business

Lang Farm Launches Farm Fresh Hemp

Justin and John Lang
Cindy Kleh
Cindy Kleh 15 May 2019

Editorial Note: This profile was written as part of a paid business partnership.

Next Generation Inherits The Entrepreneur Gene

Organic farming is nothing new to the Lang family. John Lang has been immersed in agriculture since he could talk, growing up on Lang Farm in Essex Junction. He branched out from the family livestock business as he noticed economic changes happening in Chittenden County – development encroaching on farmland and property taxes rising faster than traditional agriculture could possibly pay off.

He kept the farm profitable by expanding their offerings to ornamental plants, trees, compost, and antiques. He created a golf course on the property, and added wedding venues and related services. “I’m a serial entrepreneur at heart,” he grinned when asked how he can keep track of so many branches of his business.

The farm was over 500 acres when he was a kid, but today, the Lang property has been trimmed down to 165 acres. For the past year, he has been making room on his land for fields of hemp plants.

John’s son, Justin Lang, wasn’t sure what he wanted for a career. He dabbled with graphic design and culinary arts, but he preferred a job that was less stressful with a healthier lifestyle. He decided to enroll in Oaksterdam University, located in Oakland, California, to learn the best business and agricultural practices for growing cannabis from experts.

“I worked inside big, industrial warehouses that had been converted into massive grows. It was dark – LED-lit, and I had weird hours. Since Vermont had already legalized hemp cultivation, I started to think about moving back home.”

“Hemp encourages conscious farming,” says Justin Lang. “it puts nutrients back into the ground and stops erosion.”

In 2018, Justin convinced his father to join him in a new business venture – Farm Fresh Hemp. They grew and harvested over 2,000 hemp plants, working hard to sustain their crop throughout a hot, dry summer.

John was initially surprised at how fast and tall hemp grew in Vermont and how much water each plant required. They chose a seed that grew into beautiful, tall (9-12 feet!), bud-heavy plants that towered above them, but with their top-heavy size, wind storms made it challenging to manage them towards the end of the season. Tall plants also take longer to mature, so the pair researched hemp strains to find the perfect cultivar for this year.

Much of the physical labor was done by John’s 83-year-old father, (known as John, Senior), who initially was somewhat skeptical about growing hemp. However, he ended up being Farm Fresh’s most dependable worker, spending long hours riding a tractor to help out however he could with the venture last summer. John, Senior now also takes dally CBD supplements.

Farm Fresh’s plan for this summer is to more than quadruple last year’s harvest with much less manual work. They invested in a carousel transplanter that can be towed behind a tractor, eliminating the back-breaking work of digging holes. The seed they chose is a cultivar that grows bushier and closer to the ground, and they plan to stake down the mature plants. They hired two full-time workers for the summer and will hire additional help at harvest time, when they plan to harvest 9,000 plants.

Lang Farm has long been known for its premium organic compost, and their hemp will soon have a certified-organic seal. They don’t use herbicides or pesticides in their fields, opting to pull weeds and use homemade all-natural pest deterrents. One of the secrets of their magical green thumbs comes from the family’s plant food recipes, perfected and handed down through the generations. Farm Fresh also tests their crop with two different labs for potency, pests, and mildew.

“Hemp encourages conscious farming,” says Justin Lang. “it puts nutrients back into the ground and stops erosion.”

“I wanted to come back to Vermont,” he adds, “when they legalized hemp, because smaller operations drive more passion than large Ag ones. I’m the 5th generation of this farming family. I wanted to keep it going. It would’ve broken my ancestors’ hearts if we let this all go to development. The biggest things are to keep it going on the farm and keep it in the family. The hardest part is keeping it economically viable during economic changes. We’re hoping that new ideas blended with old family values of respecting Mother Earth will bring us success.”

For now, Farm Fresh will sell their raw hemp to processors and middlemen, but being the entrepreneurs that they are, don’t be surprised to see them opening their own shop onsite someday. As for growing THC cannabis when it becomes legal? They haven’t ruled it out, but they do insist on doing business by the rules and laws – always.

Farm Fresh will be selling seedlings and answering questions at NECANN.

For more information, call 802-324-9988, visit Farm Fresh Hemp, Lang Barn, or stop by The Barns at Lang Farm in Essex at 51 Upper Main Street. Be sure to enjoy some treats from the on-site organic vegan bakery!

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