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May Newsletter: Challenges
Thoughts from the Farm – May 2022
Farming here in Oregon has had many challenges. We are used to challenges because of our faming in California for 19 years caused us to deal with drought, heat, dust and lots of sunshine. We embraced the sunshine, especially when we could enjoy our sweet, fragrant oranges off the tree. However, the drought left us with so many sleepless nights. That is one of the main reasons we moved north to Whole Circle Farms in Silverton, OR. When we hear that Silverton and Oregon is also facing a drought, we were concerned, but knowing how the Central Valley in California keeps trudging along as if there is no drought. Pumping water for green grass and bringing in more development, we tend to not give Oregon’s drought much thought. Our biggest challenges for Whole Circle Farms is in the Hemp Industry. I would love to share some of the hurdles we have had to face bringing Hemp and CBD to Oregon and the United States.
When we moved to Silverton in 2016, we purchased 89 acres with irrigation rights. We knew we wanted to farm, but we wanted to farm a crop that was sustainable and organic. We had heard that it was the first year that hemp was legalized and how fun it would be to grow a plant that looked and smelled like marijuana? Also, a plant that had so many medicinal benefits without the psychedelic high. What a world we landed in! Oregon had legalized Hemp, but we could not buy seeds or plants legally in the United States. We sourced our first seeds from Slovakia and England and we started a journey of finding a industry that was really thought of as illegal.
The banking world would not touch hemp. Credit Cards would not touch hemp, stores, websites, insurance, farmers markets and Dr’s offices would not touch hemp or CBD. The nation wanted hemp and we could not ship it legally. We had so many phone calls to purchase our crop but we could not recieve the money from potential buyers. I guess you would call what we did; creative accounting. We wanted to become certified organic and the certifiers would not touch hemp. As time moved on, we found a certifier called Certified Kind. We were kicked out of several banks until we landed one that “took a chance on us” The insurance company made bank because as soon as the word hemp was used the companies could charge a premium. Companies like Amazon, REI, Dicks Sporting Goods and so many others won’t touch hemp and still today they won’t.
As I am writing this May newsletter, I am feeling the 7 years of stress we have endured rekindling. Today, as I look back, I see now that we have come a long way. But… of course there is a “but”, our great state of Oregon who led the way for hemp to become legal and had the foresight to embrace this industry seems to be now imposing so many regulations to become another stumbling block. 7 years and we can now get seeds, sell at the markets, bank, acquire insurance and have a website but it is now May and we still do not have our growers permit that we purchased in December 2021. We will plant our hemp in the next few weeks and we shake our heads as we try to follow all the new regulations, planting without a license.
The Hemp and CBD market took a hit in 2019 when Oregon planted a whooping 65,000 acres of hemp. Today in 2022 we still see hemp from 2019. Everyone wanted to jump on the hemp train and flooded the market so severely that we know several farmers who literally lost their farm. The gold rush has been reincarnated. We are committed to continue growing hemp and providing organic high-quality products, both the flower and CBD medicinal products. We are constantly reminded by our customers and friends how CBD has changed their life. One of our best selling products the CBD Essential Gel. It’s great for Arthritis pain that we have many who nearly bathe in the product. So many uses, from stress relief, anxiety and just pain. So, when we have some of our very stressful days, we do remember how we are providing a natural organic product and how we are helping so many.