We started our first CBD hemp seeds back in March—a variety called Lifter. They were also the first seedlings planted in May, and soon they will be the first harvested. Walking through the field, I marvel at how the plants stretch into the August sky. The branches are top-heavy now—thickly covered in resinous flowers, their slender pistols in various shades of translucent electric pink. But the stalks are strong, so they spread into space to form a lush green canopy. At soil level, light only trickles through. It must be 15 degrees cooler down there. Gently pull back a layer of composted alfalfa from the raised beds, and you find cool, moist soil teeming with life. The gardens flourish after 8 years of regenerative farming practices, but it hasn’t always been an easy task.
The long-term approach isn’t always the most glamorous. I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way, some where I literally ended up knee-deep in a pile of fresh manure. But sometimes the hardest parts are just holding onto your principles and trusting that it’s all going to pay-off in the end. Most gardeners know that nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium (N,P,K) make plants grow. But we focus more on improving the soil biology and structure, running laboratory tests multiple times over the season to replace micronutrients, too. We plant cover crops, like buckwheat and vetch, and companion plants, like dill, rosemary, and sunflower. In the face of an overwhelmingly near-sighted industry, we plant fewer acres of cash crop to favor regenerative legumes and cereal grains.
Most evenings I walk through the fields and watch the sun set behind Elk Mountain. The view has been especially nice this week, as dozens of sunflowers bloom amidst the glossy green hemp. If you’re patient enough on the right morning, you can watch the petals unfurl from dinner plates of jet-black disks. They’re a vibrant symbol of our commitment to pollinators. And they’re beautiful. So this week, it only takes a glance to see that yes, it’s worth it. The gardens have filled in better than I could have hoped. Below the sunflowers are trichomes and terpenes as far as the nose can smell.