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Natural Awakenings of the Coastal Carolinas

From Soil to Oil: A Local CBD Evolution

Mar 01, 2020 02:50PM ● By Kyle Stenerson
It’s hard to deny the validity of someone’s life-changing experience. That’s where I found myself when Walt Fletcher, an occasional patron of my roadside farm stand, called one day to shoot an idea by me. He explained his 10-year agonizing journey of decline in health, misdiagnoses,
over-prescription and frustration that ultimately led him to experimenting with CBD.

After some trial and error, Fletcher found relief and was off his many medications and felt like he had his life back. He expressed his desire to help other people in similar situations, but had no intention of learning how to farm. He approached me to see if I’d be willing to help him grow the crop that ultimately would be processed into the product that he found relief in: CBD.

As a young farmer who has seen the ups and downs of a seven-year-old farming business, I know when to be wary of a new and seemingly exciting crop. Hemp to me was a novelty and would probably be a waste of my time and energy with little overall return, but after hearing Walt’s
story, my interest was piqued. One major component of my farming philosophy is to contribute to the health of my family, the people that buy from me and our environment. I had to ask myself then, why not jump at the opportunity to grow an amazing plant that could make an additional impact on people’s health and provide another channel for income for my family? At this point I was operating on a “what have I got to lose” mentality and I agreed to help Walt.

Fast forward a couple of months and we had our first plants in the greenhouse. I studied as much as I could about cannabis because I had no experience growing it. I felt like a studious college kid again, except I wasn’t trying to get a good grade; I was trying to produce top quality hemp. I was having a blast learning all the ways cannabis was different from other crops I’ve grown and felt validated by how much I could apply from my other growing experience. Once we harvested our first crop, we had to figure out where to go next. Walt spent many hours experimenting in the early days by making small-batch CBD oil with tabletop equipment in his home kitchen. We ran the hemp through our process and sent out samples to check for CBD content. We finally had a set of steps that were repeatable and a product that worked. I’ve always been thankful for Walt
in at least one respect; he is the perfect litmus test for our oils. If it didn't work for him, we had to change something.

Walt and I had some decisions to make. We needed to decide where we'd  go from there and see if we could make it work. Out of many conversations and deliberations, Restoration Hemp was born. Our idea was to stay small in the acreage we grew so as to not oversupply our own requirements, but expand enough to be able to produce as much oil as we needed. We would provide the CBD market with a trustworthy name and transparent process. We knew that we had something special: a top-quality, artisanal, small-batch, local soil to oil CBD tincture made with non-toxic hemp that was affordable and very effective.

I’ve always been a big advocate of the “next step” mindset. When faced with a long journey ahead, just focus on the next step. It’s that mentality that brought me to where I am today with Humble Roots Farm and it’s the mentality Walt and I have been using since the beginning. The
next step for us at that point was to form a proper business and build a facility that could accommodate our processing needs. We set straight away to doing both and in 2019 our lab was complete and set up with top-of-the line professional extraction equipment. There are a  multitude of companies out there trying to get folks like us to buy very expensive extraction
machines, but we couldn't justify that expense, so we decided to use a method of ethanol extraction and distillation that would allow us to capture everything we wanted to and refine our extract into the product we needed without going too far into debt. Today we are exploring new
channels in the CBD market and hoping to help as many people as possible. We love educating people at the farmers’ market, spending time making CBD in our lab and getting our hands dirty in the field.

Looking back now, I’m beyond thankful that Walt asked me to consider growing hemp and we are grateful to be a part of this new and expanding world.

Kyle Stenerson and Walt Fletcher are the co-founders and co-owners of Restoration Hemp, Wilmington’s own and locally grown. For more information and to purchase their products, call 910-547-3763 or visit  RestorationHemp.com. See ad, page 18.