Central Kentucky pioneer in natural foods now making hemp chocolates

WINCHESTER, Ky. (WKYT)- If there is one place Laura Freeman feels most at home, it’s the farm.

“Hello guys,” said Laura Freeman.

Freeman grew a small, family cattle operation at Mt. Folly Farm in Clark County into a multimillion-dollar beef company. She started it when she was just 22-years-old.

“After I graduated from college I was a little bit of a hippy and organic farmer,” said Freeman.

Freeman became a pioneer with her company in 1985, choosing to raise antibiotic and hormone free cattle, which was unheard of at the time.

“And I thought, you know if people really knew about this they would change. So we started Laura’s Natural Beef, but it didn’t sell, and that was back in the time everyone was trying to reduce their fat content, and we changed the name to Laura’s Lean Beef,” Freeman explained.

She manned the business for 23 years until selling Laura’s Lean Beef in 2008 and retiring to Martha’s Vineyard. She realized though she still had more ideas to harvest and made the decision to come home to Kentucky. Her daughter, who she says is much like her, had already planted the seed of what might be next.

“She is a hippy like you wouldn’t believe, and so she had gotten the whole farm certified organic, and she had gotten us in the hemp program,” said Freeman.

The first crop, Freeman says was a gamble and the harvest wasn’t much, but it was enough to get her thinking. She went back to what she knew, food.

“So I took a look at the hemp seeds, their nutritional profile and realized that maybe I could make healthy chocolate and healthy candy like healthy beef,” said Freeman.

After some trial and error, a little experimenting and a lot of taste testing she found herself at Ruth Hunt in Mt. Sterling making Laura’s Hemp Chocolates.

“People are a little suspicious about the hemp, is it going to make me high and am I going to fail a drug test? I say no, it’s hemp grain. It is omega 3’s, omega 6’s, antioxidants, but it’s not marijuana,” said Freeman.

Her first batch of candy made of hemp seed, chocolate, cranberries, and raspberries hit store shelves in 2016.

“It’s a big stretch from beef to chocolate, or is it a stretch,” questions Amber Philpott.

“It’s not because you know in both situations I took something that people like, but is not particularly healthy and in our chocolate, I’m using no milk chocolate, no high sugar,” said Freeman.

Healthy sweet treats are just the start for Freeman.

She has renovated a 1785 cabin on the farm and turned it into a B & B, powered by new age solar panels. She has opened Laura’s Mercantile to sell her goods both on the farm and online, and she has one more plan coming for Clark County.

“Then I bought some property in downtown Winchester which we are making into a distillery,” said Freeman.

Next up growing heritage grains that will be used to make the moonshine for the distillery. And eventually, she says she will offer tours to promote agri-tourism.

Laura Freeman paved the way for organic farmers long before it was hip, decades later this self-proclaimed hippy turned successful businesswoman is still putting the environment first.

“I like a good fight, and it’s a fight you need to be in right now, we’ve got to fight for the Earth,” said Freeman.

Laura Freeman says she has another idea up her sleeve for another edible, maybe a candy bar she says. Her candy can be found at Kroger, online and at Ruth Hunt. As for that moonshine distillery, she hopes to have it up and running this coming spring, and she has created the moonshine trail that she hopes will be an economic engine in our area.

CONTINUE READING AND TO VIDEO!

Advertisements

RJ Corman Railroad Group in Nicholasville Creates New Apprenticeship Program

Kentucky United We Stand, Divided We Fall

Commonwealth of Kentucky
Labor Cabinet

Matthew G. Bevin, Governor

Derrick K. Ramsey, Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Alex Englen
(502) 564-0582
Alexandria.englen@ky.gov

RJ Corman Railroad Group in Nicholasville Creates New Apprenticeship Program

Frankfort, Ky. (December 6, 2017) – Labor Secretary Derrick Ramsey joined officials from RJ Corman Railroad Group in Nicholasville today to announce the creation of a new apprenticeship program.

This four-year Registered Apprenticeship focuses on developing skills as an electrician. Apprentices will receive 2,000 on-the-job and 144 classroom training hours per year and will earn a nationally recognized journeyman certificate upon completion of the program.

“In Kentucky today, employers are facing a shortage of a skilled workforce,” said Labor Secretary Derrick Ramsey. “Registered Apprenticeships are the answer to this problem and businesses like RJ Corman are reinforcing their commitment to develop and retain more highly-skilled talent through these programs. I applaud RJ Corman for taking steps to bring more opportunity to their region and I look forward to the success this apprenticeship will bring to Nicholasville.”

Since 1973, RJ Corman Railroad Group has served all seven North American major railroads, many regional and shortline railroads and dozens of industries utilizing rail. Services include owning and operating eleven shortlines, providing emergency rail services associated with derailments and natural disasters, switching, track construction, track material distribution, signal design/construction, building switching locomotives and operating a dinner train. RJ Corman employs over 300 people at its headquarters in Nicholasville.

“As a family owned, Kentucky-based business, we are pleased to work with the Labor Cabinet to continue to create opportunities for the citizens of the Commonwealth,” said Ed Quinn, President and CEO, RJ Corman Railroad Group. “We believe that by investing in people, we can contribute to the workforce development of our state.”

