Industry Insider/Farmer Talk

Starting A Hemp Brand. Should You White vs Private Label? Learn the Difference

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Starting Your Hemp Brand Business

BFF HempLikely right now you’ve got more time on your hands, counting COVID blessings 🙌🏾. I know we’ve been saying this a lot of late, but these are still unprecedented times. The Blue Forest Farms family has always been made up of farmers, entrepreneurs, and industry disruptors who are resilient and no stranger to challenges. We understand that with chaos comes a certain opportunity as well.

Drawing inspiration from tech, some of the most popular startups of today we’re birthed out of the 2008 USA economic crisis, seeing that we’re in a challenging time of today, now is a great time to get started in the hemp industry, or take your existing hemp business to the next level.

Different and Various Hemp Business Options

For being one of the oldest industrial crops even known to man, the global hemp industry is still at a very young development stage in history. Here in the United States things have picked up since 2014, fast-forward to 2020 countries from South Africa and Australia are starting to come online. We’re seeing legislation being passed, and conversations about the growth and exciting opportunities economically, socially, and environmentally leading to various business opportunities.

Harvest Hemp For Oil Business

Most of the approved legal hemp plans involve regulations for limits of THC levels indicating that growers of organic hemp are doing so primarily for wholesale CBD isolate and concentrate. This option is appealing to the industry because of the familiarity of people knowing how to process the Cannabis plan into oil and make other distillates in bulk. Blue Forest Farms has experience in this arena, we launched our Whats Your Number System earlier this year.

Start a Hemp Tech Company

Also earlier this year during our Future of Cannabis Webinar we learned that Cannabis specific investment firms increasingly are financing new software or platforms that impact the tech side of the hemp industry. This can be solutions for payment processing online, or in cannabis dispensaries, to at-home devices like this easy bake oven for making your very own CBD edible treats at home. If you’ve got an innovative tech idea that relates to hemp, and want to pique the interest of investors this is a good route to take.

Start a Hemp Investment Firm

Speaking of investors, ask yourself if you meet these conditions: you’re the type who would rather not get their hands dirty in the field, greenhouse, or laboratory, and you’ve got a lot of spare cash lying around. If you answered yes to both, you’re in the perfect position to become a hemp investor. You can go the traditional route and get accredited, or use sources like social media, apps, and crowdsourcing platforms to find brands looking for funding.

Social Justice Brand or Hemp Healing Center

The cannabis industry has a long history with injustices, and as we see states like California, Hawaii, Texas, Florida, joining the hemp revolution social justice organizations, non-profits, and community groups are forming business whose sole focus is to bring balance to humanity in some way through the power of this amazing plant! If you’re heart is in it, you may want to start this type of hemp business.

Flower Specialty line

An excellent business to start or expand to if you’re already growing hemp is a Flower Specialty Line. Instead of processing CBD flower for oils, you can use the hemp flower to make pre-rolled cigarettes, or sell the hemp flower in bulk. If you grow exclusive hemp strains like Hot Blonde and Queen Dream you avoid the market saturation of other strains. This is the same for growing hemp strains that are good for bulk hemp oil as well.

Growing Hemp For A White or Private Label Retail Line

One of the hemp business types that we support at Blue Forest Farms is supporting our farmers with answering the question what can you do with wholesale CBD isolate and concentrate? With our extensive lab experience and relationships we have successfully formulated unique and award winning products that can be sold direct to a consumer, or at wholesale distribution prices.

Contact us now at (303) 962-8250 to get started, mention #blueisbest to save 20% your initial white or private label order.

Hemp Private LabelWhat’s The Difference Between White Label and Private Label

The difference between the two is minor, but important. A private label brand is sold exclusively at one retailer through an agreement between two businesses while when you start a white label brand you are taking the formulation of an already existing brand, like BFF Hemp What’s Your Number System and putting your own label (renaming and rebranding) on it to resell as your own.

Benefits of Private Label

If you already own a retail storefront that is direct to consumer, like a dispensary, health club, cafe, or you’re thinking about opening one, having a private label CBD Hemp brand in your store has a huge benefit to your business. Consumers will only be able to get that specific product offering at your location(s), therefore driving traffic directly to you increasing sales of all your services and products. You benefit from the cross marketing of the private label, and people these days enjoy being able to say they use “an exclusive brand.” It’s great for social media collaboration and attention points.

