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Higher Profile: Doug Fine, Hemp Farmer and Goat Herder

Doug Fine wants the earth to be saved by teaching humanity about living a sustainable, regenerative lifestyle. Fine is a solar-powered goat farmer and hemp farmer, so this seems a lofty goal. But Fine continues to work towards it. That’s the thing about saving the planet, it takes tenacity. It is evangelizing biblically, starting from their lips to their ears. Although they may not be ready or able to live the gospel, they will listen.

Author of six books to date, Fine’s first effort, It’s not really an Alaskan mountain manHis introduction to nature, as a boy who grew in New York suburbs, is reflected in his 2004 publication of. Another one was published in 2008. Farewell Subaru, details his life living “green off the grid,” demonstrating how to drastically reduce the use of fossil fuel in order to live sustainably. The 2012 edition of this book was also published. Too high to fail, with a focus on the regenerative side of the emerging cannabis industry at the time, and the green economic revolution—that’s now in full swing ten years later.

2013 was his first appearance on TEDxTalks Albuquerque. His Funky Butte Ranch farm is situated in a rural area just hours from Albuquerque. The talk, tilted “Why we need goat herding in the digital age,” is a call to arms, with the intent of luring humans back to the garden to save their soul—and health.

Fine introduced himself: “I stand before you today, a neo-rugged individualist, solar-powered goat herder.” Thus begins his humorous-yet-informative talk on how and why he supports his family by tending goats off the grid.

He published his first book in 2014. Hemp Bound – Dispatches From the Front Lines Of The Next Agricultural Revolution, wherein he shares his life on his farm, expounding on the many uses of hemp—and how it can help save the planet.

The publication of his latest work was in 2020. American Hemp Farmer: Adventures and Misadventures in the Cannabis Trade wherein David Bronner, CEO of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, exuded, “A fantastic piece of Americana that shows the way to a sustainable future.”

American Hemp Farmer The pilot episode and other episodes have been completed and are available for distribution.

Fine advises on organic hemp cultivation and visits the Rosebud Sioux tribe lands. Other visits within the show include George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, with Fine manually harvesting, wearing a full outfit of Colonial-style clothes made of hemp, of course.

Doug Fine: Promoting a Sustainable Life

His TEDx Talk explains that his first encounter with nature came when he moved to Alaska in 2003. There he learned all about salmon fishing and sustenance fishing. 

The idea of getting food from your backyard was something he enjoyed. He said that this brought him into contact with the Indigenous Gene or I-gene. It calls humans back to their Paleolithic roots, which he says was when they used the land for hunting and gathering.

“Despite all our digital age accouterments, as humans, we are still the same hunter-gathers that we’ve been for tens of thousands of years,” he said. “I feel at my absolute best self and more relaxed when I’m out milking a goat at first light of day, with the local owls returning from date night. For me, it’s this feeling of living as one is intended to live.”

The experience in Alaska reawakened a vital part of himself that he’s been cultivating ever since, moving to New Mexico two years later, establishing his Funky Butte Ranch, to nourish his soul, with the end result of giving him a sense of contentment. The digital age is not the same as our primitive selves, but there’s balance, he explained.

And then there’s Climate Change, for those who understand the ramifications.

“We’re at the bottom of the ninth with two outs when it comes to tackling climate change, and we’ve got a game plan,” he advised. “Teaching that to everyone is my day job.”

He is a teacher, and he offers courses on his website as well as speaking engagements all over the globe.

To date, the most high profile talk given was a plea to the United Nations, in association with The European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD), an organization working for better drug policies, globally. This talk was almost five minutes long and urged the end to the failed War on Drugs.

On February 27, he’ll be the Keynote speaker at SXSW’s Eco-Ag Conference in Montana for its 50th Anniversary, with the event airing on C-SPAN.

His “Johnny Hempseed” journey teaching the citizens of Earth how to help heal the planet is seemingly endless, as he presents himself clad head to toe in hemp—including hemp boxers made by his longtime companion.

