In Moretown, Vt., Fancy Plants owner Jenna Rossbach awoke a month ago to find thieves had stolen her entire crop of 50 hemp plants.
Today, however, her entire crop has been replaced due to the kindness of a fellow farmer, Sam Markowski. Rossbach says she is buoyed by the support she has received and is “feeling like the world has my back.”
Rossbach says this feeling is due not only to Markowski’s generosity but also to the broader hemp growing community that offered its support after the theft. After Markowski came to her aid, six or seven other hemp farmers in Vermont and other states offered to replace her crops for free as well. “This speaks volumes to the culture of kindness that pervades the hemp industry,” she says, adding that “amongst farmers, there is a culture of cooperation, not competition.”
Markowski, the owner of VT Terps in Florence, Vt., says he first heard about Jenna’s situation on the evening news, was immediately angry at what had happened, and knew he needed to take action.
“My first impulse was anger but knew my upbringing would move me to not talk about it, but actually do something about it— replace her stolen plants,” he said. Markowski adds that while he knew 50 plants would not be much of a loss for him, as he has roughly 125,000 crops growing on 90 acres, it could be devastating for Rossbach.
Markowski agrees with Rossbach that hemp farmers make up a wonderful community. “Hemp growing has introduced me to some really genuine, hardworking, knowledgeable and creative characters,” he says.
Markowski adds that all hemp growers face the same challenges and need one another, given how new the hemp industry is. “We are in a new industry with many obstacles and hurdles to overcome. We need to make as many good relationships as we can-you can’t have too many friends,” Markowski says.
As a testament to this, when Markowski could not find Rossbach, his friend, Alyson Eastman, who is the state’s Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture, helped connect them.
For her part, Rossbach says she is not only grateful for Markowski’s “incredibly generous” offer, calling him “the salt of the earth,” but also comes away with lessons learned about the need for additional security measures.
For this next growing season, she plans to add additional fencing, which she says should not only help keep thieves out but also the groundhogs that eat her vegetables. Jenna will also improve her video surveillance, including cameras covering all her crops, while having clear signage that states any would-be thieves are being filmed and clarifies her crops are hemp, not marijuana.
As for the thieves who stole her plants in September, Jenna says there has, unfortunately, been no progress in finding them.