Hemp comes to downtown Jonesborough

Jessica Fuller • Jul 1, 2018 at 12:02 AM

In a town known for its rich history, David and Tara Cooper hope to make some history of their own.

The hemp farmers — and now business owners — opened their new shop, East Tennessee Hemp Company, across from the courthouse in downtown Jonesborough this week. The grand opening coincided with the 48th annual Jonesborough Days festival, and within the first few hours of business, the Coopers were showing customers the versatility of hemp, from making clothes to its medicinal properties.

Before sowing the seeds of a new business, the Coopers became hemp farmers, getting started in November. Their farm isn’t too far away from the front doors of their shop, but David Cooper said opening a shop in Jonesborough was a deliberate choice.

“We came to Jonesborough because it is the oldest town in Tennessee, and what we’re doing is very historic,” David said. “This plant has been around and has done a lot for this country. It’s a history thing — we’re able to teach history with history.”

The shop takes the place of the former JJ’s Eatery and Ice Cream — and ice cream is still on the menu, including a special hemp ice cream and vegan options added to the menu. The shop offers a wide variety of goods derived from hemp, like lotions, hand creams, hemp flowers, hot sauce and CBD oil for medical purposes.

In Tennessee, farmers can apply to grow hemp by submitting an aerial photograph of the planned growing area, and every variety of plant must be inspected before harvest to ensure it remains below the state’s 0.3 THC threshold. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main mind-altering chemical found in the cannabis plant.

In addition to providing a need for the community, Cooper said his goal is to educate the community on the uses of hemp while at the same time erasing stigma, a seed he planted earlier this month with a well-attended hemp history day class.

The classes will continue, Tara said, so people in the community know the versatility of hemp and how it can help them.

“We have a passion, it helps so many people,” Tara said. “We’ve been studying it for years and all the ways the plant and the oils can help people. Our big passion really is just helping people.”

Email Jessica Fuller at [email protected] Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.

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