Sowing seeds of a food revolution

Industrial hemp grower Andrew Kavasilas inspects a crop on one of his two hemp farms on the.
Industrial hemp grower Andrew Kavasilas inspects a crop on one of his two hemp farms on the. Jerad Williams

NIMBIN resident Andrew Kavasilas is growing hemp for food, legally.

Andrew Kavasilas has barely settled at our table in a Nimbin cafe when a hairy, wild-eyed young stranger rises from nearby and looms over us. Raising a closed hand above the table, the youth pauses theatrically before opening his fingers and spilling several marijuana buds among our coffee cups. Then, still without a word, he turns, adjusts his greatcoat and swishes off up the main street.

''Bloody idiot,'' grumbles Kavasilas. ''They're everywhere around here and you reach a point where you just lose patience …''

It's not that Kavasilas doesn't like pot. Quite the contrary: Until recently, he owned this cafe, the Oasis, and was a central figure in the ever-changing hippie culture that made Nimbin one of the world's best-known ''cannabis-friendly'' destinations. He took part in (legal) research into growing high-strength cannabis, wrote a book about its medical uses, ran a mail-order service providing the drug to medical users and was busted, in 2001, for possession when he and other Nimbin cafe owners conducted (illegal) ''trials'' for the regulated sale of cannabis.

But over time Sydney-born Kavasilas has grown weary of Nimbin's rag-tag army of blow-ins, often just out of prison, who take advantage of the tolerant mood to sell hard drugs such as heroin on the streets. ''There's been violence and real turf wars between some dealers,'' he says. ''And normal people, who come here just to get a bit of pot for their own use, were worried about getting embroiled in a violent incident, or being stood over.''


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