The ‘Kentucky Trained. Kentucky Built.’ initiative signals Kentucky’s recommitment of new energy and resources toward strengthening apprenticeships across Kentucky. Since November of last year, 1,000 new apprentices statewide have been registered, bringing the total number of registered apprentices to 3,157 in 206 programs throughout Kentucky.

State Sen. Tom Buford (Nicholasville) also offered praise.

“I would like to thank RJ Corman Railroad Group for beginning this new, innovative apprenticeship program that will certainly benefit our community and the company alike,” said Sen. Buford. “I look forward to seeing this hands-on program and its participants in action, and I wish the company the best in this new endeavor.”

For more information on Registered Apprenticeships, visit www.KentuckyApprenticeship.com.

Follow the Kentucky Labor Cabinet on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest updates.

                                                           ##


The poverty rates in nine Eastern Kentucky counties were among the 30 highest in the nation in 2016, according to new U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

‘Not enough jobs.’ Nine of the 30 poorest counties in U.S. are in Eastern Kentucky.

By Bill Estep   December 03, 2017 11:45 AM

The poverty rates in nine Eastern Kentucky counties were among the 30 highest in the nation in 2016, according to new U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

The rate in Owsley County was third-highest in the country, at 45.2 percent, the agency estimated.

The highest rate in the U.S. was in Todd County, S.D., at 48.6 percent, and next was Crowley County, Col., at 48 percent, according to the report released Thursday.

The other Kentucky counties in the group with the highest estimated poverty rates were Clay, Martin, McCreary, Knox, Lee, Bell, Knott and Harlan.

Several have been hit hard by a sharp downturn in the coal industry, which has wiped out more than two-thirds of the coal jobs in Eastern Kentucky since 2011.

The estimates illustrate the challenge as officials, educators and business people work to diversify the economy and counteract the downturn.

There are some promising developments, such as growth in work-from-home jobs and projects to improve roads, but still not enough economic opportunity in the region, said Owsley County Judge-Executive Cale Turner.

“There’s not enough jobs, definitely not,” said Turner, a Democrat.

How America’s big and small counties differ

The 325 million people in the United States live in two very different areas: Big-county America and small-county America.

U.S. Census Bureau

The Census Bureau’s report, which it does annually, is the only source of single-year estimates on poverty and median household income at the county and school-district levels, according to the agency.

Other estimates consider multiple years.

The report, which covers 3,141 counties, is important because it is used in allocating federal aid to local governments and school districts.

The lowest estimated poverty rate in the country in 2016 was in Douglas County, Col., at 3.4 percent.

The report said that from 2015 to 2016, more U.S. counties saw a decrease in the poverty rate than an increase.

But taking a longer view, the poverty rate went up in more counties than it went down between 2007 and 2016.

Of all the people in the country considered poor, 41.5 percent live in the South; 23.3 percent in the West; 19.7 percent in the Midwest; and 15.4 percent in the Northeast.

Nearly 40 percent of the counties in the South had a poverty rate above 20 percent in 2016.

The report also estimated median household income — the point with half of households making more and half making less.

Again, several counties in Eastern Kentucky were in the group of 30 with the lowest figures.

The median household income in Owsley County was $23,115. The top number was in Loudoun County, Va., in the Washington, D.C metro area, at $134,609, according to the report.

Kentucky as a whole had the fifth-highest poverty rate at 18.2 percent, behind Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico and Washington, D.C.

The state’s median household income was sixth-lowest in the country, at $46,610, according to the Census report.

Turner said such estimates give only a partial picture of life in a county because they don’t take into account factors such as a lower cost of living.

And he said the county’s numbers would likely be better now than the period covered in the report.

He pointed to more than 100 residents who have gotten jobs since mid-2016 through a program called Teleworks USA, which trains people to work from home in customer-service jobs such as taking reservations for UHaul or orders for products.

That has been possible because Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative installed fiber-optic lines to make internet speeds up of up to one gigabit per second available to very home and business in Owsley and Jackson counties.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people that have these jobs and they’re thrilled,” Turner said.

The teleworks jobs will be one piece of diversifying the region’s economy, but it will take other approaches as well, Turner said, including training so people can qualify for higher-paying online jobs.

“There has to be more,” Turner said.

Bill Estep: 606-678-4655, @billestep1

CONTINUE READING…

(KY) Magistrates voice support for legalizing medical cannabis

cannabis-sativa-plant-1404978607akl

By Laura Harvey Lead Reporter lharvey@the-messenger.com

Nearly two weeks after Kentucky’s secretary of state announced convening a special task force to propose the legalization of medical cannabis, two Hopkins County magistrates have voiced their support for the action.

Currently, 29 U.S. states and the District of Columbia allow their citizens to use marijuana in some form — whether for recreation or medicinal purposes. The majority, including Illinois and Ohio, have legalized cannabis for medical purposes only.

On Nov. 15, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced that she had created a task force to focus on a similar legislative proposal. The group includes members of the state’s medical community, law enforcement, medical marijuana advocates and military veterans.

