January 23, 2020

Selinsgrove Area Rotary Club

Rotary Connects the World

Vol. 92, No. 26 – President – Carol Handlan – Editor – Dottie Anderson


Next Meeting Jan. 30, 2019 – Speaker is Lee Knepp, recently retired County Commisioner. Host s Hal Dunkelberger.  SVCC, 11:45 a.m.

Jan. 23, 2020 – 64 Rotarians and Young Farmers were in attendance as host Marty Blessing welcomed all to Rural/Urban Night Chicken and Waffles Dinner at the Christ Community Church

The speaker was Mark Dersham, a hemp farmer.  The event was sponsored by Northumberland National Bank.
Mr. Dersham introduced himself telling us that he first worked in the retail sporting goods business and then in the insurance business.  After experiencing double vision in 2002 he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  He went through traditional drug treatments, which eventually caused cirrhosis of his liver. He was encouraged to investigate marijuana as a treatment option but he became more interested in learning the benefits of THC from hemp. He said hemp is a “sister plant” to marijuana with lower levels of THC.  After discontinuing his M.S. drugs and beginning the use of hemp products he has no pain.  He was very clear that he’s not cured but his M.S. symptoms are alleviated.  He believes the FDA needs to stay involved for better consistency in the production of CBD products.

He explained his process of investigating and then beginning his hemp farm.  He traveled to California and Colorado to educate himself.  He and another gentleman eventually bought seeds in Denver and came back to PA where they planted and cloned up to 25,000 plants.  He prepared 2 acres and planted 8 different cloned varieties between July and August of his first year.  By September the plants were 6-7’ tall.  They experimented with harvesting and ended up using sawzalls to cut the 1,000s of plants.  They dried them and bucked them, which separated the leaves from the stems.  9 separate farms spent $6,500 to test the THC levels in their plants.  [This is where I got confused.] He explained that he ended up with significant amounts of biomass.  I Googled hemp biomass to better understand it.  Hemp creates two forms of biomass.  The first is created from the flowers and it is used for CBD production.  It’s sold by the pound to CBD extractors.  The second form is the fiber biomass and it’s the remainder of the plant and has the potential to be used for a variety of things.  Apparently it’s this second form that he’s struggling to find a market for.  There are a variety of possible products from hempcrete, which is a mold resistant, high insulating alternative to concrete and even hemp eggs.

He said PA has 5-6 year plan to have up to 100,000 acres of fiber hemp that grows 14-15’ tall.  It will require an investment in new tougher harvesting equipment and processing plants.

He answered many questions from both the farmers and non-farmers present.

Announcements:  Planning for the 5th annual Mallet Madness has started. Note that the date for the event is June 6 (not 13 as is shown in the year’s Rotary Calendar.  Let Donna know if you are interested in participating*Reminder of SNOW POLICY – we do not meet if the SASD has cancelled classes.

Future Programs:

Feb. 5 – TBA, Earl Ferster is the host. SVCC, 11:45 a.m.  Board Meeting precedes at 11.

Feb. 13 – Rick Davis, Accounting Professor at Susquehanna University, will speak about the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program, free assistance to those who meet income guidelines, and need to “advertise” and potentially become a volunteer with the program. SVCC, 11:45 a.m.

Feb. 20 – Club Assembly, Carol Handlan presiding. SVCC, 11:45 a.m.

Feb. 27 – TBA, Mary  Peterhaensel, host

Birthdays:  Feb. 3 – Toby Skinner, 5 – Carol Handlan, 22 – Raven Rudnitsky. Mar. 13- Kelly Feiler; 24 – Dave Lawer; 31 – Ken Miller.

Quotation: “To ignore evil is to become accomplice to it.”  Martin Luther King