392. From Dairy To Hemp Transition Farming | Sam Bellavance | Sunset Lake CBD | Vermont

Sam’s website: Sunset Lake CBD

Links Mentioned:

Arbico Organics

University of Vermont

Cornell University

Unedited transcript:

Okay, how is that? Okay. How does that sound now? Jackie?

6s

JackieMarie Beyer

It sounds loud and clear. Can you hear me okay?

10s

Sam Bellavance

Yep. I can hear you. Great. And yeah, my last name is Bella Vance.

14s

JackieMarie Beyer

Okay. And you went, did you get my email about the coffee? I was just curious, like, how do I use that coffee?

22s

Sam Bellavance

I did. Yeah, you grind it and just grind it and put it through like a French press or Italian press slow drip the same way. You’d do any other coffee. Oh, okay.

35s

JackieMarie Beyer

Okay. All right, here we go. Yup. Welcome to the green organic garden podcast. It is Tuesday, July 20th, 2021. And I have an awesome guest on the wine from sunset sunset lake CBD. Here is Sam Bella vans to share his journey, their business, and just all the cool things that are going on in 2021. So welcome to the show, Sam.

1m 5s

Sam Bellavance

Thanks for having me, Jackie. I really appreciate it.

1m 9s

JackieMarie Beyer

Well, I’m excited to share your business and your story and just everything you guys have going on. So go ahead and tell listeners a little bit about yourself. You guys are in Vermont. Are you in, you said up by you, the university of UVM Burlington, is that right? Yeah.

1m 28s

Sam Bellavance

Yeah. We’re about 30 minutes outside of Burlington in the Champlain islands. So lake Champlain, which is the border between Vermont and New York, our farms located on some of the islands between there. So it’s very scenic and we’re only about 30 minutes from Canada. So we’re at a pretty, pretty high latitude and we’re so my background is in dairy farming. My family is one of the main producers for Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. So that’s kind of my introduction to farming was working at the dairy, you know, throughout my childhood and into my adulthood.

2m 9s

Sam Bellavance

And in 2018, we decided to diversify the dairy farm a little bit. And originally we tried growing hops that didn’t work out and then we decided to grow hemp and that’s been a big success. So that’s one of the things I can talk about today is just that transition as a farmer from dairy to hemp, some of the things that were the same, some of the things that were different and just kind of how adding some more crops to our farm was a big key to our success.

2m 42s

JackieMarie Beyer

Well, let’s just go right there. Go ahead and keep telling us that story.

2m 46s

Sam Bellavance

Yeah. So I think for us at the dairy level, and I’m sure some of your listeners, if they’re familiar with dairy farming themselves or friends, it’s always been a very, very hard way to make a dollar. It’s a lot of work. You’re milking cows, you know, 365 days a year, you know, even Christmas morning, those cows have to get mailed. And it’s just a wild amount of work for quite little money, just given the fact that, you know, with dairy farming, you’re so subject to commodity prices. And, you know, if there’s a big supply glut, then prices get driven way down and every now and then they go up and then every farmer gets more cows and the cycle kind of repeats.

3m 34s

Sam Bellavance

So one of the things for me growing up there was kind of looking, okay, dairy is such a roller coaster, but Ben and Jerry’s, who’s actually making the ice cream. They seem to be doing well and growing every year and kind of making that connection in my head. Okay. Part of the reason they’re successful is because they’re not just selling this commodity, they’re actually taking, taking the milk, creating a product with a brand and an identity, really focusing on quality, focusing on good sourcing and expanding throughout the world. So kind of my idea was why don’t we try to do something similar to what Ben and Jerry’s has done with milk with our hemp.

4m 21s

Sam Bellavance

And that’s kind of how sunset like CBD was born. All of our products are actually made with hemp. We grow on our farm. So it’s all single source and we’ve been able to ship air to every state in the country, Puerto Rico, even some military bases overseas. So we’ve, we’ve definitely grown quite a bit out of our Humboldt Vermont origins.

4m 45s

JackieMarie Beyer

Ah, there’s so much about this. I love Sam, especially. I feel like you’re probably giving a lot of my listeners hope like this huge sense of hope that maybe they can make a successful business out of something that they love and something that they want to do and something that’s good for our planet, you know, because the story of like farmers have struggled for so much and your turning, you know, flipping that and also doing it. Like I love the premium product that you’re providing and that it’s a quality and that you’re seeing how and looking at what Ben and Jerry’s did.

5m 25s

JackieMarie Beyer

So I’m curious, like what happened with the hops? Why didn’t that work? Was it like your climate or like the market or like what what’s making the hemp successful that the hops wasn’t successful?

5m 39s

Sam Bellavance

Well, I, I think anyone who’s being honest would tell you that success is born of lots of failures and the hops kind of took it on the chin. And a lot of the failures that I made with the hops were tough lessons that I learned and then use those to make the, have more successful. So for example, with the hops, we were like, okay, we’re just going to get these varieties that grow really, really well in Eastern and Southern Oregon, where it’s extremely dry and we’re going to grow these varieties in Vermont. Well, the thing is, our climate here is completely different.