State Rep. John Sims, of Flemingsburg is currently drafting medical marijuana legislation for the 2018 session. On Tuesday, two members of the Hopkins County Fiscal Court voiced their support for the proposal during a regular meeting.

“I am not talking about the ‘average joe’ smoking pot,” said District One Magistrate Karol Welch. “I am talking about people, medical cannabis and the immediate need for laws in Kentucky to allow true, sick and disabled people to legally use cannabis as an option in treating their illness.”

Welch said 12,000 people in Kentucky, including a relative of hers, live with Parkinson’s disease. The incurable disorder, which affects the central nervous system and movement, progressively causes trembling and stiffening of the extremities while affecting balance and coordination.

Welch said some studies have suggested that medical cannabis can significantly improve Parkinson’s symptoms.

“It reduces muscle spasms and stiffness … and improves sleeping, anxiety and eating,” she said. “It also calms your mind without making you crazy. There are numerous studies that support the medical uses of cannabis.

“There needs to be compassionate, common-sense reform of the laws that will help the genuinely sick, diseased and disabled citizens of the Bluegrass State,” she added. “Those are the people who are going to be using it — the citizens. We need to realize that just because you don’t need it today, doesn’t mean you won’t later have an accident and be begging for it tomorrow.”

District Four Magistrate Jack Whitfield Jr. said he agreed with the proposal.

“Five years ago, I was completely against it,” he said. “But I have a twin sister with multiple sclerosis. Four years ago, we were just talking at Thanksgiving and she — my twin, my age — just fell. I mean, she hit the floor and I broke down crying.

“But now I have looked at the statistics,” he added. “(Marijuana) is here already, but I think it will be much better and safer if it were legal.”

While proposed legislation is already scheduled for discussion next year, Welch said she was confident a law governing cannabis use would be passed relatively soon.

“I think it is going to happen,” she said. “I don’t think it is going to take 20 years like some people think it will.”

CONTINUE READING…

KCFC supports Samuel Gaskins in the 1st congressional district

(Kentucky Cannabis Freedom Coalition)

KCFC supports Samuel Gaskins in the 1st congressional district. He is a cannabis supporter and a friend of our board. Here’s his opponent, James Comers, stance on cannabis In Kentucky.
VOTE SAMUEL GASKINS!

Comer on MJ

CONTINUE READING and to GROUP

Kentucky is getting back into the private prison business

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky is getting back into the private prison business.

State officials have signed a contract with CoreCivic to reopen the Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville. The prison will house about 800 inmates currently housed at the Kentucky State Reformatory in La Grange.

CoreCivic is based in Nashville, Tennessee, and was previously known as Corrections Corporation of America. It once operated three prisons in Kentucky. But state officials closed the last of its private prisons in 2013 following years of problems, including allegations of sexual abuse and a prison riot in 2004.

The contract will cost taxpayers about $16.8 million a year. Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley said that cost would be offset by the savings from closing much of the 80-year-old Kentucky State Reformatory.

CONTINUE READING…

Kentucky must legalize medical marijuana in 2018, secretary of state says

100-seeds-Semen-Fructus-font-b-Cannabis-b-font-font-b-Cannabis-b-font-sativa-font

Thomas Novelly, Louisville Courier Journal

Could legal medical marijuana be on the horizon in Kentucky?

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said Wednesday she wants to legalize medical marijuana in the Bluegrass State by 2018.

A task force, led by Grimes, will also study and propose potential implementation and regulation processes.

In a statement, Grimes said, “2018 is and must be the year when Kentucky finally steps up on medical marijuana. We have to get this done to help Kentuckians who are hurting.”

Judge to medical marijuana users: Talk to lawmakers about legalization, not me

State Rep. John Sims, D- Flemingsburg, will co-chair a task force alongside Grimes the statement said.

“Kentucky is getting left behind on this issue. Already 29 states and the District of Columbia have enacted medical marijuana legislation to help their people,” Sims said in the announcement. “The research is done. The studies have been conducted. It works, and it’s time we end our idling and start having conversations to bring medical marijuana to the Commonwealth.”

Sims said evidence exists showing marijuana combats a large number of side effects for cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, hepatitis C and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Marijuana expert: Matt Bevin exaggerates pot’s effects

Read this: Infamous marijuana grower is no angel, but he’s beloved in central Kentucky

Grimes announcement, however, breaks with Gov. Matt Bevin’s views on marijuana.

Recently, Bevin said he rejected any idea of legalizing marijuana in Kentucky to help the state raise money as it deals with billions of dollars’ in pension debt. He did say he could be open to legalizing medical marijuana if it was properly regulated.

“There is no way, when I am governor, that I will ever legalize recreational marijuana in Kentucky,” Bevin said. “It’s just not going to happen.”

A spokesman from Bevin’s office did not immediately return a request for comment regarding Grimes’ new task force.

Reach Reporter Thomas Novelly at 502-582-4465 or by email at tnovelly@courier-journal.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

Read this: In some states, pot farmers get a free pass. In Kentucky, Cornbread Mafia leader faces prison

Lawsuit: Trio of Kentuckians challenge the state’s medical marijuana ban in court

CONTINUE READING…