Benefits of White Label

With white label, you have way more flexibility and control. You can get creative with your branding and marketing, and because of the nature of our global economy, your return on investment opportunity is greater than the private label route. It’s also a lot easier. More brands are eager to allow white labeling of their product, and everything is ready to go from a assets perspective. It’s a plug and play solution that can easily scale.

Contact us now at (303) 962-8250 to get started, mention #blueisbest to save 20% your initial white or private label order.

Farming Marketing 101

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Holding Hemp Plants

When you think “farmer,” the  image in your mind might be from childhood books and songs, “Old McDonald had a Farm,” – a person working in the field with a big straw hat and driving a tractor. That might still be true for some, but our Blue Forest Farms farmer partners don’t fit a single mold. And today a successful farmer needs to work just as hard on their marketing strategies as they do outdoors in their fields to be successful. Modern times mean there are way more opportunities for farmers to market directly to their consumers, but also that failing to do so could cause new, or even well established, farmers to struggle or fail. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  1. what does a successful marketing plan look like?
  2. what options exist for farmers to market themselves?
  3. what strategies have proven to be the best investments of your time and resources?

Each farmer is unique, but there are some universal tips that can be applied to help get your business on an upward trajectory.

Hemp Sales Avenues

If you have a farm, especially a small or new one, you know that selling your entire crop is typically the goal. You have that short window after harvest to move your product, and identifying all the possible ways to sell your crop or products will give you the most opportunities to sell out your stock. The simplest solution is obviously direct sales, where you simply set up a structure or location on your property where people can come and purchase directly from you. This has tons of convenience, but obviously relies on your farm being accessible and visible, or having some way to drive traffic to your locale.

Many farmers rely on Farmers Markets, which bring a large number of people to a central location instead of, or in addition to, them coming directly to you. If your farm is within driving distance of a Farmers Market, having a booth or space, especially if you can arrange to be in the same location for each market, can connect you with a pool of ideal customers, and lead to repeat sales just by you showing up. Make sure to distinguish yourself by giving thought to the look of your stand and display, and making sure the name of your farm or products is prominent using a banner or logo. Friendly staff and samples, if appropriate, are other ways to drive traffic to your booth.

Community Supported Agriculture is a fairly recent innovation that gets your wares in the hands of consumers who will appreciate them. CSA shares is a system that individual customers buy into. People agree to support you season by season for a certain dollar amount, for which you will give them an agreed upon amount of your crop on a regular basis. This has the advantage of building your customer base, while also knowing exactly how much money you can expect to make. Finally, speaking to local restaurants or shops can be a very consistent and reliable source of income, even for hemp farmers. Restaurants, chefs, and boutique owners love to access fresh, local ingredients and will often pay well for them.

Be High Grade – Stand Out From The Crowd

You’re eventually going to have to figure out the best platforms for reaching your customers, but first you should determine what makes you and your farm unique. Assume that every potential customer that comes to your site or reads your blog is wondering why they should buy from you instead of someone else. What is unique about you, your farm, or your products that can’t be found elsewhere? Imagine your target demographic and speak to them as directly as possible. Being able to preemptively answer questions or ease concerns will make your customers more eager to purchase from you right away. Finally, a strong logo and tagline can be useful in building your brand. You don’t have to hire an ad company – you are the expert on your farm after all – so think about how to sum up who you are and what you do. Talk to your friends after you come up with some ideas. Logos can be simple, but should clearly represent your business and objectives in a positive way. You want people to feel good about your brand when they see it. Taglines should emphasize the unique qualities of your brand, and be short and memorable. Logos and taglines are all around us. Identify some that strike you and and brainstorm until you find something you think represents your business and goals best.

Marketing is an ever changing landscape. What worked ten years ago won’t today, and what works today may not work tomorrow. The difference between successful businesses and ones that struggle or fail is the ability to adapt and evolve with the trends, while staying true to their core values. Farmers may have one of the oldest professions that exists, but you need to be on the cutting edge with technology if you hope to survive and thrive. These tips should help you get a start in marketing your farm, but marketing is an ongoing process of learning and growing that should not be neglected.

Get Your Name Out There

Now that you’ve figured out your distinctive edge in the landscape of farm products – hemp or otherwise – it’s time to figure out how to get your name out there, especially if you want to grow. Actually, no matter how big or small your farm is, a strong presence on the internet can enhance your business in today’s world. The internet is the first place people go to when searching for everything, even fresh produce or products. Buying locally is a common value these days, and you want your business to show up in those searches and look professional. That means more than having a website, though. Social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are just as important for bringing people to your business. Having all these tools isn’t enough, though, you have to maintain and be active on them, too. Your website should obviously have all the information people need: where you’re located, how to contact you, what your products are, etc, but having a regular blog and posting and communicating on social media regularly will help keep your name relevant when people search. If you have products that can be mailed, that is another easy way to make additional sales.

