Hillside Harnesses Hemp To Heal

Grant Taylor
Grant Taylor 19 Mar 2019

What do you get when an herbalist, a mechanical engineer and a biochemist, all with an interest in regenerative farming start a business together? Hillside Botanicals.

Husband and wife duo Sarah Shaw and Nathan Bacon, along with their friend Joe Young, are the trio that make up Hillside Botanicals in Randolph. Currently training as a clinical herbalist, Shaw graduated with degrees in Global Studies and Community Development from UVM.

Bacon and Young attended Norwich University together and hold degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Biochemistry respectively. Outside of university study Shaw holds two permaculture design certificates, while Bacon gained regenerative farming experience by apprenticing with a local permaculturist and they all have varying levels of experience working with cannabis.

While separately working in jobs ranging from Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign to carpentry, engineering design, and lab work, they each found themselves wanting to do something for the betterment of their community and the environment.

They collectively decided on a hemp business to meet their goals of positively affecting the environment and community at the same time. Their inspiration is drawn from addressing climate change, protecting our waterways, maintaining healthy soils, and creating more resilient communities. Specifically noting “a connection between human and environmental health,” they plan to maintain a purposeful business model grounded in natural systems and community.

In the spring of 2018 they built their first seed racks for an 800 plant start. They are currently working on infrastructure for up to 2700 plants on 5 acres. This includes intense cover cropping to promote soil health through no till practices, managing stormwater runoff, and increasing the amount of pollinator species visiting the property. Their focus on permaculture is in response to a need for resiliency in the face of increasingly adverse climate challenges.

“We’re living the reality of being young farmers and holding full time jobs outside of the farm,” says Shaw. “We work insane hours, with many early mornings and very late nights during the season, but we love the vision that we’re co-creating.”

Hillside Botanicals will be growing hemp, medicinal herbs, and harvesting wild crops for their products. Other than hemp, Hillside will grow calendula, yarrow, chamomile, and many other herbs to include in their creations. While they specialize in farming, they will be producing small batch herbals and topicals, with potential wholesale extracts. They will also be processing all their own products into tinctures, salves, balms, oils, and more.

They are currently designing a website, and marketing their products to some local stores, markets, and cultural hotspots. They will be incorporating a specific discount on their products for Heady Vermont members, but they really want to create equitable access to their healing products for all people. Beyond growing hemp and creating CBD products, Hillside will have a larger focus including equitable access to their products, and a net positive environmental impact.

They want to fight the climate crisis and help the earth, and they use social media as a way of creating community around that mission. They strive to maintain transparency, sharing what they’ve learned about regenerative agriculture with others on all scales. Vermont is their long term home, and they’re working to build a locally resilient business that serves the planet.

Their products will be available through a new website, as well as various physical locations coming soon. Until then, you can connect with Hillside Botanicals on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date with their progress.

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