Amidst the evolving landscape of agriculture, the Sustainable Use of a Safe Hemp Ingredient (SUSHI) project emerges as a beacon of innovation and collaboration. As an advisory board member, we offer the following update on the project’s trajectory, and its potential impact on agricultural sustainability and public health.

Navigating Toward Sustainable Futures

The SUSHI project, steered by a consortium of academic institutions including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges, harbors ambitious goals:

  • Hemp in Aquaculture: Exploring hemp’s potential as a sustainable feedstuff for trout in aquaculture.
  • Expanding Market Horizons: Fostering growth in domestic markets for hemp and trout products.
  • Cultivating Diversity: Empowering underrepresented minorities in agriculture.
  • Enhancing Community Health: Promoting health and economic stability within the Menominee Nation.

A Holistic Approach to Sustainability

Aligned with the national goal of transforming food and agricultural systems, the SUSHI project targets the nexus of health, sustainability, and economic prosperity. As chronic diseases afflict a significant portion of the population, including low-income and underrepresented minority communities, the need for accessible, nutritious food sources becomes paramount.

The project responds to the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which underscores the prevalence of diet-related chronic conditions and the imperative to enhance seafood consumption. By advocating for safe and sustainable seafood options, the project aims to mitigate health risks while safeguarding environmental integrity.

Partnerships for Progress

The educational partnership between Central State University (CSU) and the College of Menominee Nation (CMN) serves as a cornerstone of the project. By fostering aquaculture certificate programs and providing training opportunities, the partnership nurtures a diverse workforce equipped to address the challenges of sustainable agriculture.

Partnering with underrepresented minority communities, particularly the Menominee Nation, the SUSHI project champions food sovereignty and local production of healthy foods. Through collaborative efforts, including financial support and educational programs, the project empowers communities to cultivate resilience and self-sufficiency.

The 2022-2023 reporting year for the SUSHI project witnessed both accomplishments and a few challenges

Accomplishments:

Advancements in Hemp Integration: One of the primary achievements of the reporting year was the substantial progress in integrating hemp as a safe additive to fish feed. Despite initial delays impacting the analysis of hemp grain ingredients, innovative solutions were devised to circumvent challenges. The construction of a mock chamber for the rosin press at Central State University (CSU) allowed researchers to produce oil closely resembling the intended outcome, facilitating progress in feed trials.

Educational Outreach and Partnership Development: The reporting year also marked strides in educational outreach and partnership development. Aquaponics workshops and hemp workshops provided valuable hands-on learning experiences, fostering knowledge dissemination and skill development among stakeholders. The partnership between CSU and the College of Menominee Nation (CMN) flourished, paving the way for increased Native American diversity in agriculture through certificate programs and scholarship initiatives.

Progress in Research Infrastructure: Efforts to bolster research infrastructure, particularly in aquaculture, yielded significant results. The design and construction of research aquaponics systems at CMN and the procurement of essential equipment underscored the commitment to scientific excellence. Additionally, progress was made in plumbing connections and system assembly, laying the groundwork for comprehensive research endeavors in the coming years.

Challenges:

Recruitment and Enrollment Hurdles: Despite notable achievements, challenges in recruitment and enrollment persisted, particularly regarding eligible students from CMN enrolling at CSU. The complexities of outreach and engagement underscored the need for sustained efforts to attract and retain diverse talent in agriculture-related programs. However, the recruitment of one student in the reporting year signifies progress toward fostering a more inclusive academic environment.

Logistical Delays and Equipment Acquisition: Logistical delays and equipment acquisition hurdles posed significant challenges throughout the reporting year. Delays in hydraulic press acquisition impacted the timeline for feed trials, necessitating agile problem-solving approaches to mitigate setbacks. While progress was made in acquiring essential equipment and components, ongoing efforts are essential to ensure timely project milestones and deliverables.

Community Engagement and Outreach: Community engagement and outreach efforts encountered logistical and operational challenges, requiring adaptive strategies to maximize impact. Despite concerted efforts, logistical constraints hindered the execution of outreach initiatives, emphasizing the importance of streamlined coordination and resource optimization in future endeavors.

Looking ahead, the project envisions a future where sustainable agriculture thrives, communities flourish, and health disparities diminish. By fostering partnerships, promoting education, and championing innovation, the SUSHI project paves the way toward a more resilient and equitable agricultural landscape.

As stewards of sustainability, we invite you to join us on this transformative journey, where the seeds of change blossom into a harvest of health and prosperity.

Read the Full Stakeholder Report

For further updates and insights into the SUSHI project’s trajectory, stay connected with the National Hemp Association as we navigate the currents of innovation and sustainability in agriculture.