We may not always like it, but the online world of marketing directly to consumers is here to stay! It’s really not that hard to get started and stay relevant to the ideal consumer of your farm products.

Sources:

https://www.thespruce.com/market-your-small-farm-products-3016897

https://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Bulletins/Marketing-Strategies-for-Farmers-and-Ranchers/Text-Version

https://www.hobbyfarms.com/11-steps-to-successful-farm-marketing-2/

Genetics 101: Heredity & DNA of Hemp and Humans

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It’s all about genetics! Whether it be why your eyes are blue or why a hemp variety produces high levels of CBD, it all comes down to genetics. With genetic sequencing technology, scientists have been able to predict how plants are going to look and behave before they’ve even been planted. This information is crucial to your decision on which hemp varieties to plant.  

Genetics: The basics  

Buckle your seatbelts and enjoy the ride back to 6th grade biology class! Before we can fully explore the importance of genetic sequencing, it’s useful to have a good foundation in the basics of genetics itself. 

First things first, genetics is the study of heredity. Heredity is the expression of traits and how they are passed from parents to offspring. To understand heredity, we need to explore DNA, chromosomes, genes, and traits.   

DNA - Deoxyribonucleic acid – is present in almost every cell of every living thing. Chains of repeating nucleotides form the double strands of DNA. DNA is responsible for replicating and storing all genetic information. Essentially, DNA is the molecular recipe for an organism and provides all the necessary instructions for that organism – plant, animal, or human – to grow and function. 

DNA Details  

Gene – A gene is a section of a DNA molecule. A gene isn’t just any section of DNA, though. It is a specific section that codes for a specific protein or group of proteins. These proteins are responsible for various traits. DNA can contain hundreds of thousands of genes.  

Trait – A trait is any feature of an organism that can be passed from one generation to another. An example of a trait in humans is eye color. In hemp, an important trait is CBD concentration. 

Chromosome – A chromosome is an entire chain of DNA wrapped along a protein structure. Basically, it’s a condensed form of DNA that is specifically produced to be shared with offspring. Humans have a total of 46 chromosomes that always occur in pairs. Twenty-three of those chromosomes come from the female and 23 come from the male. Hemp chromosomes function very similarly, but hemp has a total of only 20 chromosomes. 

Allele – An allele is a specific variation of a gene. For example, eye color possesses a few different alleles like the brown allele, blue allele, green allele, and so on. They occur on a fixed spot in a chromosome. Organisms always have two alleles for each gene – one from each parent or chromosome. These alleles can be the same (homozygous) or different (heterozygous).   

So, to sum things up, chromosomes contain genes, which are made up of portions of DNA. Variations in the nucleotides that make up the DNA sequence account for differences in traits. The traits that organisms express are dictated by which alleles present themselves in the organism’s parents.   

Now we’re getting to the fun part… And by fun part, I mean the part that plays the biggest role in predicting how a plant might appear or behave. We are here to apply all this genetics knowledge to hemp, after all.   

Some of the most important work on heredity and genomics was completed by Gregor Mendel using pea plants. By breeding multiple generations of plants, he observed that certain alleles are dominant while others are recessive. To make this really clear, let’s go back to the example of human eye color. A brown-eyed male and a brown-eyed female produce a child. In each of their genetic material, the brown eye allele is dominant, but they also both possess the allele for blue eyes as recessive. Because both parents carry the blue eye allele, there is a chance their child will have blue eyes, but it’s not very likely. The Punnett square below illustrates the possible phenotypic outcomes for eye color in this circumstance.    

As illustrated above, by being able to assess an organism’s DNA, we’re able to predict what traits its offspring might code for and express, and the likelihood of each expression. This information has been observed by farmers and animal breeders for centuries, but with DNA sequencing methods, we are much more able to harness its predictive power.   

DNA Sequencing: What is it?    

DNA sequencing is the process of determining and mapping the placement and order of nucleotides in DNA. As we learned above, determining this can tell scientists multitudes of information, including where genes are located and how they are expressed.   

So, what does all this have to do with hemp?  