Doug Fine at his Funky Butte Ranch in New Mexico. Doug Fine.

Hemp is a great plant that can heal the planet

The stats on how sustainable industrial hemp is are remarkable, when one thinks of all the trees felled over the years—not to mention the amount of plastics now littering the earth that could have been made with hemp and other plants.

“The prohibition of cannabis, and subsequently industrial hemp, was a terrible mistake that a great country made,” he explained from the ranch. “In my talks, I bring with me a little plastic goat made of hemp, created using a 3-D printer. We don’t need to use petroleum byproducts—we never did.”

The benefits of industrial hemp are many, able to be used for everything from fuel to building materials, to pulling toxins from the ground after contamination—demonstrated at what is now Ukraine, at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear melt-down, where thousands of hemp plants have been planted.

Fine’s own hemp seeds from his farm are being used in an experiment to clean contaminated soil in a New Mexico University study, with initial reports of great success in pulling uranium.

“I can confidently write that hemp cleans up radioactive soil,” he wrote within a blog at Vote Hemp. “Not, I heard it does, or I wish it did, or even someone told me they used it at Chernobyl. It actually does, according to this study.”

As explained in an article published by the Global Hemp Associations, the process is called Phytotech, wherein plants can actually decontaminate soil by pulling toxins—with hemp being exceptionally good at the process, decontaminating at a very high rate, eating up chromium, lead, copper, nickel, and more.

While plants are not experts at cleaning soil or air quality, their understanding of the workings of these things is. 

“When you look at how many trees it takes to make anything, and how many years it took for those trees to grow big enough to use, it’s stunningly ignorant of us to ignore these facts,” he explained. “Before we began synthesizing petroleum byproducts, everything we made and used came from the earth—and it was all regenerative and sustainable. There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t turn this around.”

For example, the European Industrial Hemp Association has noted that hemp can contain up to 65-70 percent of cellulose while wood is only around 40 percent. According to the Ministry of Hemp, a single acre of hemp can yield as many paper products as up to four or 10 acres of trees in a twenty-year cycle. The growth of hemp stalks takes four months. Trees take between 20 and 80 years depending on their species.

One can see why the “Plant for the Planet” movement was founded, encouraging humans to plant as many trees as they can—with the goal of one trillion trees planted globally by 2030.

“It’s such a no-brainer,” Fine lamented. “Hemp paper is more durable than paper made from trees, because it doesn’t break down over time. Hemp-based building materials are resistant to fire and mold. Not to mention the devastating effect deforestation has on the climate and health of the planet.”

Climate Change at Your Door

A wildfire that engulfed 130,000 acres of Funky Butte Ranch destroyed years of farm work and was devastating several years back.

“This is not a dress rehearsal, it’s really happening now, and it’s at the door” Fine said of climate change and the forever fires, super storms, and flooding around the world, predicted years ago.

Fine claimed that he saw a bear escape the wildfire and then attack all his goats except one. Fine tells this story in order to illustrate the collateral damage caused by the destruction. 

“The destruction affects everything,” he continued. “Fires, floods, and water levels rising due to melting glaciers. This all compels me keep speaking, to continue teaching and to grow regenerative hemp. The good news is we have two new baby goats on the farm now, blessings abound!”

The ever-hopeful Fine explained that we don’t all have to become farmers, but we can begin to understand the process by growing a little patch of something—even if it’s a bunch of basil in a pot on a city balcony.

He believes that farmers are capable of leading the way and can be supported by large numbers by making small lifestyle changes to improve their lives every day.

“Supporting small, local farmers by buying locally-sourced products, getting produce from community-supported co-ops or farmer’s markets—or even working in community gardens, are all valuable contributions,” he surmised. “Who knows, you may find, like me, that farming or gardening and growing your own food is the most fun you’ll have outside the bedroom!”

Doug Fine is available at for more information.