County seeking businesses to propagate hemp at the Domes

Mitchell Park Domes

Last updated on May 27th, 2021 at 01:27 pm

Milwaukee County is seeking businesses to cultivate hemp clones in one of the greenhouses at the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservancy.

The county has issued a request for proposal for a private entity to lease one of the Domes’ greenhouses to propagate hemp clones for market consumption. The RFP is live until June 7.

The growing operation is one of several ideas that has emerged in recent years to revitalize or repurpose the Domes.

County supervisor Sylvia Ortiz-Velez, who first presented the idea of growing hemp in the Domes’ greenhouses in 2018, has previously touted a report indicating the operation could bring in as much as $1.6 million annually for the county parks.

However, an earlier study determined that the greenhouses were too small to accommodate a successful industrial hemp growing operation. That report recommended the county hold off on pursuing the idea, given the evolving state legislation regarding hemp and marijuana, along with the greenhouse space limitations.

Since that study was commissioned, the 2018 federal Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp, with numerous restrictions.

Cloning involves taking a cut of a stem or taproot of a mother hemp plant to cultivate new plants.

Industrial hemp has a variety of applications. It comes from the same genus as the plants used for marijuana, but must contain no more than 0.3 percent THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The state has also allowed the use of cannabidiol, or CBD oil, which can have medical benefits without the effects of THC.

The RFP for the greenhouse growing operation was set to be released last year but was put on hold due to COVID-19.

“Milwaukee County cannot wait any longer on this opportunity to garner much needed revenue for the Domes and Milwaukee County’s parks system,” Ortiz-Velez said in a press release Monday that noted “almost all the proceeds” from the growing operation would be directed to the county and no funding for the operation would come from county funds.

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Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits and education for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism. In her free time, Lauren enjoys hiking, kayaking, and seeing live music.

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