Unlike other plant species, scientists were not able to sequence the cannabis genome until recently due to regulations against marijuana. Though it is just in its infancy, research strongly suggests that it is genetic variations that differentiate hemp from its intoxicating counterpart, marijuana. These genetic variations explain how plants from the same species evolve to become two distinct plants and can be traced to two specific genes.  

Typically, the marijuana chemotype has a high THCa and low CBDa ratio while the hemp chemotype has a low THCa and a high CBDa ratio. THCa and CBDa are formed when CBGa, the mother of all cannabinoids, interacts with either THCa synthase or CBDa synthase. THCa and CBDa then convert from their acidic forms to THC and CBD when exposed to heat and light. While mapping the genomes of both marijuana and hemp, researchers discovered that plants that express high levels of THC code for a hyperactive THCa synthase gene and those with higher levels of CBD code for a hyperactive CBDa synthase gene.  

By identifying the genes responsible for cannabinoid production, scientists are making progress in determining how to produce certain cannabinoids in commercial quantities. This information allows us to breed cultivars that are more likely to remain compliant while expressing high levels of CBD. And that’s what hemp farmers must do in order to cultivate a usable product under current regulations. 

With the help of genetic sequencing technology, scientist have even pinpointed a genetic marker for increased glandular trichome production on the plants leaves, not just the flower. Because the cannabinoid chemicals are synthesized within the frosty, hairlike trichomes on the flowers of mature hemp plants, breeding plants to express glandular trichomes on both the leaves and flowers would be extremely beneficial to the concentrate industry as well as the topical industry, as it would produce higher cannabinoid yields per plant.  

What Is Genetic Testing?

Genetic testing is the cutting edge for breeders who want to develop unique and exceptional products for their customers, whether they be growers or consumers. First by understanding the genetics of the hemp plant, then by intentionally manipulating those genetics, farmers and breeders can create new strains that contain higher levels of the specific compounds that are most desirable for their use or product. No matter how skilled the farmer, or how ideal the growing conditions are, a plant with poor genes can never outperform one with superior genes. Genetic testing is a process that allows us to see a plant’s genetic makeup, or genotype. This reveals the plant’s hidden potential! Once identified, breeders can then begin to selectively breed plants in order to pass on the traits they want, and suppress, or eliminate, those that they don’t want. Genetic testing also certifies seeds for other vital characteristics like gender and lineage. 

Understanding Genetics Benefits the Industry 

At this point, anyone growing hemp knows about the Farm Bill regulations requiring that hemp must test at a maximum limit of 0.3% THC in order to remain compliant. If any crop tests higher than that, in most cases it must be destroyed, costing the farmer many thousands of dollars in wasted time and resources. One of the aims of genetic testing is to eliminate the possibility of a crop unexpectedly breaching that THC limit. If we can eradicate the guesswork of a plant’s potential, we get rid of the fear that a crop will fail in pre-harvest testing. It makes sense to know as much as we can about hemp genetics. Did you know that even plants without a functioning THCa gene still have the potential to produce THCa? It’s possibly a byproduct of other genes in the plant. 

The more we know about genetics, the more we’ll unravel these current mysteries. We’ll be increasingly able to breed for plants that reliably test within USDA limits, as well as exciting developments like increasing hemp’s resistance to pathogens such as molds, mildews, and insects. Because there are no approved pesticides for use on hemp plants, having strong traits is the best and healthiest way to keep your crop healthy.  

There are so many amazing things genetic testing can reveal! And the genetic knowledge and insight gained from the sophisticated genetic testing currently in development will lead to even more industry improvements across all sectors. For breeders and vendors, it can determine relatives and clonal relationships, and reduce variety and random factors from appearing in future generations. You will be able to identify and select certain physical structures to create sturdier crops, crops that produce a larger final harvest, or crops with an ideal growing cycle for your locale. Finally, genetic testing is a vital tool for protecting your strains from things like false patent claims.  

Thanks for taking this brief tour through the basics of genetics, hemp genetics, and genetic testing. We hope you and your plants benefit from your increased knowledge. Happy fields!

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3359589/

https://phys.org/news/2018-11-ancient-viruses-cannabis-high.html

https://genome.cshlp.org/content/29/1/146

https://www.pnas.org/content/116/18/8638

https://sciencing.com/nucleic-acids-structure-function-types-examples-13718409.html

https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/basics/dna

Blue Forest Farm Co-Founder Publishes Children Book All About Hemp

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:   

Bootstrap Publications

Info@bootstrappublications.com

www.bootstrappublications.com

Photos can be made available and interviews can be arranged upon request.

