Abandoned Port Edwards Paper Mill turned into hemp drying center

PORT EDWARDS, Wis (wsaw) -- One local farmer is hoping to use the old Port Edwards Paper Mill to breathe new life into the Wisconsin agriculture industry. Since mid-October, the building has been used as a hemp drying center.

“I have a 60-acre farm just east of Westfield, Wisconsin,” said Tim Voigt who owns Sweet Trees Farm. “We grow the hemp, harvest it and then place the crop onto semis to have people haul them into the old Port Edwards Paper Mill. Once the plant is here, we hang them from the rafters so they can dry.”

The building has been vacant for 11 years. State Senator Patrick Testin says this is a prime opportunity for Wisconsin Farmers to lead the nation in hemp production.

“Wisconsin’s come back crop is hemp,” explained Sen. Testin, who represents the 24th Senate District. “The crop is now opening doors that have previously been closed just like this old paper mill. It is centrally located, and could act as a hemp hub for growers throughout the state.”

Right now there is roughly 30 acres of industrial hemp hanging from the ceilings. That is equivalent to roughly $2 million depending on how it's sold.

Businesses like Nutrativa Global have partnered with Sweet Trees Farm to ensure the space is available for use. Currently, the building is owned by DMI Acquisitions, LLC and is being leased out.

“Our objective is to help the farmers produce a crop that could be turned into healthy food, beverage, skin care cosmetics and even something for pet nutrition,” added Todd Heeg who is the Co-President of Nutrativa Global.

Farmers say the building could also be repurposed for hemp paper production in the future.