A Personal Journey Visiting Farmers in Maine
Blog Post by Ed Mahoney
When Artistic Organics decided to embrace the CBD industry, we knew from the very beginning that we wanted to do something special. Our goal was to make a positive impact on people’s health and educate at the consumer level far beyond what we’ve found in the current market. There is so much not known in the industry, and even more so, a tremendous amount of misinformation. This can be counterproductive in an exploding industry where many people look to the internet for answers.
We have always thought that research should begin at the source of our products. It’s one of the best ways to understand the plant and know directly where our products come from. American hemp farmers are probably one of the most educated sources on hemp around. Their knowledge of everything from seeds and soil to watering and flowering comes from generations of farmers. Therefore, when we decided to start touring farms around the country, you can imagine the excitement I felt with the opportunity to rub elbows with the true cultivators of our industry.
Historically, you will hear about farms in Oregon, California, and Colorado the most. In fact, this is where some of the most popular CBD products come from. However, since I was from the New England area, I wanted to see if there were any secrets out in my old kicking grounds that I could uncover. I knew both Massachusetts and Maine had recently gone Medicinal and Recreational on the Marijuana side of the business, and therefore, I felt it would be credible to think that some of the oldest farming areas in our country would be a good resource for growing hemp.
As I started looking into farms, I wanted to be sure I kept our business criteria in place. If you didn’t already know, Artistic Organics goes through a very extensive process when researching CBD products. First and foremost, the supplier MUST have in-depth, credible COA (Certificate of Analysis)..aka Labs. This is the litmus test to ensure you get what is advertised in the bottle. We look for CBD levels, THC levels, other cannabinoids levels, terpene profiles, and residual levels. If any one of these fails… it fails our requirements and we move on. Other criteria include:
- Sustainability in the farm
- Extraction process
- Utilizing a single strain, or strain blend consistently
- Organic or equally proven methods of farming that exceed USDA and FDA requirements
- Ability to supply us without any disruptions
- + approx. 10 additional criteria. (too many to list!)
Applying Artistic Organics’s criteria I was able to visit places on the East Coast and specifically Maine. Let me share with you my experience….
Driving up to a Maine farm was much like everything Maine. You pass the old bridge, drive until you see the tractor, turn left and follow until you can’t go any further. I love that about Maine and it didn’t disappoint. I will admit, as I looked around, I was surprised to see the variations of elevations on the plot of land. There were also a lot of trees, rocks and natural growth abound. Far from the Texas flatlands I am so used to. It resonated with how the early farmers of America may have grown crops, which was very intriguing.
I walked among the rows of young hemp plants that varied in strain. Mostly Lifter and Berry Blossom, which has a very pleasing smell when you rub the stalks. These farmers went into great detail about the irrigation system which was part man-made, like most farms, but also utilized the topography of their land. It was quite ingenious actually. Soil in Maine typically has a high pH which results in an iron deficiency. Farmers manage this through a multi-layered soil approach that helps release nitrogen slowly into their soil which results in a more sustainable foundation for younger crops. Considering the younger plants looked absolutely amazing is a clear result of this process.
Ultimately, this particular farm’s goal is to create a completely closed-loop farm so their dependence on outside products will be minimal at best. This is what I really wanted to see in person. A passion for hemp farming at its best is reflected in these farmers.
In my experience, I’ve seen farms with hundreds of acres and thousands of plants. Those farms are an amazing feat in itself. But where they exceed in quantity, they tend to lose in craftsmanship. Note that I am not really dissing the big guys on quality … because frankly some of them put out a great product. But simply a culture lacking of what I call…. “Planting with intent.” This culture is demonstrated by utilizing nature’s resources to help the farm thrive. Think of it as big-name beer vs craft brew. Don’t get me wrong, I like big-name beers just as much as the next guy. But when I want something more…. Something with “bite” and “depth”… I go craft. This is the same for me with hemp. It’s interesting to compare the same strain such as Berry Blossom from a huge farm vs. a small craft farm. It tastes and smells much more complex coming from a small, “craft” farm. Even the COA’s look incredibly different. This is something I felt was a huge difference in the quality of the final product.
My experience and what I learned in Maine was nothing short of extraordinary. The farmers plant with care and focus on producing the best quality, natural product possible. They opened their fields and farms to me and the education and experience allowed me to bring this knowledge back to you and all of our clients.
–Ed Mahoney for Artistic Organics