Blue Forest Farm Co-Founder Publishes Children Book All About Hemp

Zach Dorsett, a co-founder of one of the largest organic hemp farms and leading supplier of hemp genetics in Colorado, is launching his first ever children’s book that will teach children all about the positive attributes of the hemp plant.  Titled “A Hemp Story”, the book tells the story of the “magical” hemp plant through history through colorful and expressive illustrations.   The story follows two characters based off the children of Blue Forest Farms co-founder Trina Johnson’s own children Ari and Jacob as they listen to their Grampa tell them all the ways hemp has been used historically to benefit people, animals, and the planet, leading up to the current day where it has been heavily regulated and repressed.   

It shines light on the prohibition era has constructive takeaway lessons and a call to action,” Zach states.   “It’s focused on educating a generation of children that will be growing up in a world where hemp is at least semi-legal. I think one needs to know some of the history that has brought us here but also needs to know the work that it’s going to take to get us to the next level–that we need to achieve to create the long-lasting world change that we’re all talking about.”

Available now for preorder, “A Hemp Story” is more than just a charming story that will help children and adults learn the truth about the hemp plant, but also an invitation to get involved in the ongoing story of hemp. Parent of 7 year old Hailey, Bethany Downs from Keystone Heights, Florida got a chance to read an advanced copy of the book to Hailey and said “I like the subject matter especially with my health issues and helping Hailey understand my choices for alternative medicine vs just what a doctor prescribes from big pharma.

Preorder: https://bffhemp.com/product/a-hemp-story/

Zach doesn’t intend for the book’s story to end on the final pages, but continue on by asking the reader, no matter their age, to become a part of the story themselves by contacting local representatives about protecting the hemp plant.   

You can get updates on the book’s publication by following Zach at (insert Zach or the book’s social media), and Blue Forest Farms at our website BlueForestFarms.com and @blueforestfarms on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

About Blue Forest Farms: 

Blue Forest Farms is a 200-acre hemp farm in Longmont, Colorado offering high CBD flower, seed, and extracts. With over 40 years of combined organic farming and extraction experience, our team of farmers, botanists and extraction professionals understand what it takes to deliver exceptional hemp products. Blue Forest Farms is legally registered with the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) and all our industrial hemp products are grown using safe, organic farming practices. 

Industry Insider: Jae Graham

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At Blue Forest Farms, we believe in spreading the love. Each member of this amazing community has a story to tell and we think these stories deserve to be heard. This week, we’re sharing Jae Graham’s story.  

Jae Graham is the co-owner and co-founder of MaryJae Modern Cannabis Experience, a boutique and lifestyle shop in Austin, Texas. The shop, inspired by Graham’s father, was founded to help others and offer a judgment-free experience for the canna-curious.

Before opening the shop, Graham was a buyer for a local adult retail store, growing their smoke section from one case to thirty cases and eventually buying for sixteen locations. After more than six years there, Graham and her partner, Francisca, decided to travel the states for a year, to learn more about cannabis businesses, before opening MaryJae in 2017.

Now, three years later, the shop is ranked number one on Yelp and was voted Austin’s Best CBD Purveyor. As her business grows, Graham continues to advocate for the legalization of cannabis and hopes MaryJae will serve as a base for those looking to learn more.

Tell us the story of how you got started in the industry?

It all started when I was taking my ill father to his doctor’s appointment. We both saw a now hiring sign in front of a nearby shop; we giggled about it, and well, I was looking for employment, so I made my way inside. I was hired and became a Manager/ Buyer where my duties were to purchase for specific departments. One of them being the “Smoke Shop” department, where there was only one case. My supervisor sent me to my first trade show, where he said,” Let’s see what you do with it.” I filled that one case, and everything sold pretty quickly. That one case turned into a dozen, and that dozen turned into purchasing for 16 stores. I had found my calling! I loved to shop for others, and people gravitated to what I picked out.

While I was working full time, I was also my father’s full-time caregiver. He was in his 70’s and dealing with cirrhosis of the liver and prostate cancer. I would see him in pain most of the time, which caused him not to have an appetite and not sleep well. That’s when I decided to share my knowledge of cannabis with him. It was something that helped me daily, so why not share that with him and see if that could help him. I remember my brother and I sitting with him, rolling his first joint, and just talking. He started to feel a little light-headed, so I laid him down to rest. About 20 minutes later, I checked on him to see if he was ok and he raised his head from the pillow and said,” Honey, can I get Kerbey Lane, a chili cheese dog with extra onions and a drink from Sonic?” As I laughed, I told him, “You can have anything you want.”