6m 21s

Sam Bellavance

It’s much wetter, much more humid. And so our hop was just, we’re constantly battling all kinds of mildew and fungus. And, you know, with our hand, we are much more selective about what kind of varieties we want to get creating spacing that allowed airflow to get through there, even using types of beneficial bacteria to combat the fungus. So that was something where it kind of hit us on the head with the hops, but having that kind of tragic experience is what motivated us to do a better job with our hand and your right through the market. Like the, you know, we thought, okay, we’re going to grow these hops.

7m 3s

Sam Bellavance

And some breweries is going to show up and say, Hey, you know, we’ve got a dump truck full of cash. We’re going to buy all your hops from you. Well, it doesn’t work that way. You need to actually get out there and market it. So for our hemp and our CBD products, you know, et cetera, just keeping all the hemp in our garage and waiting for someone to show up. We said, Hey, let’s actually take this to the final stage. You know, make the CBD oil, make the salves, make pre-rolls make all of these products that we can then market ourselves. So those were tough lessons, but I’m sure a lot of your listeners know, like you have to, even out of failure, you can draw some pretty good lessons, that’ll help you in the future.

7m 48s

JackieMarie Beyer

Yeah. But there’s something special about you, Sam, that made you figure out how to make those cause like, let me tell you, I have failed over and over. And I still, like, I don’t know. There’s like, I dunno if I’m not putting the right lessons together or like not learning or other ways. I feel like I have moved forward in a lot of ways. So I don’t know. But so it wasn’t necessarily the hops itself. It’s just like the hemp, you you’ve you. And it’s so interesting that like most people think of Oregon as being really a wet, you know, Pacific Northwest, you know, kind of like Seattle rainy all the time.

8m 31s

JackieMarie Beyer

But Eastern Oregon is a very different climate. I guess if it’s more dry, I know a lot of apples are grown in like Northeastern Oregon in south Southern Washington. They’re in that little area, it must be like that kind of climate, that Eastern part. Yeah.

8m 50s

Sam Bellavance

I I’ve only been to Oregon once, but it does seem like whether we start west of the cascades, that’s kind of the big difference. And versus Vermont is so wet and it’s really nice cause we don’t have the water supply issues that a lot of the other country has. And even for us, like what we consider a drought would probably not even be considered a drought and you know, Western or Southwestern us. But, you know, with that comes a lot of challenges, you know, we have special past spectral fungus. And so you take the good with the bad.

9m 31s

JackieMarie Beyer

So another thing is like, you’re a relatively new business in the, in the, you know, grand scheme of things. And, but yet you are being successful, getting out there and marketing and then doing these new products, like have you had some products that you feel like are doing better than other and didn’t you tell me, like when we did our kind of like chat the other day that do you have like 18, tell us about your farm. You did you say you have 18,000 hemp?

10m 1s

Sam Bellavance

We do. Yeah. There’s there’s 18,000 plants in the field right now.

10m 6s

JackieMarie Beyer

How big is your field?

10m 8s

Sam Bellavance

That’s 35 acres. So that’s actually pretty spread out in terms of planting density for hemp. And just one thing, I think that would be really good to clarify for the listeners. I think a lot of people, when they think of hemp, they think of rope in the fiber and making hemp clothing. That’s the same plant, but it’s a different breed. Our breed is grown to produce buds and flowers that are really, really high in CBD and low in THC. Now I’ve also grown hemp that is for fiber and textiles and that’s a much longer skinnier plant.

10m 48s

Sam Bellavance

They’re like 14 feet tall. And with those you’re harvesting the stock, not the flower. So a lot of times when we say hemp, people think of, oh, it’s the fiber, it’s the clothing it’s hempcrete or, oh, it’s CBD. They’re the same plants. They’re just bred for different purposes, which is one of the really cool things about the cannabis plant. As you can do so many unique things with it, you know, it can either be a building material or it can be a supplement for us. We chose to go with the CBD route, just partly because of the hemp fiber industry isn’t as developed in the U S as it is in like Canada or China.

11m 33s

Sam Bellavance

And we don’t necessarily have to do like a full hemp fiber processing, like taking the plants to the point where you can make a t-shirt, you’re going to need millions and millions of dollars to, you know, basically build a factory to do that versus us like harvesting the buds, drying them, extracting the oil. It is very time expense. It takes a lot of time and it does take money, but it’s not at that scale. You know, these are things we can do in a, in a small little warehouse. So for us, the most popular product has been, you know, the CBD oil and the gummy bears, which are primarily used by people before bed to help with falling asleep.

12m 19s

Sam Bellavance

And then they’re also used just for like general anxiety, calmness CBD. What’s really nice about it is you get that relaxing feel that you would get from smoking marijuana, but you’re not getting the psychoactive high. So you’re much more functional. So it’s a really nice supplement for people who want to relax, but don’t want to, you know, be stoned. So for us to shipping these products, because they’re small, we’ve been able to market them all online, sunset like cbd.com and that’s been cool to just mail them all over the country from our farm.

