In 2018, Stewart, a mineral dealer from a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts was introduced to a few hemp farmers in Colorado. How THAT happened is a story for another day. If you’re lucky, maybe we’ll tell it to you some time. For now all that matters is that Stewart found himself in La Junta, CO on March 1, 2019 with a woman named Sherry he’d met in December of 2018. Stewart had no experience and little knowledge about hemp, or even farming in general. What he had (what’s he’s always had) is grit. Who knows what interested him in this particular adventure. Lord knows there had been plenty before. Maybe it was the lure of a new challenge, or maybe he just wanted something different. Either way, he was in. And he had ideas. He helped put together the right team of people in the right areas of the hemp farming industry, and together they had a goal of growing on 50 acres of rich Colorado soil.
While attending a hemp convention in Denver, the group was introduced to a clone producer in the area. His farm turned out to be much better equipped to handle a grow later in the season than Sherry’s farm was It was decided that this new farm would be the direction Stewart would be heading.
Soon thereafter, Stewart was late to the party. Literally speaking, he ended up being very late to a close friend’s birthday party. As he explained that* conference calls regarding his latest endeavors were to blame for his tardiness, his friends Claudia and Pandian became deeply intrigued by the opportunity Stewart was describing. They had been investing in marijuana, hemp, and CBD stocks and were very interested in becoming involved in this project, should that become a possibility.
As Stewart gained knowledge and experience within the hemp industry, he saw a place for his dear friends Claudia and Pandian, and they were able to invest in the new 50 acre grow. With his vision coming together, Stewart was excited about the possibilities that lay ahead, and he enjoyed his shared learning experience with those around him.
One of the people Stewart was relying on for advice and information was a molecular biologist named Jon Hailey. The two had met in their home state of Massachusetts through other business dealings, and over time had developed an easy rapport. Stewart was impressed with Jon’s background as an amateur grower and his dedication to his family members’ health issues. By using hemp and its natural healing properties creatively, Jon was able to create specialized CBD products which made a huge difference for his loved ones. What impressed Stewart most, though, was the effect Jon’s CBD had on him, personally. Stewart had tried many other CBD products and felt little effect. The other products essentially made no difference, but when Stewart tried Jon’s particular blend, he was amazed by the results. He sent Jon some raw hemp oils and the results were magic. Stewart knew he needed to partner with Jon in the future.
Stewart began to share Jon’s “secret recipe” with his own friends and family. With each balm and tincture provided, the feedback was the same: Jon’s product worked, even when other brands had not. The concept of Truly Hempful began to take root.
One day as Stewart was explaining about Jon and his marvelous concoctions to a childhood friend named Billy, something dawned on him. Perhaps Jon could create something for one of Billy’s relatives who was struggling with a couple of health issues. Jon created a tincture geared toward those specific issues, and Billy’s family member responded very positively.
By now Stewart had taken over operations at the hemp farm due to a series of unexpected events. Claudia, Pandian and Jon had formed a business relationship and were in talks to introduce a CBD line to the market. When Billy heard about this, he was interested in joining the venture. He would eventually fund the start of the Totally Hempful product line, buying all necessary lab equipment and bottles and labels. This crew of five became the “OG” hempsters at Totally Hempful. The journey had really just begun!
Back in Colorado, Stewart and his team had learned some valuable lessons. Through an almost “comedy of errors,” or rather “trials and errors,” Stewart discovered ways to ensure his crop did not become non-compliant in its THC content (>0.03%). He was able to succeed where others had not, due in part to his diligence in educating himself, and partly due to his commitment to find a way, even in his partial ignorance.
Even though the team had stumbled upon a lot of the right answers, they also had their share of difficulties. One particular challenge they faced turned out to be just what they needed to motivate them back to Massachusetts. When an investor approached the team and informed them he didn’t have the money he’d promised, he offered instead to give the fledgling company thousands of quality seeds and clones. Stewart wondered if these could be sold, so he approached Jon and was informed that a woman who worked for him, Mary Ann, had a family farm nearby in Berkley, Massachusetts. Perhaps they could grow the plants themselves! Liking the idea of having everything local, Stewart agreed to meet Jon’s new friend.
Things went well, and Mary Ann’s family welcomed the idea of farming hemp. In an amazing twist of fate, the Rapoza family had already recently taken a serious look at hemp farming on their own – stopping just short of obtaining a license. They had even attended all the meetings offered by the state! It looked like destiny had called Totally Hempful to a permanent home, and things were really coming together seamlessly.
Jon, Stewart, Claudia, Pandian, and Maryann, along with the rest of the Rapozas, met at their farm in Berkley, MA, and after several hours together it was clear they were in overall basic agreement about how they wanted to handle the growing of the hemp and the general operations of the farm. And just like that – Totally Hempful Farming was born!
Claudia, Pandian, and Stewart had learned a lot in their adventures thus far, and were determined not to make the same mistakes. Although the farm was over a hundred acres, they would start with a small outside grow, consisting of 7 acres and a 3500 sq.ft greenhouse to house the plants they had been given.
As they pondered the steps they would need to take, they had to consider the different strains of hemp they were growing, as well as the various grow methods, hydroponics, and soil. There was also the fact that during harvest it became difficult to secure a lab to oversee the biomass because labs are frequently overwhelmed.
It slowly dawned on the team that if they could create and manage their own lab, they could have more control over the later stages of CBD production. Their dream became creating a transparent and interactive farm, complete with an extraction lab and hydroponics room with observation windows for people to be able to see the different grow types and learn how oils are extracted and CBD products are made. They also desired to build a total of 11,000 square feet of indoor grow houses in order to grow using various methods, as well as space for craft smokable flower. They quickly realized the animals of the farm should be another aspect of the interactive farming and educational experience. They knew they would need some support, not just financially, but with expertise. They began to look for like-minded individuals that wanted to be involved in building something unique in Massachusetts.
Enter Ben Johnson, who brought with him not only start up experience and business expertise, but also much needed capital. Ben has previously built a successful major yogurt chain from the ground up, and was excited at the prospect of getting hands on with such a truly unique idea.
Now, as the team and the company both grow (quite literally), soon the farm will be up and running – and ready for visitors! We are managing the grand opening in the face of the Covid 19 pandemic, so there have been delays we didn’t expect, but we won’t let it stop us. Stay tuned and keep up with our website for more details, more stories, and more people (and animals) to love!
We can’t wait for you to COME GROW WITH US!