Last year, the devastating effects of COVID-19 deprived many people of essentials, which include hand sanitizer.
So Kevin Summers, a Farmer Partner in South Carolina State University’s 1890 Research & Extension Industrial Hemp Program, started making hemp hand sanitizer and donated it to the Bulldog Pantry.
The Bulldog Pantry is a Student Government Association project that provides essential items to students in need. Summers’ inspiration for the hemp hand sanitizer donation came from his horrific experience of contracting COVID-19.
“When I caught COVID last year, it was as simple as – I went and had a meeting and I dropped my guards. I didn’t have hand sanitizer, I didn’t have a mask on at breakfast and I ended up with COVID. It’s such a nasty disease, “said Summers.
During this time it was difficult for Summers to get hand sanitizer because many stores were gone and those where it was too expensive. So he wanted to create an affordable hand sanitizer that he could share, that was FDA cleared and that met CDC guidelines.
“The CDC recommends that hand sanitizer be at least 80 percent, but because the demand was so great, many people started making hand sanitisers at 60 percent and then charging consumers a lot of money for it. I wanted to make a hand sanitizer that would help people and be affordable, but also have an 80 percent standard, ”said Summers.
The hemp hand sanitizer is enriched with CBD oil, which is extracted from hemp, which allows the disinfectant to moisturize your hands while killing germs. Not only is CBD good for the skin, it also has medicinal benefits. It has been found to relieve pain and calm the nerves of people with epilepsy by reducing the frequency and intensity of their seizures.
Summers is the CEO of Branchville-based bRISE. bRISE is a health and wellness based company that was founded by a family business in the 7th generation.
“We do everything from genetics to agriculture here in Branchville. We have developed 40 different products and have six different brands. The hemp hand sanitizer is one of them, ”he said.
BRISE products focus on relieving pain, anxiety, insomnia and muscle relaxation. The company’s purpose is to form partnerships and help people grow their business by offering innovative formulas and products made from hemp.
When Summers was working with SC State, he was excited because many of his family members were attending university.
“We are really excited about everything we do and the opportunities for students to support us on the technology side and help us with agricultural practices. We’re just glad we got to work with the university and in 1890, ”he said.
Summers began 2018 with Dr. Florence Anoruo, the director of the Hemp Research Initiative from 1890, when hemp was first legalized in the state. The industrial hemp program was founded in autumn 2020 and started with hemp research this year.
“Right now, our research initiative is on genetics and environmental conditions, because in hemp research, farmers are still struggling to determine which areas are best for which strains and whether those strains can thrive in different states,” Anoruo said. “We’re also looking into which varieties are best for CBD oil and which varieties are best for fiber.”
The research program also evaluates various growing conditions and new trends for hemp. This research is just the beginning of the initiative. Once they complete their research, the program plans to send this data to local farmers to determine which varieties are best suited for the state’s climate.
“Right now, our research is based solely on studying environmental conditions that allow for maximum CBD production, which is what many people are looking for,” said Anoruo.
Part of the initiative is investigating the fiber made from hemp. Anoruo gave various examples of how the fiber can be used in many different sectors, including the textile and automotive industries. As society leans towards a green economy, the 1890 industrial hemp research program seeks ways to replace certain building materials with hemp fiber.
“Hemp is not going anywhere. It is known that hemp has over 50,000 different uses. We are currently talking to some private companies about developing a house built with hemp products, ”said Dr. Louis Whitesides, vice president and executive director of the 1890 Research and Expansion Program. “It has so many uses that we had to be in this room not just for ourselves, but to advise our constituents. That only works if you get involved and do research. “
Whitesides said because the hemp crop is fairly new to the area and not legal in all states, farmers are more likely to run into roadblocks when trying to grow it. Hence, the 1890 program is working with more minority farmers to expand their knowledge and profits.
“Given the sheer volume and interest of the people, especially the minority farmers, we were dealing with, we knew we had to go to the front and make sure we could develop some standard practices and empower our farmers to advise the right way to grow it, harvest it and sell it to the processors, ”he said.
Whitesides said that while the program is still in the research phase, they have future goals of genetically producing their own cannabis seeds and clone that they can say is being developed by the SC State. You want to be able to cultivate these seeds in different soils to monitor and learn the different growth results so they know which soils are best for their plants.
“Hemp is an exciting crop. It’s likely the newest crop that has had a lot of potential in the last 50 to 100 years, so a lot of people are excited about it. As the company continues to grow and develop more products, the profitability will be higher, ”said Whitesides.