13m 4s

JackieMarie Beyer

So it’s sunset, sunset lake CBD, S U N S E T L a K E cbd.com. And they can order them anywhere. And I, you sent me a sample package that I just got last night. And I’m so excited. Like I was telling you in the pre-check I love the lotion already. Like I put that on before I even finished. I even love like the paper it was wrapped in. I like unfolded all the paper and I’m like, I’m going to sketch on this paper. So that was also like, super cool about it because it didn’t come with like all these super plastic, you know, things that I’m like, oh, what do I do with these or popcorn things?

13m 44s

JackieMarie Beyer

Like I was like, I’m going to take this paper and draw sketches down in the garden. Cause it’s really pretty paper. We’ll go, go with colored pencils or like a pastel chalk type of thing or something.

13m 54s

Sam Bellavance

You know, Jack, I have a story about that paper. If you want to hear it, I would love to hear that. So that was a big lesson for us as learning from our customers, which I think is a really big thing. If, if anyone, whether it’s farming or any type of small business, if you want to be successful, you have to take feedback. And we had a customer early on, cause we were packing everything in packing peanuts and they said, Hey, you know, if you want to talk about sustainable agriculture and you know, being sustainable, how about you? Don’t fill up all your boxes with packing peanuts and your shipping, our products. And we were like, oh, that’s a really, really good point. So then we switched to just using that recycled craft paper, which is much, much easier to recycle and it’s actually made from post-consumer paper.

14m 43s

Sam Bellavance

And, and so that was just a lesson of like being humble and being able to take a lesson

14m 49s

JackieMarie Beyer

And none of the bottles were cracked or broken and the other, but the other thing I loved about it was like they were actual square rectangles that I could reuse. They weren’t like ripped up paper that I would never be able to reuse again. And so, like I said, I like folded them out neatly and I’m like, I’m going to draw on these because it’s just, it’s just a nice quality from an artist’s perspective. It’s a nice quality paper. And, and that is true. Like that’s part of why I mute my mic because I’ve gotten so many reviews that say the host just never stops talking. And so I’ve been trying so much harder this year, not to talk as much, which is weird because I’ve spent more time in my garden.

15m 32s

JackieMarie Beyer

I feel like I have more to say because I can actually talk about what the person, like what I, cause when I first started by podcast, I didn’t really garden at all. And then this year, especially after the pandemic, I’ve really been gardening. Plus I even started this little like business this summer called local organic lawn care where I thought I was going to go mow people’s lawns. But instead they’re like, oh, can you weed eat my flower beds? Or can you actually, the biggest job I got was like planting this woman’s greenhouse and landscape. I’m like, your greenhouse is way over my GreenSky, you know, I don’t know what to do in there, but her landscape on the other side, I I’ve never felt so confident like in telling her what the, the things to do.

16m 16s

JackieMarie Beyer

Probably because Mike and I have been building ours for 20 something years. Anyway, Mike’s giving me the signal. You’re talking too much again. So back to you, Sam. So tell us like, so how did you figure out what varieties grew better in Vermont? And then what was I, I was going to ask you something about explaining about the different, cause one thing I did read this statistic the other day about cotton actually uses like an incredible amount of water to grow a t-shirt like the amount of water and to grow a t-shirt as compared to like grow a watermelon is like 1500 gallons compared to like two gallons to grow the watermelon or something.

17m 9s

JackieMarie Beyer

And I was just like, oh my goodness. And I know hemp doesn’t need as much water to grow. So it’s put me back on the, we want to find out more about growing hemp for textiles and fiber, but

17m 23s

Sam Bellavance

Yeah. And that’s something various about as well, but I just want to make clear, like that’s not what we’re doing. So when someone says they’re growing Pam, that could mean a lot of different things. It could mean growing hemp for textiles. It could mean making hempcrete with those. You’re using the stock of a plant and you’re actually using two different parts of the stock, the herd and the bast versus for us, we’re focusing more on the flowers, which if you think of like traditional cannabis, marijuana, what people are smoking are the flowers of the plants.

18m 3s

Sam Bellavance

Cause that’s where the THC is in our case. That’s where the CBD is. So that’s the part we’re targeting. And for us,

18m 12s

JackieMarie Beyer

I did want to know about that. Like is the CBD in the leaves and the stock and everywhere, or it’s only in the budge flat,

18m 20s

Sam Bellavance

Very, very small amounts of it on the leaves. There’s almost none on the stocks and the vast majority of it is in the buttocks. So that’s the part that we want to harvest.

18m 34s

JackieMarie Beyer

And is there like, cause I know like I’ve talked to some mirror girl on a growers here in Montana, especially since in January, we legalized it for recreational use here in Montana. And it just seems like the first two weeks, our phone was ringing off the hook. And I was like, I don’t know what to tell you. And people were asking all about like, how do we grow this? How do we sell this? What do we do now? But, and then they’re already changing regulations and crazy stuff here in Montana. Like it went from like, if you have a medical marijuana card, you can grow four plants to no, you can only grow two plants if you don’t have it for recreational use. But like from what I’ve gathered from the growers is that getting buds is quite, or the flowers is, is quite a challenging process.

