As Vermont’s cannabis industry expands, the owners of Barton-based Northeast Kingdom Hemp are betting that their cottage, hand-processed hemp products will appeal to the state’s locally-focused consumers.
To that end, the fledgling farmers have produced CBD-infused maple syrup, and are in the final stages of producing maple-flavored and “Berry Natural” sublingual tinctures. At Saturday’s SKI-BD event at Burke Mountain, they offered their natural-flavored CBD oil, vape cartridges and an infused lotion.
“We certainly hope our market is going to be hand-grown, hand-tended,” NEK Hemp co-owner Karen Devereux said. “I don’t see us going a more industrial route, and there is a market here for family-grown, tended with tender-love-and-care, high-quality products.”
NEK Hemp is the brainchild of Karen’s husband Cam; and, when he suggested the plant, she was skeptical of her husband’s plan. It was when she and her mother tried CBD products that Karen was convinced.
“My mother has a lot of arthritis pain,” Karen explained. “And I was like, ‘If you can come up with something that will help my mother’s pain, I’m in.’” The couple eventually went to Oregon to see a hemp farm in action and soon decided to put seed in the ground.
Cam spent 30 years as a pipe welder, and the trade took a toll on his body. He began using CBD to treat the aches and pains, Karen said, and he’s now virtually pain free – even while working long hours planting and preparing their one acre crop, which produced about 2,000 pounds of raw hemp.
The project quickly became a family affair, requiring the help of the couple’s two sons as well as their parents, cousins and nephews. Karen said at first her parents weren’t sure what to make of the family’s venture, but by the end of the season, both were onboard.
Karen said the Northeast Kingdom was once one of the top hemp producers in the U.S., and Vermont’s hemp laws could allow the crop to, once again, proliferate. That would be a boon to agriculture in the the region though Karen cautions that many would-be hemp cultivators might not “understand quite how much work goes into it.”
While the company hopes to eventually provide some jobs to the region, Karen described the start-up’s first year as a “roller coaster ride,” and for now, hiring will have to wait.
“But every time someone comes back and says, ‘Oh my God, I feel so much better,’ it’s worth it,” she said.
The ups and downs stem, in part, from a lack of hemp processing infrastructure in Vermont, Karen said, but CBD-centric events, such as SKI-BD, are providing hemp farmers, manufacturers, and retailers an outlet to showcase their products.
It’s also a chance to network, which is important for any new industry. Karen describes her two sons and Cam as “ski freaks,” which made the SKI-BD event – hosted in the Devereux’s proverbial backyard of Burke Mountain – a natural fit.
(This is a sponsored post. If you have a cannabis business and are interested in being a sponsor contact email@example.com)