business

Partner Profile: CBD Vermont

Kathryn Blume 8 Oct 2018

If you get off I-89 at Waterbury, and head towards Ben&Jerry’s on Rte 100, you’ll soon find yourself in CBD Vermont country. Tucked into the ground floor of a beautiful stone and wood building, CBD Vermont is a brand new business which just opened its doors to the public. Consisting of an extraction facility and a retail space, the store features CBD products from small-scale Vermont producers who are highly trained in herbalism – and who are often just getting off the ground as business owners.

More than just extraction and retail, though, the secret sauce of CBD Vermont’s business plan is that they’ve partnered with organic-practicing farmers in Vermont to grow high-quality hemp crops and produce full-spectrum CBD extract. They provide clones to the farmers, take responsibility for harvesting the crops, and extract CBD oil at their facility for wholesale distribution.

“We’re dedicated,” says manager Mike Crowley, “to establishing CBD Vermont as the trusted national brand for socially responsible, sustainably grown CBD products of the highest quality. We are committed” he continues, “to working with farmers in Vermont to build a thriving and profitable CBD industry.”

They see their retail space on Rte 100 as an opportunity to promote small scale producers and honor knowledge that they bring to the table. They also have a learning space where farmers, value-added producers, non-profits, and other community groups can come in and do free workshops for the public which advance sustainable farming and wellness in the state.

Owner Douglas Bell, who has an entrepreneurial history in everything from restaurants to investments, says “we believe that individual well-being goes hand in hand with a strong, sustainable agricultural economy. And,” he adds, “our whole mission is to advance sustainable agriculture and plant based health and wellness. It’s all about healthy agriculture and healthy people.”

Crowley, who has a background in addressing climate change and promoting sustainability, says that of all the places where he’s worked – from Harvard to Yestermorrow to the Institute For Sustainable Communities in Montpelier – CBD Vermont’s business model of working directly with organic farmers “has more direct impact than I’ve ever had.”

“Our whole mission is to advance sustainable agriculture and plant based health and wellness. It’s all about healthy agriculture and healthy people.”

CBD Vermont started reaching out to growers this spring and signed up organic farmers around the state to grow up to an acre of hemp to be purchased by them at harvest. The farmers have a set price in their contract that’s guaranteed to be paid per plant they put in the ground, so they know what their return is going to be.

When asked why farmers are limited to an acre each Bell explains that they didn’t have enough clones to do more than that. But, of greater significance, is their mission to be sustainable for small farmers and for the state. “We don’t want to create monocrop environment,” says Bell. “We’re going to try and bring all our farmers up to 3 acres next year. Ultimately we’ll get them to 5 acres, and hemp will be a substantial part of their income. That’s the beauty of having farmers in state. We’re paying to make this their best crop.”

Bell and Crowley have also put a primary emphasis on the quality of their product – specifically CBD oil. “Our oil will be the best you can get,” says Bell. “We’ll do testing for heavy metals and other contaminants. We’ll have a product that’s second to none, and hopefully set a standard for accountability and sustainability and safety in the supplement world.”

Crowley adds, “We’ll also donate to herbalism students so they can have an opportunity to work with the oils, which can be prohibitively expensive.”

Fundamentally, both Bell and Crowley are committed to sustaining and enhancing Vermont’s agricultural brand. “I have clients all over the world,” says Bell, “that are under contract to purchase our oils because people want what’s from Vermont.”

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