19m 24s

JackieMarie Beyer

There’s like the whole, you gotta cover it up thing. And you’ve got to keep them at a certain 86 degree temperature. And like there’s all the are the same challenges with the CBD. And is it as hard to get, you know, everybody talks about weed is so easy to grow. It grows like a weed, but it’s not that in, you were telling me something about what was it? You have to go out and look for the seeds. Cause it’s also like you have to have the feminized.

19m 52s

Sam Bellavance

Yeah. So I would say it’s, it’s easy to grow. And again, whether it’s hemp for CBD or it’s, you know, recreational or medical cannabis to get you high, it’s all the same plant cannabis, sativa or cannabis Endeca. So the characteristics are pretty similar. And for us, what I always say is it’s very easy to grow. It’s hard to harvest and harvest and preserve a quality product. So I could throw some seeds in my backyard and they might grow, but are they going to get seated down?

20m 33s

Sam Bellavance

Are they going to get filled with insects? Are they going to experience mold or mildew? That’s the part that’s much, much more difficult for people. And I think when Vermont, when we first saw the big hemp CBD boom, where there’s 3000 acres in 2018 of hemp planted and I had all these farmers saying, oh, you’re, you’re only planting 12 acres. Well, I’m planting 50, you know, and other farmers said I’m planting a hundred and other plants and they’re all focused on how many acres they’re planting. And really the question is, okay, well, how many acres can you harvest and dry because you can plant a hundred acres.

21m 14s

Sam Bellavance

But if you can only harvest and dry five acres, you’re a five acre farm. You’re not a hundred acre farm. So that’s when I think people got ahead of themselves being like, okay, I’ll just throw these seeds in the ground. They’ll grow. Not really realizing that the harvesting process is incredibly labor intensive. You have to go out there with pruners and cut these buds off. There are machines that do it, but they do a terrible job. And the quality is really poor. So if you want a good product, you’re doing a lot of this by hand and you know, to drive them, you’re hanging them up in a warehouse or a barn or a greenhouse, which is what we use drying them out.

21m 59s

Sam Bellavance

And what you were referencing to is the mail checking. So people don’t know this, the flowers that people consume with marijuana cannabis are from the female plant. That’s really, really important. Male plants. They don’t produce flowers. And what’s really bad is if the male plants, if they pollinate those female flowers, those flowers will fill up with seeds, which first off it makes the CBD and THC levels plummet. So you’re going to get way, way, way less oil from each and every plant. And if you’re selling a smokable flower to like a dispensary, a head shop, no one wants buds that are filled with seeds.

22m 45s

Sam Bellavance

So it’s really important for us to get out and we’ll actually check each and every one of those 18,000 plants, probably three or four times just to make sure that there are no male plants in there.

23m 8s

JackieMarie Beyer

Sorry, my answering machine is going off. Oh, sorry. It’s just going to take a sec for him, but I didn’t want it.

23m 24s

Sam Bellavance

Yeah. We can just wait for a second. That’s fine.

23m 35s

JackieMarie Beyer

I mean, you could talk and I can be my bike. I was going to ask you a question. Like, do you go out and do that four times a day?

23m 42s

Sam Bellavance

No, no. Four times during the growing season.

23m 48s

JackieMarie Beyer

Yeah. And how long is the growing season?

23m 51s

Sam Bellavance

So for us, we will start our plants in greenhouses in little, a one inch, or you can do up to four inch pots. That’s typically between May 10th and May 20th. They’ll hang out in the greenhouses for about three weeks. And then in mid June, we’ll transplant them into the field, which is a lot of fun. I don’t know if any of your listeners have used a veggie transplanter, but you basically are sitting down on the back of this cart with a tray in front of you. And there’s a wheel that’s poking wa poking a hole into the ground, filling it with water and you have to pop the plant out of the tray and then put it in the ground.

24m 36s

Sam Bellavance

It’s kind of a wild ride. And so that’s in mid June, the plants will start flowering,

24m 43s

JackieMarie Beyer

Wait, hold on a sec. You do that for 18,000 plants. Like how many people do you, I mean, how long does it take you in like, do you, I mean, that must take days.

24m 55s

Sam Bellavance

It took, it took four people about a week. So we don’t have a huge, huge crew. We have

25m 7s

JackieMarie Beyer

A crew and I love that.

25m 9s

Sam Bellavance

Yeah, yeah, no, we, we have a crew and that’s, that’s really big. And that’s, you know, part of us do is just like kind of breaking out of that mold of agriculture, where it’s like pay people as little, little as possible, you know, for the kind of the beginning, I wanted to have a really motivated, dedicated team that would, you know, show up when they needed to show up or a card, you know, be good ambassadors of our brand. And part of that is, you know, for our farm workers, we have a minimum wage of 15 bucks an hour, which is definitely quite a bit higher than the standard for, you know, most vegetable pickers in the country.

25m 54s

Sam Bellavance

But because of that, we were able to get some really, really good help to help get us through that season. And the other part of that too, is because the window is so sensitive, like in, it’ll be September 30th and we’ll say, okay, we have five days to harvest these plants for like one specific variety. So we’ll say, okay, we’ve got 2000 plants here. These have to get harvested within the next five days, because if we don’t, they’re going to get moldy and then we can’t harvest them. We can’t sell them. So for us having a team and our harvest teams, usually about 15 people, that’s really, really dedicated and shows up because there’s no margin for error.