To see a man so skinny and frail who could not eat or keep anything down to eating anything and everything. Wow, what a special moment for our family. Cannabis truly gave him a quality of life! Before his passing on October 27, 2015, he told me, “Please share cannabis with everyone, especially older people like me.”

Fast forward to 2016, I was depressed, and my life was at a standstill. I had lost my best friend, and I didn’t know how to cope. That’s when my partner Francisca, who had also helped me take care of my father, said to me,” Let’s sell everything and help people like your father understand cannabis better.” We opened MaryJae in 2017.

How has your life changed since getting involved in the industry?

It’s changed tremendously! I have found my voice and purpose in life. I was starting to get a little worried that I was not going to find “the perfect job/profession” by the time I turned 40. When I entered the industry, I felt alive and had so much to share with the world; I know this is where I am supposed to be.

What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

Oh, challenges, we have been banned on all social media platforms for advertising to having our credit card processor companies drop us (multiple times). We always find ways around the “normal” because we have always had to. To us outside the box is where we live, so we get creative, reach out and research, then we double down and take action right away.

What are your favorite podcasts, books, and apps?

Honestly, I just started getting into podcasts and reading books. I felt like I never took the time to do either, and now I realize that it’s SO important, especially for an entrepreneur. I have always had a fear of reading a book front to back since I have a learning disability and mix my letters around while reading. I am currently facing this challenge, so I’ll get back to you! 

Current Podcast: GaryVee / Leaders Create Leaders with my mentor Gerard Adams

What do you see as the future of the Cannabis industry?

I see cannabis being accessible to everyone in every state. Unfortunately, that also comes with cannabis being capitalized by big pharma, which breaks my heart. This is why it’s so important to support your local small businesses as we can control and weed out the bad medicine for our people!

If you were to give advice to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps what would it be?

  1. Stay true to yourself and continue to be a student of your craft.
  2. Take your skills and see how you can transfer that into the industry.
  3. Network Network Network!
  4. Be the positive change.

We are so grateful for Jae and the work she’s doing to make cannabis accessible to all consumers. Because of people like her, we are paving the way for a happier, healthier future. 

Choose Hemp. Grow Love.  

Check out MaryJae’s socials:

Instagram: @ShopMaryJae

https://www.instagram.com/ShopMaryJae

Facebook: MaryJae

https://www.facebook.com/ShopMaryJae

Twitter: ShopMaryJae 

https://twitter.com/ShopMaryJae

Website: www.MaryJae.com

Industry Insider: Michael Samaniego

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At Blue Forest Farms, we know so much of what we do wouldn’t be possible without our partners, which is why we’ve decided to start sharing the love. Hemp has always been communal so why not spread the positivity it brings as well. 

Michael Samaniego, a grower in our Blue Forest family, knows firsthand the life changing effects of hemp. He was kind enough to share his story:

How did you start growing hemp?

Michael Samaniego: 2016 was a down point in my life. Loss of hope to continue my, then, career as a firefighter and passion for helping people in my community. In July of that year, I was arrested for misdemeanor DUI and sentenced to 3 years informal probation and mandatory DUI classes. I was depressed to the point of cutting myself, even with smoking cannabis. It was the feeling of all my anger, sadness, doubt, and myself leaking out whenever I would cut. Think of it like a pressure release valve, this was my way of not reaching the point of actually killing myself. 

Going into 2017, I had found hope. I had remembered a friend of mine giving me some cannabis seeds a few years past and I decided to try growing. My first crop was horrible– DIY tent with light leaks and spider mites everywhere. After that, I was determined not to fail again. I could not go on with the same doubt of myself as a person.

I started watching grow videos on YouTube and decided if I was going to grow cannabis, I should do it right. I started learning what I could about nutrient uptake, media that can hold onto ions– if not then you had to give nutrients differently– microbes, and the different types of fungi and the relationship they have with the plant.

Last year for the outdoor season I decided to try and grow some hemp. I knew what I needed and invested in OMRI Listed supplements, a filter to dechlorinate my water, irrigation, and my IPM regiment was greatly updated with beneficial predators.

How has hemp changed your life?

MS: Growing cannabis is my life. Learning how to use the soil to my advantage is my fun. Seeing the outcome of my sweat and hours makes it worth moving forward. Without cannabis, and now without hemp, I don’t see a complete life. Because what saved me from ending it all is that I am now responsible for a life that can help.

