, and infrastrucutre must all be put into place in order to provide proof of concept that hemp can be a profitable crop which serves stable, significant markets. Only then will farmers recognize the incentive to plant industrial hemp so that it can be properly introduced into the marketplace and compete with existing products and base materials.
A note about hemp textiles and fabrics – Utilizing hemp fiber for fabrics has been done for thousands of years, and many hemp enthusiasts are excited to start production in the US. Unfortunately, depending on the species of hemp planted, only 15% (maximum) of the plant is usable fiber. After processing, only 5-7% of the fiber remaining will result in finished fabric. The process from field to fabric includes harvesting, retting, inspection, degumming, spinning into yarn, the entire process of weaving, dye and finishing, and then final inspection. The viability of hemp for fabric and textile production in the US is not going to be an option for the foreseeable future. China and Eastern Europe will remain the two sources for hemp textiles.
EnviroTextiles featured in the Aspen Times
Our local journalist John Colson visited with our office to discuss the state’s plan for industrial hemp. (Click on the image or link for full article)
Our 100% agave scrubbies are the perfect replacement for all of your sponges. They (unlike your typical filthy kithen sponge) are so sturdy that they will easily outlast a 10 pack of kitchen sponges. At our office, we hand wash our dishes daily and we have been using the same agave scrubbie for two years and counting and it hasn’t started to break down yet!
Please call us today and order at least one scrubbie!
Barbara Filippone and Dan Enright at AREDAY in Aspen
Barbara spent 4 days at the Aspen Renewable Energy Days 10th anniversary summit, accompanied by Dan Enright. During the conference they were able to meet with several of the speakers including Ted Turner, General Wesley Clark, and T. Boone Pickens,
Aspen Renewable Energy Day’s (AREDAY) 10th anniversary culminated with an inspiring gala held at the Doerr-Hosier Center at the Aspen Meadows on August 17, 2013. Dr. Sylvia Earle presented a moving keynote address, followed by headliners Ted Turner and Reverend Jesse Jackson in conversation with AREDAY co-founder Sally Ranney. This serious summit, titled “Advancing Clean Energy: Transition to a Stable Global Economy,” covered renewable energy in areas of science, finance, government, and technology development, among others. Founded by Chip Comins and Ranney, the globally recognized event featured the AREDAY summit, expo, film festival, and a special tribute concert by Taj Mahal.
Fabric Test Burn
EnviroTextiles warns of EXTREMELY flammable fabric currently imported into the US. The natural colored sample is a 100% natural fiber blended fabric with no fire retardant or chemical processing. The dark colored fabric is labeled as 100% polyester and apparently passed stringent fire tests.
Following up on EnviroTextiles August 14th Press Release – This fabric could be in your home or your closet. A simple burn test comparing two fabrics, the dark colored sample is a falsely labeled synthetic that is labeled as passing the most stringent commercial fire standards, labeled as 100% Polyester passing the following standards:
1. NFPA 701 Small Scale 2004
2. UFAC Class 1
3. NFPA 260
4. Cal Tech Bulleting 117 SEC.E
Flammable fabrics imported into the US due to false labeling could be in your closet or home
The textile industry must embrace natural fibers to eliminate toxic products
A dangerous flammable fabric is being imported into the US that fails to meet basic fire standards. Testing a fabric sample with the “disposable lighter test,” a very simple test where you put a lighter’s flame to the fabric shows that this fabric fails miserably. The mystery fabric ignites like a sparkler, dripping molten chemicals that burn into the surface of anything that they drip on.
The fabric is labeled as 100% polyester, although silver-nano particles can be seen with the naked eye. Silver particles generally provide anti-microbial properties. Oddly, our test fabric was marketed as “stain resistant” instead of “anti-microbial.”
Relating to the fire testing on the label, Barbara Filippone of EnviroTextiles stated, “These are some of the strictest fire rating tests in the hospitality and commercial application industries. They provide the customer assurance that this fabric is not flammable. I have 40 years of experience in textiles, and this is a completely false label as shown. When I held a lighter to the sample it ignited like a 4th of July sparkler, dripping molten chemical substance. Normal polyester when held to a lighter will roll back on itself and when cooled the polyester becomes quite hard like a plastic.”
The fabric’s label indicates that the following tests were performed, with commentary by Barbara Filippone:
Finish – Nanotex Stain Moisture Resistant Finish: “Based on the fact that nano is smaller than a molecule and that silver was intended for anti-microbial properties, the flame tests are not accurate. The silver particles can be seen with the naked eye and are not embedded. When ignited, the silver becomes airborne. The nano terminology that was used on the labeling to describe the finishing is totally misleading.”
Content – 100% Polyester: “The burn characteristics do not appear to be polyester. In my professional opinion this may not be polyester.”
Abrasion – Exceeds 102,000 Double Rubs: For abrasion testing, there are two standard tests, the Martinson and the Wyzenbeek. The numbers of rub cycles for general contract upholstery are only 20,000 cycles for the Martindale and 15,000 for the Wyzenbeek, nowhere near the 100,000 mark. “If labeled correctly, the abrasion tests would indicate which test standards were used. For example, what abrasion material was used, cotton or wire? How many pounds of pressure were used?”
Cleaning Code – Washable: “Will the silver particles make it through a commercial washing? When I hand washed the sample in warm water silver particles were clearly visible in the bottom of the sink.”
In the early nineties a synthetic georgette fabric was banned from import due to its high flammability. Ms. Filippone was featured on Denver 9 News burning a skirt made from the flammable fabric. That fabric was banned from the US following the flame demonstration. This footage can be found in the 1994 NBC affiliates’ archives on Channel 9 Denver News. EnviroTextiles has a copy for reference if needed.
Another case for false labeling that can be spotted in retail outlets are outdoor performance products contain CoolMax™, a moisture wicking fabric developed by DuPont in 1986. Products containing Coolmax clearly list organic cotton, spandex, and CoolMax™; however what CoolMax™ actually contains is anyone’s best guess.
Drought conditions have created a shortage of organic and traditional cotton, and the countries which produce cotton are under social conflict making it difficult for foreign buyers to trust supply. India is currently one of few stable suppliers although the price of cotton is at all time highs. Without a stable cotton supply, the textile industry will likely continue its shift to more synthetics. We must become more conscious as consumers or we all may be wearing plastic clothing made from GMO corn in the future. Consumers should aggressively support programs for transparent labeling on all products, not just food items. The USDA’s BioPreferred program was recently created to provide consumers with product transparency for products marketed as green and sustainable. Programs like the USDA Bio Preferred program are essential to insure that our “green” products are actually what they say they are.
EnviroTextiles produced the first example of transparency labeling in 2004 when Filippone decided that since our food products show content, it makes sense to provide the same transparency for all products.