Skip to Main Content

Hemp Grower Spotlight: Jason and Rachel Kidwell

Jason and Rachel Kidwell operate Lewis Organics, a USDA-certified organic hemp farm. Lewis Organics, which is based in Indiana, focuses on breeding hemp to preserve some of its natural genetic variations.

Kidwell became interested in hemp production at a young age. “It was a family thing,” Kidwell explained. In 2014, some of his family members moved to Colorado to get involved in the hemp industry there. At the time, Kidwell was not ready to uproot his family and make the move, but when the opportunity came to Indiana, he jumped at the chance.

“We didn’t hesitate; we got right in,” Kidwell said. “I felt that the cannabis plant always had something to offer medically, and we wanted to be a part of that.”

Kidwell’s mission is to find varieties of hemp with a natural resistance to pests and disease. “My interest is taking apart what has been done in breeding to find the more natural way the plant should have looked,” Kidwell said. “In hemp’s non-hybridized state is where I’m seeing more powdery mildew resistance.”

Lewis Organics’ prime directive is to produce and preserve niche, genetically diverse varieties, especially varieties resistant to pests and disease. “The genetics we’re searching for nobody else has an interest in right now,” Kidwell said. “We’re hoping that the things we’re doing will prove later. We know that is what’s needed, even though it’s not marketable right now.”

With his time in the industry, Kidwell has learned a lot about what it takes to succeed in the hemp industry. First, Kidwell cautions that it can be a difficult industry to break into, so it is important to build a reputation as a grower. He also wants growers to understand that hemp may carry stigmas with it that can be overcome by educating others about the plant.

Featured Stories

almonds on a table with almond milk
Homemade nut-based dairy analogs raise questions about bacterial risks

Many consumers know the food safety risks of dairy products, eggs and raw meat. But they are less...

Read More
Students working in the Skidmore Lab inside Nelson Hall of Food Science.
CH4 Global partners with Food Entrepreneurship and Manufacturing Institute to combat methane emissions in the cattle industry

The Food Entrepreneurship and Manufacturing Institute (FEMI), housed within Purdue...

Read More
Purdue MANRRS pose with chapter of the year award at MANRRS38
Purdue MANRRS receives chapter of the year award at national conference, making history

For the first time since its founding in 1990, the Purdue University College of...

Read More
A bottle of Boiler Bee Honey sits on the edge of chrome table in Skidmore lab with two students cooking in labcoats and hairnets in the background.
The sweet (and spicy) taste of victory—National Honey Board funds a food science development competition at Purdue

In the past few years, specialty sauces like hot honey combined the classic warm, sweet feeling...

Read More
lab grown meat
Survey tallies consumer attitudes toward lab-grown meat alternatives

Many consumers view conventional meats as both tastier and healthier than laboratory-grown...

Read More
Against a black backdrop, three dozen egg carton are neatly arranged to surround many loose brown eggs
Butcher Block adds eggs from chickens fed orange corn

The Boilermaker Butcher Block’s selections will now include farm fresh eggs laid by Purdue...

Read More
To Top