LISTEN: Historic Black resort getting new life as Black-owned hemp farm

It was a piece of Missouri history "not taught in any of my educational path here," says Brendalyn King. King and partner Osei Doyle are the Salem Hemp Kings.

They purchased Lake Placid Resort in Missouri last year for hemp production. The pair discovered, the location was once home to a resort for Black families, who weren't allowed at the Lake of the Ozarks.

"A Kansas City doctor wanted a place for his nurses to go and relax after they finished school. He knew that black people wouldn't be allowed at the 'big lake'," explains Brendalyn, "so he started looking for property where he could create an oasis for people of color."

King is a St. Louis native who moved to New York City to attend college and eventually opening Leadership Prep Ocean Hill - a Blue-Ribbon award winning charter school in Brownsville Brooklyn.

She met Osei there.   He was born in Brooklyn and raised in Trinidad, Port of Spain.  He spent more than twenty years working for New York City in the Department of Parks & Recreation, devoting much of his energy to youth swim programs.

The pair moved to Salem, Illinois during the pandemic to grow industrial hemp. But now their move to land in Missouri, includes plans to continue the legacy of the resort. They will also be processing hemp and plan to use their own products to rebuild the cabins.

"When we think about industrial hemp, I want us to think back to World War II when we needed supply that could support our materials for war.  We needed tarps, rope, different materials that had strong production qualities."

They are also looking to create networks with other people of color who grow hemp. So far they haven't found any others who own land.

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