Fate, Teamwork, And Biodynamics: Growing Hemp At Old King Farm
Kismet (or destiny, luck, fate, and happy coincidence) perhaps best describes the discovery and establishment of Old King Farm (OKF), by its founding members Dr. Orest Pelachaty (known as Dr. O) and Rev. Susan Pelachaty.
Located in Benson, Vermont, OKF has flourished into a 102-acre spiritual sanctuary and is now the first Demeter Biodynamic and Organic certified hemp farm in the state. The husband and wife team established the farm in 2009 with a vision to build a regenerative agriculture destination retreat dedicated to eco-spiritual events.
When the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, the founders knew it was time to grow their vision of producing their own plant medicine into a reality. In 2018, the farm grew a small trial hemp crop to both experiment with growing practices and produce seed of their own for their 2019 season.
Dr. O believes that his successful first growing season was not just Beginner’s Luck, but attributes the season’s positive outcomes to biodynamic growing methods. Biodynamics is rooted in the work of philosopher and scientist Dr. Rudolf Steiner, whose 1924 lectures to farmers opened a new way to integrate scientific understanding with a recognition of spirit in nature.
Additionally, Dr. O’s family is of Ukrainian descent and his grandparents used hemp in all aspects of their daily life from fuel to food. “Hemp is in my genes,” says Dr. O. While grounded in personal history and the well-tested methods of Dr. Steiner, Dr. O is also looking to the future, noting that “Old King Farm is dedicated to the next seven generations with regenerative agricultural practices that support the local environment and biosphere.”
Dr. O leans on his 34 years of experience as a medical herbalist and alchemist, as well as his vision of “40 acres of hemp growing in the fields” to lead the farm’s production. “We planted 880 plants on two acres of land and harvested around 500 pounds,” he says. “It was really something to see the variety of plants that we grew from the same seed. Each hemp plant has a personality of its own, the Boax strain produced six different varietals from the same seed that we noticed.”
“Old King Farm is dedicated to the next seven generations with regenerative agricultural practices that support the local environment and biosphere.”
Another aspect to the personality of the plants stems from the energetics of biodynamic applications and methods. Concepts such as frequency, regeneration, vibration, and alchemy – metaphysical as they are – are vital to daily life on the farm. Every step from planting to cultivation to processing was well planned, and each plant was harvested for a slow cure craft process in historic barns on the property, from there the plants were hand trimmed then bucked on site.
Farm Manager Roman Be recounts numerous unusual events that seemed to stem from their Biodynamic practices, including the fact that fog would drift across the field, and as it drifted toward the hemp plants, the fog would simply stop and roll back as it reached the biodynamically treated plants.”
Be thinks that the protection from extra moisture and biodynamic applications is one reason OKF avoided a moldy growing season. “I definitely believe we’re onto something,” he says, “and I have seen first hand too many anomalies not to take Biodynamics seriously.” As Be reflects on his first hemp growing season, he says, “I am feeling good about the harvest and products. I know we have something very special here and I am thrilled to be on the ground floor of something I believe will have a far reach into the world and into the future.”
“There are a lot of products out there and we feel that we have grown the highest level most effective plant medicine available. We are taking it to the next level beyond organic.”
Mystic Mountain Magicals is OKF’s line of biodynamic/organic certified smokeable flower and topicals, and Dr. O is happy with the flower the plants have produced. “We grew a high end pest/mold resistant crop and our terpene profiles are off the chart,” he says. “There are a lot of products out there and we feel that we have grown the highest level most effective plant medicine available. We are taking it to the next level beyond organic.”
With their first crop harvested, the OKF team, which operates on a partnership model, has decided to handle their own processing on site as well. “We have not found a processor that has a standard that is as high as ours,” says Dr. O, and “we are very picky about the quality of our product so we are working to handle our own processing.”
The 2019 growing season did not come without some bumps and bruises as Vermont endured a very wet spring that held up planting throughout the state.
“We faced all kinds of challenges due to rain and our farm is mostly clay that would not dry out,” says Dr. O. “It took constant manpower and logistics to get up and running. One of our biggest hurdles was that most skilled workers and even consultants were too habituated to the marijuana trade and thus had a hard time adapting to the specific issues around Vermont CBD hemp. The lack of manpower for harvest was also a challenge.”
With the 2019 season coming to a close, OKF is looking forward to growing season number two as they remain committed to growing biodynamic/organic certified natural plant medicine.