26m 44s

Sam Bellavance

If we don’t have enough people, we’re going to lose those plants.

26m 49s

JackieMarie Beyer

So how do you get 15 people that show up just at that, for that one week?

26m 56s

Sam Bellavance

So they’re not there just for that one week, they’re starting, our harvest starts about September 15th and it goes til the end of October cause different varieties. And this is one of the things we learned. And I guess this is really important for any type of vegetable farming, but for hemp, especially you want to pick varieties that ripen at different times. Cause if they all ripen at once, you’re not going to have enough people and you’re not going to have enough drying space to get them harvested. So we have some varieties that are ready to go in September. Some that aren’t ready till the end of October to kind of spread things out throughout the harvest,

27m 37s

JackieMarie Beyer

Like your last frost day, or is that after frost? Cause I know there was a guy who grew this big field of hemp down, like on the road that goes out to the highway by our house. So I’d drive by his big field every day. And September 8th, we got that killer frost last year and his whole crop. I mean the next day you could just see it, like the whole thing changed color. And I don’t know that it definitely like laid down on the ground, but within a couple of days it was down to the ground and he, he said they were able to, cause I did just talk to him recently about it. They were able to send the product he had in the green, the plants in the greenhouse, they sent Colorado and they were able to extract some CBD from it.

28m 22s

JackieMarie Beyer

But all the stuff in the field, he said he saved it and dried it, but he still has, for some reason they weren’t able to sell that. And so he’s not growing the hemp again this year, but like how, what was my question again?

28m 40s

Sam Bellavance

Oh, oh

28m 42s

JackieMarie Beyer

Yeah. You’re a frog. Like when’s your frost date?

28m 45s

Sam Bellavance

It depends for us. It’s usually, you know, mid-October so for us we forefronts. Yeah. We’ll harvest plants after they’ve already seen a frost, the plants, because at that point when we’re harvesting them, they’re already kind of reaching the end of their life cycle anyways. And for us, it’s kind of a tricky thing because we don’t, you know, you wouldn’t want a plant. Okay. It got a heavy frost. We’re going to give it a week, then harvest it. That’s too long. And you’re going to see issues of mold.

29m 26s

Sam Bellavance

You’re going to see pests in there. You know, it’s already starting to die, but if you know, we get a frost and then in the next two days, we get out there and harvest those buds. There’ll be okay. And you actually notice with the hemp plants, when you there’s a really cold night, the flowers will become really dense. And they’ll kind of like pull themselves together as a way of protecting themselves. And so they do have some ability to handle frost. It’s not, it’s not a situation where it’s like the end of the world if we get a frost, but we also want to make sure we’re getting out there and harvesting as quickly as possible.

30m 8s

JackieMarie Beyer

How do you harvest it? You said like you go out by hand, like, do people have bass? Like one thing I’ve been talking to Mike about this year is one of my guests was talking when you harvest food, you’re the basket you put the food in is not allowed to sit in the dirt. Like this was something, a market farmer told me that I was like, really? I had no idea. Like, are there rules about like harvesting hemp like that? And like, what are you guys like? Do you wear like a backpack? Like how do you harvest these? But you said you’re harvesting in my hands.

30m 41s

Sam Bellavance

So you’re out there. You have a 30 gallon, black plastic tote and some crooners and you basically walk up to the plant prune between 12 and 18 inch sections of flowers and then lay those down and tote that tote is then transported to one of our greenhouses, which is a very like hot and dry environment. And we want to get that the second they get cut off the plant, they need to be hanging up drying, you know, within 15 minutes, ideally, you know, 30 minutes maximum because for us, you know, when you cut it, you know, the plants add like 70, 80% moisture.

31m 30s

Sam Bellavance

You need to get it dry down, you know, below 20%, ideally around 10% for it to be stable. So you’re not having issues of mold. So for us, you know, getting them clipped and moved till drying as quickly as possible is important. And you’re right. Some of those like basic sanitary practices, like with our totes, you know, we’d dumped them in a light bleach water solution just to keep them clean, you know, putting them upside down at the end of the day, you know, wanting to keep all of our materials, you know, rubbing the pruners with rubbing alcohol, to keep them clean. You know, we want to keep everything as sanitary as possible

32m 15s

JackieMarie Beyer

Gloves. I am so curious, like how do you even hang them? Do they have long stems or

32m 22s

Sam Bellavance

The flowers, what we do is we hang up trellis netting inside our greenhouses and then those like 12 inch sections of flowers, you can hang those on the trellis netting. So imagine like a fuzzy green wall of a hemp buds kind of floating around in the wind in there, cause the greenhouse is filled with fans. So there’s a lot of, Yeah, yeah. There’s a lot of heat, a lot of air movement to get those dry down as quickly as possible. And that was really the big challenge for farmers was the drawing aspect. And that’s something we put a lot of, you know, and I don’t, I won’t get into all the numbers, but just fearlessness to know, like we put more money and time into setting up our drying than we did into the irrigation, into fertilizing the field because we knew that, you know, there’s nothing worse than growing a really big, beautiful plant and having no way to harvest and process it because then all of your work was in for anything.

