BUCKHANNON — With hemp farming on the rise, many questions and a lot of confusion surround the subject. As a result, quite a few locals are quickly becoming experts on the topic and are happily educating others on the countless uses of hemp and how its cultivation and processing will benefit consumers, as well as West Virginia’s economy. Jason and Jamie Queen are two of those local people who are eager to pave the way for Upshur County to gain its share of this rapidly growing market.
The Queens are very excited to announce that they will be opening their cutting-edge business venture, New Harvest Botanicals, LLC (NHB) later this summer. NHB will be one of the very few industrial hemp processing facilities in the entire state and thanks to them, it’s coming to Upshur County. In addition to their processing facility, they are also launching New Harvest Farms for their own hemp production this year. Their entrepreneurial mindset and business expertise will definitely be an asset to other local farmers.
According to the Queens, Buckhannon has actually become a hub of this current movement. They feel that a lack of education about hemp contributes to an inaccurate stigma and stereotype of the industry, which they are working hard to overcome. Area farmers have an exciting opportunity to get involved and NHB says they are committed to helping them.
Hemp can be a very profitable crop when grown properly and managed responsibly. NHB will be contracting with interested farmers to purchase their hemp for the upcoming harvest. A new round of permitting will occur again in the fall, allowing additional farmers to prepare and take advantage of the next growing season in 2020. NHB hopes to be involved with educating, encouraging and assisting farmers in bringing the hemp industry to the top of the agriculture field in West Virginia.
It is essential to know that hemp is not marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants, but what makes them distinctly different is the presence or absence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the plant’s intended purpose. THC is the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana, but to be considered hemp, the plants must only contain .3% THC or less. In layman’s terms, THC is what gets you high, and hemp simply does not do that.
Hemp is the strongest natural fiber in the world and the hemp plant is said to be a miracle of sorts, with over 25,000 reported uses. Clothing, building materials, food, paper, animal feed, organic compost, and medicinal benefits are only a handful of the ways that hemp can be utilized to help people and animals.
There are also two different types of hemp, with one being grown for the purpose of its fibers to be used industrially in things like concrete and building materials, while the other type is primarily grown for cannabidiol (CBD) oil. New Harvest Farms and Botanicals will primarily focus on the production and processing of hemp for CBD oil. CBD users boast claims of its ability to treat a multitude of ailments ranging from depression and anxiety to epilepsy, effectively alleviating pain without intoxication and even improved mobility. NHB will be utilizing CO2 extraction methods to process hemp, as well as hops, lavender, and other botanicals eventually, by using super critical and/or sub-critical parameters to obtain a superb, high-quality end product for their clients.
Staying compliant with the newly passed 2018 Farm bill, NHB will concentrate on the up and coming industrial hemp market to produce full spectrum cannabidiol (CBD), distillate and isolate that can be used for medical, pet and even beauty markets. Hemp is environmentally friendly in every way and progressive in its details. Even though many of the benefits of hemp have been known for centuries, we are just now starting to realize its potential in our modern-day world. NHB will be concentrating on producing CBD oil for now, while also preparing to jump into new industrial hemp markets as they arise.
As a vertically integrated, multi-million-dollar business, NHB will be involved in all aspects of the process. With a “seed to sale” mentality, New Harvest Farms and Botanicals will be growing the plant on their own 130-acre farm, purchasing hemp strictly from West Virginia farmers, drying the biomass with state-of-the-art equipment, and finally extracting the oils, terpenes and other cannabidiol elements from the plant. That product will then be sold to clients interested in crude oil or winterized product.
With nearly 12,000 sq. ft. of drying and storage space, NHB can handle tens of thousands of plants that need dried and stored properly, while waiting to be used in the extraction process. With an additional 2,800 sq. ft. of operating space at another location, NHB will operate its extraction machines and house an ultra-modern winterization lab while planning for a chromatography space in the near future. The business plans to employ several local people including their chemist, who is a recent West Virginia Wesleyan graduate. She will head the extraction process, along with being the lead technician in the winterization lab.
The 2018 Farm Bill passage is literally the dawn of a new era, but West Virginia still needs a lot of infrastructure and education to get up to speed with what is already happening in other states. There is a lot of work ahead, but hemp farming promises to provide a very exciting future, from its production to processing, for those who want to be a part of that community.