Rachel Berry is the founder and CEO of the Illinois Hemp Growers Association, a women-led benefit corporation and grassroots organization representing over 800 members. Her hemp industry experience includes:

Rachel Berry's Biography

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  • ​Secretary on the board of directors for the U.S. Hemp Building Association

  • Client relations / superintendent on a $1M startup grow in 2019

  • Frequent speaker/panelist at Illinois Extension, Farm Bureau, SBDC, and many other hemp industry and community events

Rachel is a first-generation regenerative farmer raising poultry, growing heirloom vegetables, native medicinal plants, and industrial hemp with her family on their 13 acre homestead. Her work is dedicated to building the resources and relationships necessary to grow a sustainable and equitable Illinois hemp industry.

 

Rachel represented the Illinois Hemp Growers Association in an interview with Phil Ponce, host of WTTW's Chicago Tonight. She has also been featured on the Lancaster Farming Industrial Hemp Podcast, WCBU Peoria, Grow Greater Englewood's Grow Your Own Series, the iHemp Hour, the Mike Nowak Show, on NPR's The 21st, and in many more media and guest appearances. She has partnered with IL Farm Bureau, McHenry County College's Center for Agrarian Learning, Chicago Cannabis Company, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, University of Illinois, Midwest Hemp Council, and many others to provide educational and hands on experience.

 

In addition to being the CEO of a grassroots hemp organization and regenerative farmer, Rachel is a community organizer, educator and dedicated volunteer. She serves on the board of directors for the Illinois Stewardship Alliance and believes local food matters and that hemp should be a part of local food systems in the future. She also serves as Director of Regional Leaders for the

U.S. Hemp Building Association where she is an advocate for hemp building professionals, projects, and materials in the United States. She provides education for children and students, including at National FFA Convention, Bureau County, Soil & Water Conservation District, Critter Barn, Illinois College, and more.

Rachel is a 2022 graduate of the Illinois Farm Bureau's Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow Program.

"Hemp is not just a commodity crop, it's a community crop."

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Chris Berry's Biography

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Chris Berry is the Chief Operating Officer of the Illinois Hemp Growers Association, a grassroots membership organization specializing in providing educational resources, research and consulting to its members. His hemp industry experience includes:

  • Lead strategic consultant / principal project manager on $1M startup grow in 2019

  • Frequent speaker / panelist at hemp industry and community events

  • Design / implementation of the Illinois Hemp Growers Association website 

Before starting his role as COO at the IHGA, Chris spent 12 years working accident-free as a Chicago Local 1693 Union Millwright for customers including Amazon, ArcelorMittal, BASF, Best Buy, Clorox, FCA Group, Ford, General Mills, Mars, Mondelez International, NRG Energy, Unilever, USPS, U.S. Steel and Wrigley Company.

 

He is currently employed as a Subject Matter Expert by Ocado USA where he has been responsible for training, reporting, root cause analysis, consultation, and continuous improvement on projects totaling over $50M of mechanical installation work in the field of automation, robotics, and fulfillment across the US and Canada.

 

Chris is a blog writer. He covers hemp-related news, events, politics, education, culture and volunteerism with a focus on local impact. He has also been featured on hemp and cannabis industry podcasts, and in interviews by PBS, Peoria Public Radio and The Center Square.

 

Chris lives on a 13 acre farm in Princeton, IL with his wife Rachel and their two children.

 

In addition to being an industrial hemp consultant and millwright, Chris has practiced regenerative farming and permaculture on his farm over the last 10 years. His style of agriculture is focused on minimizing labor and creating sustainable closed-loop systems of production on a market farm scale. Chris is also a hemp history buff. He has experience with hemp-lime construction and has built scale models demonstrating this style of construction.

 

"Regulations should be strictly for the purpose of promoting public safety. Anything else perpetuates illegal markets and will not put an end to the social problems caused by prohibition."

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