33m 29s

Sam Bellavance

So that was kind of our focus. And I think that was definitely one of our keys to success was really planning out and investing in like a good drawing set up.

33m 42s

JackieMarie Beyer

This is so awesome. Sam, you are just full of golden seeds. I know my listeners because that’s true. Like I’ve been talking to people about harvesting, like whether you’re harvesting, you know, sour cherries to make a pie or, you know, apples in the fall or somebody was asking me about my plum tree, what am I going to do with all my plums? Because my plum tree is just like packed with the plums this year. So I’m pretty excited about that. Like what do you do with your heart? Or like, that’s always our child. Like I’m trying to figure out what can I do with all these radishes? We seem to have like a million radishes this year. I’m like, can I be core strata shatter this like horse radish? Does it have to be the horseradish plant? Can I develop some kind of radish?

34m 23s

JackieMarie Beyer

And then like the show here talking about the hemp, although it’s the other kind, because like, I’ve always said, if I was going to make my mom’s always like, oh, Mike should sell his baked goods. I’ll make, if I’m going to take a product to market, it’s going to be my hemp seed oil salad dressing because I make most delicious hemp seed oil salad dressing when I can afford to buy the hemp seed oil, which I know is really good for me. But yeah, it’s that whole processing. How are you going to process it? How are you going to, you know, do that? Like how do you even process your oil? So it’s not made from the seeds, these tinctures, these oils, right?

35m 4s

JackieMarie Beyer

Cause you said that you’re not growing. See you have the female. I get so confused with this whole thing. Like I’m just so baffled. Like how do you leave him? Like plant these 18,000 plants if you’re not planning from a C or where do you get your seeds?

35m 20s

Sam Bellavance

Yeah. So the seeds we get from a couple of companies, most of which are based in Colorado and Oregon. And those you can find if you just Google search, like CBD seed companies, there’s a zillion of them for us. Like,

35m 38s

JackieMarie Beyer

It seems like when the Hempfield PLAs like a few, when I first looked into this two years ago, you could only buy him seeds from these four companies in Canada. You can buy them from Colorado.

35m 49s

Sam Bellavance

Oh yeah. Oh yeah. There’s a bunch of places you can get ’em and for us, you know, really what was the question again? Oh,

35m 59s

JackieMarie Beyer

Sorry. I asked like six questions.

36m 4s

Sam Bellavance

I’m trying to keep track of them all as you throw them at me. Jackie. Maybe we try that one again.

36m 11s

JackieMarie Beyer

I know. And I’m taking notes and I’m trying to like keep the notes and look at my notes and then remember what did I ask him? Lose you.

36m 21s

Sam Bellavance

No, no, no, no.

36m 22s

JackieMarie Beyer

Okay. I think I asked about like, I, you know, I get confused because like you’re growing these feminized, you have people going out there, you’re looking to make sure there’s no seeds, but then like how do you plant a crop in the fall if you don’t plant seeds and how do they make a feminized seed? Like I just, the whole thing confuses me. Sure,

36m 43s

Sam Bellavance

Sure. So yes. So the plants, we’re starting them from seeds and those are feminized seeds that we get from Oregon and Colorado. Those seeds are basically selected to be 99% female as to how they do that. It’s mostly through like seed plant breeding techniques that I am frankly, not an expert on. So you might want to talk to a plant breeder who could get more into detail with that. But like I said, like, we’re still going to go and check all those plants because even if it’s 99% female, well, if you have 18,000 plants, that 1%, you know, you still got some male plants in there, so we’re going to go and check them all anyways.

37m 39s

Sam Bellavance

And at the end of the year, you know, we’re harvesting the flowers and extracting the oil out of them. We do have to bot we don’t save seeds. So we do have to buy seeds each year. Now some of our plants inevitably will have some amount of seeding in them. Those seeds, we wouldn’t want to keep because they’re not genetically stable anymore. So they might either have too much THC in them or they wouldn’t be feminized anymore.

38m 13s

JackieMarie Beyer

And I’ve heard that people like that grow cannabis or marijuana, like they don’t want any seeds anywhere near cause like it can ruin your whole crop really quickly. Right. So 1% of 18,000 would be like 180 and like 180 plants is probably hard to find. Cause it’s not like there 180 and one like row, it’s like one here and one there and like one year and right To what was I gonna say?

38m 58s

JackieMarie Beyer

And how do you, how do you, where did the seeds show up?

39m 5s

Sam Bellavance

Like on the plant?

39m 8s

JackieMarie Beyer

Yeah. I’m thinking of like an apple or like, like a tomato they’re in a fruit. Like how do you know? Even if, because there’s a flower right in the beginning, I mean, does it make a difference? Like when you get the seeds out of it,

39m 26s

Sam Bellavance

They flower, you know, right around mid OD. At that point you can see pretty clearly pods starting to form in the flowers and for ours, you know, all our plants all have seed pods, but when you break them open, they’re just empty because they haven’t been pollinated by the male plants. So that’s really important for us, you know, hemp seed oil, which you were talking about for your salad dressing. That’s a more, that’s a, by-product really of the fiber industry where when they’re growing hemp for making clothing or making hempcrete, those plants will all be seated down and you can harvest quite a bit of seeds from mine.

