With a mission in mind, CBD and wellness company Burnt Meadow Hemp is working to create a farm-to-table experience for consumers.
Sitting on 250 acres in Fowler, Colo., Burnt Meadow Hemp is a “full functioning farm,” says Sulee Clay, CEO of Burnt Meadow Hemp and chair of the corporate group and managing partner at Mckennon Shelton & Henn LLP law firm in Washington D.C. The company grows a blend of CBD- and CBG-dominant varieties on roughly 55 irrigated acres, Clay says, adding that it also produces other crops, like alfalfa.
“We grow for extraction, but for our product purposes, we do infusion method, whole plant, trying to be as close to what is coming out of the ground as possible in terms of our ingredients,” she says.
The company grew 40 acres of hemp in its first growing season in 2018 and had a successful harvest that year, Clay says. However, the following two years were challenging, as the farm got almost completely wiped out from weather-related disasters.
“Right when we were about to harvest 10-foot tall plants, the first year, we got a ton of ice. Everything froze; it went down to 3 degrees for three days,” she says. “The second year, a bunch of heavy snow was dumped on everything, and everything got demolished. That was quite a setback. … As much hard work as it is to actually farm hemp, especially if you don’t have very large equipment, we started thinking, ‘Is this really the best use of our time?’”
From there, Clay says the company pivoted its focus to product development and created a line of CBD wellness products.
Shortly after, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., taking away in-person experiences and causing many businesses to pivot operations quickly.
“That was a whole other life-altering event,” Clay says. “The farm became this great place of refuge; we have 250 acres in the middle of nowhere. So, you didn’t have to walk around with a mask or worry about someone breathing in your face. It was so peaceful compared to the chaos everywhere else. It really got us thinking about wellness in a more holistic aspect. … We started thinking about our farm as a place of refuge and a place of travel.”
Clay says she and Wesley Frazier, generational farmer and cultivator and chief operations officer at Burnt Meadow Hemp, envisioned turning their farm into a tourism destination.
Clay describes the vision as a “farm-to-table” experience, where individuals can come to themed events, stay overnight in an RV or tiny home on the property, travel to nearby places, and indulge in food grown on the farm. Event hosts can also request to have their meals infused with hemp, Clay says.
The company is currently planning 10 themed weekend events throughout the harvest season, which will involve an entire travel package for consumers.
“Our farm is just one piece of it,” Clay says. “You’ll end up having a dinner and a brunch at our farm. But other than that, you’ll have an opportunity to go to the Garden of the Gods [Visitor & Nature Center in Colorado Springs]. And at your choice, you can go to Royal Gorge [Route Railroad in Cañon City], ride the train, or go to Pikes Peak [Cog Railway in Manitou Springs], which is all kind of nearby. We would arrange transportation and food.”
Clay says that the company plans to market its travel offerings through its social media channels to individuals in and outside of the U.S. “We are also partnering with a travel agency to design and market our travel packages,” she adds.
Frazier says he did a run-through last year of what the process would like.
“I had about 15 people who flew from [the] Chicago … area. They were able to come, I gave them a tour of the farm, and they were able to actually help me do a little bit of harvesting,” he says. “I actually have a lot of people who are very interested in coming and volunteering because they just want to learn about agricultural sciences and have experience with their family and friends.”
Next to the farm is a 190-acre pasture (a plot of land used to feed livestock), which Burnt Meadow Hemp plans to use for RV camping and eventually build out tiny vacation homes where individuals can stay when they visit.
“We are in discussions with a company that finances and manages tiny home vacation communities across the globe,” Clay says.
Burnt Meadow Hemp is also making the transition to “Burnt Meadow Wellness,” Frazier says.
“Part of that is because we realize that 80% of our customers are women. … They’re the caregivers, the entry point to the home. … So, we want to feature all of the things that we have as a holistic approach,” he says. “Sometimes people are still a little bit hesitant [to] have cannabis … and so, what we are hoping is that as they see the wellness aspect and they see all of the other things that we’re doing.”
The company also puts social equity at the forefront and recently launched a nonprofit organization in Colorado called “Farming is Therapeutic.”
“It is our goal to do this on a charitable basis to bring the inner-city youth out to the farm … [to] teach them about farming, sustainable practices, but also, [allow them] to just get away for [a] mental health break,” Clay says.
With all these new projects in process, the company is excited about the future and will continue to prioritize social equity, wellness, and product development.
“We are excited about our products and expanding into a full spectrum brand that harnesses the power of all the cannabinoids in ratios that will allow our customers to tailor their experiences and outcomes,” Clay says. “We are also excited to develop and curate our cannabis-friendly farm-to-table experience.”
<aside class=”clearfix”><h3> What advice do you have for other farmers to succeed in this space?</h3> <p>
Never plant anything unless you know who you are selling it to.Access and learn from your local farming extension school resources since they will provide geography-specific recommendations. This will help you understand your local weeds and pests, among other things.Collaborate with other farmers, especially your neighbors.Make sure you have water rights (get a lawyer).</aside>