Choose your hemp field, and stay focused

Derek Cross, hemp educator and entrepreneurDerek Cross explaining about the uses of hemp in a Colorado hemp field.

Derek Cross is a Hemp advocate on all fronts: nutritional, industrial and medicinal. The owner of Formulations by Nature, and Director of Operations, The Hemp Farm USA, LLC, Derek is also a public speaker cookbook author, and educator about hemp.

HempToday: Where do you see the hemp industry in 5-10 years
Derek Cross: As I’ve seen tremendous movement across the nation and stronger, larger groups around the globe are advancing hemp at what seems like record speed. I believe agriculture will play a huge roll in the near future for our overall sustainability and health. With new and evolving technologies that cross over into different markets, it’s hard to really see what the future will hold.

We must look at hemp as a tool that can help big industries like timber, paper, cotton. Getting hemp raw materials to these markets will drive the hemp industry forward in the USA. When we start making these shifts, using blends of natural materials like hemp into the mix and reducing our use of trees, and eliminating toxic chemicals on crops like cotton – that’s when we’ll see real change. I feel that the crop itself is closer to large-scale production than we think. The need for large production will drive the need for large farming and large processing.

HT: What are you working on now?
DC: I’m working with some amazing engineers and chemists. They’ve spent years researching bio-based crops and providing data for products that are ready to come to market, including insulation, wall panel systems, water purification, air filtration, and fuel for super-capacitors. Some of these products are ready for commercialization, and with the right team, not far from getting funding to advance these technologies. We’re now looking for the right members to join the team. I’ve also been working with hemp farmers and processors in Colorado, selling American grown hulled hempseed, hempseed oil, and protein powders with a goal to raise funding for our own in-house processing systems.

HempToday: What inspires you about hemp?
Derek Cross: I am inspired by this plant that allows me the opportunity to be able to share my knowledge with others about the sustainability and health benefits that the hemp plant has to offer. I like to think of myself as the Lorax, “I speak for the trees and the bees,” to reach those who’ve not heard about hemp.

HT: Who has been important in your hemp career?
DC: Many. First, Coach Freddie Cecchini of iHemprevolution. He’s inspired me to keep focused and win my Olympics in this industry. He’s not only an inspirational coach but a valued friend.

Tony Budden at Hemporium in South Africa is a true ambassador of industrial hemp; it’s thanks to social media for bringing us together. Ben Dronkers of HempFlax in the Netherlands; Dave Jordan of The Hemp Farm in New Zealand; Ryan Loflin at Rocky Mountain Hemp in the USA; Shaun Crew of Hemp Oil Canada. They’ve all had a big influence on my career in hemp.

The industry may be relatively new to the USA, but it has been thriving around the globe for some time. And that’s due in great part to some really great women working tirelessly in the industry. There are so many female business owners and farmers in the USA alone. I wish I could name them all. But around the world, Monika Brummer from Cannabric in Spain is amazing. She’s been working in the bio-building space for years doing projects and educating about different materials that can be brought to market.

All these people have inspired me to innovate and collaborate to make the world a better place for our cultures to evolve.

HT: How did you get your start in hemp?
DC: It started with my skin, believe it or not. Nine years ago, I was looking on the internet for a non-pharmaceutical solution to get relief from my eczema. I found nine or 10 pages full of everyday creams and other over-the-counter stuff that didn’t work or made my skin more dry. Then I stumbled across hempseed oil for eczema from some webpage article out of Europe. I began to dig deeper and realized that Canada was growing hemp commercially, and that hemp products were being sold in some health stores. I went to purchase some, and started applying topically on my skin. I also tasted it and started to further research more about the hempseed and hempseed oils, I was blown away by the nutritional values and after a week or so, seeing my skin becoming more clear and even the hairs on my legs start to grow back, I was hooked. I’ve been myself, a “hemp-oholic” ever since. I’ve spent almost every day since then learning more and more about this wonderful plant.

Years into my career in hemp, eating hemp and meeting people in the industry I answered an ad on Facebook. That was four years ago when Ryan Loflin was looking for helpers to come harvest his 55-acre crop in Colorado. I answered the ad and made arrangements to make it to harvest. About 50 people from six states made it that day. My life has never been the same from that point. Ryan has been a true inspiration and a great friend!

Since that time I’ve been educating and innovating. I do a lot of public speaking, radio shows, conventions, private engagements, and have had the honor to speak in front of historians, folks from the criminal justice system, universities and legislators in many states.
I was one of the first to Bring industrial hemp into the Texas Capitol while lobbying and testifying for hemp farming in the state. There is new legislation now that has come out of committee in favor of Hemp in Texas. We will have to stay tuned.

HT: Tell us about the genesis of Formulations by Nature.
DC: After several years in the industry I realized it was time to get back to what got me inspired about industrial hemp in my early days. Our skin is the largest organ in the body and my own skin has been helped tremendously by hemp’s amazing power to heal dry skin and eczema. With more American products now available and easy to source, I decided that it was time to start.

HT: What advice would you give to young people in the hemp industry?
DC: The best advice I can give is make sure you are a good listener. Know what path you choose in the field of hemp and stay focused. Be sure not to get lost in the many opportunities that this plant has to offer. Find your passion and run with it, breathe along the way and keep the finish line in focus. Always be your best, stay humble, learn, teach, never stop inventing, be happy and smile!

HT: Give us the elevator sermon.
DC: Hemp will help clean up our soils, air and water, if we focus on that as our No. 1 priority. We will be able to repair the damage man has done to this planet! The people are speaking and realize that there is no planet B. “In Hemp We Trust!”

Interview by Cameron Patterson, HempToday West