40m 20s

Sam Bellavance

And it’s a much more like large scale industrial process to get the hemp seed oil. It’s not very similar to CBD farming where we’re more like, I’d say it’s almost more like a vineyard kind of at our level of a process of

40m 40s

JackieMarie Beyer

That’s a good one. That’s a good analogy. So let’s say we were because you’re probably like needing to get to the other stuff. And I told you that this was only going to be 50 something minutes, so

40m 58s

Sam Bellavance

10 minutes.

41m 1s

JackieMarie Beyer

So, but I haven’t been called like getting to the root of things, which is kind of like a lightning round on other podcasts. So like, do you have a least favorite activity to do in your hemp farm or like something that you got to kind of force yourself to get out there and do

41m 19s

Sam Bellavance

Least favorite activity? Probably weed whacking, because it’s very time consuming and it’s very boring and it’s just something that I’ve always wanted to get away from, but I feel it keeps, keeps coming back and

41m 36s

JackieMarie Beyer

Oh yeah, this is what I was just going to ask you. So like, you know, a lot of like people that I’ve been talking to, you talk about like diversity and having like, you know, a lot of these no-till farmers will have like, you know, pollinator crops or we see, are we losing our zoom thing? Like, are you like, sometimes I feel like you’re skipping out and I’m

41m 59s

Sam Bellavance

A little bit,

42m 2s

JackieMarie Beyer

I was asking like, do you get, do you have like any pollinator crop? Like, do you plant any flowers that learn beneficial insects that kind of help? Like what do you do about past?

42m 12s

Sam Bellavance

Yeah, so we cover crop with a red Clover and white Clover and Timothy, and the nice thing. So that cover crop is planted between our rows of hemp. That’s going to be fixing nitrogen basically from when it’s planted in may through harvest that Clover while it’s growing is bringing nitrogen into the soil, which is really important for the hemp. You don’t need pollinators for hemp because it pollinates to the air that being said, we do want to create an environment for beneficial insects. So the flower on the clovers and the Timothy all makes like a really nice environment for ladybugs, which are very helpful for aphids.

42m 60s

Sam Bellavance

Oh, and this is one thing that I definitely want to get into. We identified our first year, the biggest pest for hemp is called the European corn borer. And it’s a moth that lays its eggs on the ham. And then it’s little grub. Larva will punch into the stock and eat its way up the stock. And it does an immense amount of damage to the plants. It doesn’t always killed them, but it will severely weaken them, which is almost just as bad. And for us, we learned, cause we didn’t want to spray, you know, I think a big part of why our brand’s been successful is the pesticide free, you know, doing the cover cropping.

43m 45s

Sam Bellavance

So we were like, let’s use beneficial insects. So what we do is we lay out these parasitic wasps that will then hatch and they attack the eggs of the corn borer. So we’re using these wasps to attack the corn and we’ve seen dramatically fewer incidents of corn board damage since we started using the wasps and we don’t have to spray any, you know, extra chemicals on the plants. So it’s a definitely a win-win and that’s something I’d recommend to any gardener is to check out Arabic organics. They sell beneficial insects and it’s a really good fit for a lot of folks.

44m 27s

JackieMarie Beyer

Awesome. Patty harvester did a whole, like we did, we do this thing called grow live on Saturday mornings where she talked about those parasitic wasps. So as listeners want to like actually see what that looks like. And also the thing that I loved about it was she had this picture and it looked like the wasps were like this bug that you would want to get rid of. But she was like, this is actually the wash doing their job eating. And so if you go watch that YouTube video, it’s really cool because you can see them doing the work. And then also it makes you think, oh, I would have thought, I want to get rid of these wasps were actually, the wasps were eating the aphids and it was anyway.

45m 8s

JackieMarie Beyer

And can you spell it? Is it AI R or what’d you say there? Who organics? Because people ask me all the time, where do I get beneficial insects?

45m 17s

Sam Bellavance

Sure, sure. It’s air Bucko organics are based out of Phoenix, Arizona, a R B I C O organics.

45m 27s

JackieMarie Beyer

All right. Back to the lightening round. So your least favorite is weed whacking. What’s your favorite activity to do on your farm

45m 36s

Sam Bellavance

Harvesting?

45m 42s

JackieMarie Beyer

Well, that was simple. How about, do you have any gardening advice or business advice? Like what’s the best gardening advice or farming advice you’ve ever received?

45m 52s

Sam Bellavance

Ooh, best gardening advice is always be preventative instead of reacting. So trying, getting, getting out ahead of problems and preventing them before they even occur, rather than trying to react to problems, which is not always possible, but it’s a, that’s something I started for

46m 15s

JackieMarie Beyer

And that’s awesome. And at least the teacher, me, I always feel there’s not enough of that in education anyway. Totally different topic. What’s your favorite tool if you had to move and can only take one tool with you, what could you not live without? Okay. Oh, weird. I wonder why we’re having this problem.