It’s not for profit for me, it’s just the air I breathe or even the water my plants need. It’s worth fighting for legislation and change, because everyone needs to see the true potential of this life.

What made you choose Blue Forest Farms? 

MS: AC/DC was the first hemp plant I grew. Unfortunately, I waited too long and couldn’t save a clone going into flower. So then I went looking around and found Blue Forest Farms. The main thing that got me interested was that BFF plants are grown using safe, organic farming practices. The same kind of organic growing that I want to keep alive.

What do you see as the future of the farming industry? 

MS: The city that I live in has three different types of oranges growing around the limits as well as heading up to work. Since growing, I look at the world differently. Though most of them grow with synthetic nutrients, the needs of the plant were the same. I believe that first one must want to change the world by limiting the use of synthetic nutrients, insecticides and fungicides to a more organic way. Each time I look for a product, I look to see if it’s OMRI listed for the US or approved for organic growing from Canada. 

The hardest part of growing organically is the time and dedication in the dirt. Being one with the microbes, fungi and even biological solutions to pest management. The cost is also one thing stopping those synthetic farms from going organic. I believe there can be a change to the farm industry. How long that can take is all up to those who want to change.

What are your favorite podcasts, books, and apps? 

MS: When I first learned how to grow I watched a lot of CaliGreen videos on YouTube. He was able to explain the symbiotic relationship of the microbes and plants to a level that made it all click. It was then that I knew I needed to try and go organic when growing. Mr. Grow It, Mr. Canucks, NPK University Harley Smithx and Liquid Jade are a few who influenced my growing style.

If you were to give any piece of advice to someone looking to grow hemp, what would you say? 

MS: The best advice I can give to someone wanting to try growing is to look up NPK University on YouTube. Plant essential elements, complete plant nutrition, organic bio-stimulants as well as soil microbiology. If you show love to the soil, the soil will show love to your plant.

We are so grateful to have Michael as part of the BFF family and we can’t wait to see what he grows next. To keep up with Michael, follow him on Instagram @casualgrower_ssg64

Hemp: Revitalizing Agriculture with Modern Farmers

150 150 Blue Forest Farms

Hemp: Revitalizing Agriculture with Modern Farmers

At Blue Forest Farms we believe high grade hemp and CBD have the incredible ability to change people’s lives for the better. Sharing these benefits with the world is our driving force. It’s the reason we focus on our genetics program. Our hemp seeds are breed to be the best, containing the high CBD content to be legal, grow hemp plants that produce high yields, and can be turned around to be made into hemp oil, smokable, or whatever else a business owner desires.

This week we spoke to Matthew (Matt) West. Matt is one of our partner farmers who has been a longtime champion of the health benefits of cannabis. Typically farming is an industry that people grow into, through family history and heritage. Matt, with his passion for science and background in medicine is part of this new wave of Modern Farmers. Modern Farmers combine passion and knowledge to do work that is purpose driven and profitable.

Learn about the work that Matt is doing, his infatuation with hemp oil, how he got into the industry and more in the interview below.

“I am and have always been a proud American, I feel no one else can grow or make products like us.”

Medical Professional Enjoys Science of Cannabis Industry

Industry Insider Matthew West

Hi Matt! Thanks for sharing with us today. Can you talk a little about yourself and your work?

I’ve worked in the cardiac side of medicine my entire medical career and currently work as an inpatient Cardiac Electrophysiology Nurse Practitioner. In short, I specialize in heart arrhythmias, pacemakers, and internal defibrillators. I love science, especially Chemistry and Biology. I guess that is what my major passion has been, although until last year, that has been mainly in the human sciences sphere.

The best part about the Cannabis industry is I can utilize my love for science in the human sphere as well as diving into the horticulture sphere. I especially love the extraction process, the chemistry behind it, and how I can utilize my science degree to help benefit all of my clients with superior CBD products. I was a longtime advocate for the utilization of Cannabis for its multitude of medicinal benefits. Thanks to the 2018 farm bill, I was able to start experimenting with Hemp extraction and growing the plant.

BFF Extraction PRocess Americans Advocating For Cannabis By Becoming Entrepreneurs

How did you get started?

