It’s been dubbed ‘the green rush’
An avalanche of cannabidiol (CBD) related businesses has hit the scene, triggered by the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp, a low-THC, potentially high-CBD variety of cannabis. A recent report by BDS Analytics projects that the collective market for CBD sales in the U.S. will surpass $20 billion by 2024.
In 2016, fewer than 10,000 acres of hemp were grown nationwide; in 2017, nearly 26,000 acres were farmed. But with the proliferation of new farmers and an explosion of CBD products on the market—ranging from tinctures to infused water to mascara—there’s no official system in place to regulate quality, efficacy and sourcing. And since most CBD suppliers don’t reveal their source or provide lab info on the cannabidiol and pesticide levels in their product, consumers and brands are mostly in the dark about a product’s purity and potency. Until now.
“At Garden Om, our mission is to create the best possible CBD product—and a sustainable system that is good for farmers, business, humans, and the planet,” says founder and master grower Joe Jernegan. “This is the purest hemp extract available on the market.”
Jernegan began his career 25 years ago, working at a massive cattle, chicken and pig farm in Arkansas. “It’s not the kind of farming I do now,” he says. “It was a big lesson in what I didn’t want to do—it was pretty disgusting. That first job is a big reason I have the attitude I do now.” After working on farms in the Northwest, he settled in Steamboat Springs, Colorado with his family and started a supply store for local growers and dispensaries.
After nearly a decade of development, Jerengan created the Two Beards™ hemp strain. The crop grows more aggressively, is pest- and disease- resistant and flowers in a shorter amount of time compared to other varieties. But Jerengan isn’t stopping there: He’s constantly improving Garden Om’s Difference hemp strains and is breeding new cultivars for specific commercial applications.
Garden Om’s Two Beards™ strain is grown exclusively by small batch farmers across six states. These artisanal family farms—ranging from a women-owned operation to a former veteran turned grower—have all gone through a rigorous vetting process to ensure that the crop is grown using 100% organic and sustainable methods. Farmers plant around 2 or 3 acres of hemp.
At the end of each growing season, Garden Om buys back the crop at double the market rate. “Our thinking is, we can pay farmers that much for a quality product and still make money,” says Jernegan. “We pay farmers more because they deserve more. We support the local community and American farmers. And we know we’re getting consistency.”
Up until the recent changes in cannabis law, farming has waned in popularity over the past 30 years. “Now, people want to farm again,” he says. “There’s this tidal wave of interest. And if there is ever going to be a time where the small farming model can make a comeback, this is it.”
Jernegan mails Two Beards™ clippings to farmers before growing season and walks them through the process of planting. Throughout the year, he works directly with farmers—via phone, text, DM and series of weekly YouTube videos—to ensure that the crop is grown correctly. “It is unusual for a company to be so hands-on,” Jernegan says. “But for us, it works. And it’s how we separate ourselves from the competition.”
Farmers hand harvest and dry the crop, then cure the plant out of the sun to preserve a high level of CBD while limiting the production of THC, the compound that gets people “high”. Farmers then send the crop to Garden Om for processing.
This technique doesn’t use toxic solvents, creating a pure product. “It’s a super-clean way to process the oil,” says Jernegan. “Most companies use solvents in the extraction process that leaves a residue. And then people end up ingesting that residue when they use the product.”