46m 44s

Sam Bellavance

Yeah. Keeps going. I can see you’re talking, but I can’t hear anything.

46m 48s

JackieMarie Beyer

Oh really? So I said, what’s your favorite tool? What if you had to move in, if you had to move in, could only take one tool with you. What could you not live without? Did you hear that? Oh, Are you talking? And I’m not,

47m 16s

Sam Bellavance

Oh yeah. Sorry. I couldn’t hear anything. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. Maybe doing it through the chats a better way. My favorite tool would be, oh shoot. Probably probably the transplanter. I just think it’s so cool that you can put that many plants in the ground. I always figure too, if there’s an apocalypse and I can use the transplanter to grow a bunch of veggies for myself. So that’d be my favorite tool. I mean, as far as like resources on the internet.

47m 58s

Sam Bellavance

Oh gosh. I would say air Berko organics. You know, I definitely check out their websites just to see what’s on. I also read, this is something, these are much better answer. I like to constantly check in on what the university of Vermont and university of Cornell, which are like two really big ag schools near me, what they’re doing for research. So I can go on their website. And a lot of the seminars, a lot of their research is all public. So you can get access to really state-of-the-art agricultural research and data.

48m 44s

Sam Bellavance

That’s totally free and totally public. So I, if people have like a land grant university, that’s near them, you should check out what their extension school and what their agricultural school has to offer. Because some of that data is really valuable and it’s totally free.

49m 5s

JackieMarie Beyer

And Cornell is one of the best ones for the whole country and they have a huge bird thing too.

49m 12s

Sam Bellavance

Yeah. They’ve got great stuff.

49m 13s

JackieMarie Beyer

How about a favorite book? Like a, got any reading material you can recommend? Ooh. Or a magazine or anything?

49m 22s

Sam Bellavance

Yeah, I’m trying to think my favorite would be, I, I don’t know. It’s funny. I actually, I hate to admit it. I don’t do a lot of reading because so much of my time is either on a tractor or at the farm or driving around. I spend a lot of time just like listening to podcasts and like doing a

49m 52s

JackieMarie Beyer

Podcast.

49m 53s

Sam Bellavance

Yeah. I’ll dive into audio book. I should. Yeah. I say maybe I like like hardcore history. I like that history podcasts. I don’t really listen to a lot of like farming podcasts just because I get enough of that in my own life. So, I mean, sometimes I like a nice long history of podcasts or something that I can kind of zone out with while I’m on the tractor. I

50m 26s

JackieMarie Beyer

Suddenly saw guy in TV and I was like, wow, he looks totally different than I was expecting. That’s okay. I hardly this, I only listen to farming podcasts anyway. So I know. And in the beginning I hardly listen to any, but okay. Here’s my final question. If there’s one

50m 45s

Sam Bellavance

Change you’d like to see the creator greeting world, what would it be for example, is there a charity organization you’re passionate about or project you’d like to see put into action? Like what do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either locally, nationally, or on a global scale? Oh boy. I would say, gosh, I’d say, and this is going to be a really big answer, but you know, trying to get agricultural, trying to get agriculture divorced from really short-term economic cycles and thinking where I feel like in my experience farming, whether it’s at the dairy or, you know, growing sense that like CBD, I’ve seen a lot of farmers and a lot of companies kind of forced into this mindset of how do I make as much money as possible, as quickly as possible.

51m 50s

Sam Bellavance

And you know, everything about preserving the land, taking care of people in the community, all of that kind of gets thrown by the wayside. So I would say for people to have more of a like hundred year mindset rather than a one-year mindset, I think that would be really big. I think people would take much, much better care of both farm land and the natural ecosystem. If we kind of thought about these things as if they were something that was worth preserving and that, that has a value that you can’t really put a dollar on.

52m 31s

JackieMarie Beyer

Nah, Sam, thank you so much for sharing everything today. And listeners, I don’t know if I mentioned this, but of course he’s a rock star millennial, so, and you can just tell from that answer and we just love all your passion and sharing for us. Tell us that there’s again, how do they get in connect with you or how do they order some CBD gummies and Petra? We didn’t even talk about the picture. Are there any things that you want to talk about that we didn’t talk about before we hang up?

52m 59s

Sam Bellavance

No, we got it all pretty good. I’d say yeah, for me, we’ll like check out our website, sunset lake cbd.com again for us. I think the, the thing that makes us stand out from other CBD companies is all of the CBD in our products is made from him that we grow ourselves. So you’ll full traceability. You know, you’re not, we’re not using weird artificial CBD isolates that are made from some lab that you don’t know, who knows what, where, you know, you go to our website and you know, we’re shipping stuff out from Vermont, from our farm to your door.

53m 41s

Sam Bellavance

So check it out. So you, we’ve got a bunch of different products on there, so there’s something for everyone. So try that out. Sunset lake cbd.com.

53m 52s

JackieMarie Beyer

Thank you so much for sharing with us today. You have a great day.

53m 56s

Sam Bellavance

Cool. Thank you, Jackie. Bye. Okay.

53m 59s

JackieMarie Beyer

I’m shutting the recorder.

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