My advocacy for Cannabis has been around since I started in the medical field in 2011. I had always known about the medicinal benefits of Cannabis, but I started hearing about CBD around 2012. I knew it was legal to purchase in the US, but it could not be grown legally. This frustrated me. I am and have always been a proud American, I feel no one else can grow or make products like us. So, why our government would allow a product like CBD to be purchased, but unable to be grown in the US, befuddled me. Then the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill occurred. This was what drove me to invest my time and money into starting Fan Leaf Infusions.

I started out with growing clones and I partnered with a local farmer for biomass to start processing in November of 2019. I then wanted to try my hand at growing from seeds; this is where Blue Forest Farms came in. They not only had superior genetics, they were willing and able to package hemp seeds into smaller quantities to help smaller farmers like myself. I had no need to purchase thousands of seeds because I have never planned on growing that many plants. My grow operation has been an indoor grow since the beginning. I plan to focus mainly on growing indoor this year and will potentially try my hand at outdoor growing this summer.

Growing Hemp Changes Peoples Lives

 “Long story short, helping people, especially those close to me, has greatly changed my life for the better.”

Fan Leaf CBD Oil

Hemp has changed my life in more ways than I can count. The biggest change to my life has not actually occurred to me personally, but to my mother and sister. My mom has been battling Multiple Sclerosis since I was a teenager and she was starting to have a major relapse about the time I extracted and completed my first batch of CBD oil. She started taking the tincture on a Monday night, again taking a dose on Tuesday morning.

After waiting in the ER for 8 hours in a wheelchair to be seen by the neurologist to discuss her symptoms, he recommended an MRI of her brain. On Wednesday morning she underwent the procedure and to our surprise her symptoms had started resolving themselves. Her MRI showed no new lesions or areas of inflammation. She was discharged home with no new medications or recommendations.

Since she has continued to take my CBD oil and has continued to progress and recover amazingly. She is stronger now, her tremors have greatly decreased, and she is sleeping better than she has in years. The only change to her daily routine was taking my CBD oil. My sister has also benefited greatly from reduction in anxiety, sleeping better, and, crazy enough, a reduction in her menopausal symptoms. So, long story short, helping people, especially those close to me, has greatly changed my life for the better.

Superior Genetics Important for Hemp Growers

What made you choose Blue Forest Farms?

I was searching for a reputable company that offered options to buy hemp seeds in smaller quantities. I did not need 1,000 seeds, and several companies I had contacted would not do business with me. I found Blue Forest Farms, I read their entire website and contacted them via email. The response to my message was quick, professional, and very helpful. Ultimately, I felt confident in my purchase, and not to mention, the superior genetics were a huge draw to Blue Forest Farms as well!

What challenges have you faced in your life and how did you overcome them?

Everyone faces challenges in their lives, sometimes the challenges may seem insurmountable. My biggest challenge that I personally faced was returning to school for my Master’s degree all while raising young children and continuing to work almost full-time. I feel strongly that people who are successful in life and business are of the mindset that any obstacle can be overcome. Hard work will always pay dividends in the long run. In business, my passion for what I do drives me forward and the love of my family is my backbone.

Social Media Will Play a Role in the Growth of Industry

BFF High CBD Strain

What are your favorite podcasts, books, and apps?

I listen to murder mystery podcasts, Joe Rogan episodes of people I find interesting, and Dave Ramsey podcasts. I just finished listening to a trilogy by Jeff Shaara on World War II; it was excellent. I am currently working my way through a Stephen King trilogy that started with the book Mr. Mercedes; also very fascinating. Apps, I utilize Instagram and Facebook for my business, and some personal scrolling too. I also use Amazon music and Amazon shopping app (probably way too much, but who doesn’t?)

What do you see as the future of the farming/hemp industry?

I see the regulations coming down from the FDA being hurtful to the farmer as they are currently written. My state of Tennessee has opted to continue under the rules of 2019 for the year 2020, and this has eased tensions on farmers throughout the state. However, there is still the question of what the future will hold. I look forward to some regulations for standardization practices. This will allow reputable companies to continue to flourish and bad actors to be phased out.

Advice for Newbies: Research Before Getting Started

If you were to give any piece of advice to someone looking to grow hemp, what would you say?

Research, talk to anyone you know that is currently in the hemp space, and reach out through email to companies for assistance/guidance. Information is power, the more you have at your disposal, the more prepared you will be to overcome obstacles. I researched for probably 100 hours before I started my venture, I also discussed for hours with people whom I knew that grew last season, and I partnered with farmers that had successful crops last season. The insight gained from discussing with the experienced farmers was invaluable. Also, start your business for the right reasons, and do not start if you are thinking you will get rich quick.