Over the summer, eight Garrett County farms included hemp in the crops being grown as part of the Maryland Industrial Hemp Pilot Program.
“I have always had an interest in the environmental and economic benefits of hemp,” said Darryl Glotfelty, who owns Meadow Mountain Hemp with his wife, Haeli Gustafson. “In school, it baffled me that the U.S. imports nearly a billion dollars in hemp products every year from around the globe. The question I was always left with is, ‘Why are American farmers not able to take advantage of a crop that was once commonplace on American farms?’”
When the couple served in the Peace Corps in Tanzania, Glotfelty said they saw the impacts of deforestation and plastic waste in the most remote corners of developing countries, as well as here in the States.
“Hemp could provide the solution to our addiction to petroleum-based plastics,” he said. “Haeli and I are interested in moving the industry forward by developing sustainable raw materials that can be used in local industry to create exports for the county.”
Glotfelty said they realize this is a hefty goal, but they remain dedicated to normalizing hemp production and working with local farmers to leverage current local infrastructure, increase acreage and create markets for harvested product.
“Meadow Mountain Hemp is starting this process through developing a brand of premium CBD products, and we are looking into further expansion into the fiber side of the industry in the coming years,” Glotfelty said.
He currently serves as chairman for the Mountain Maryland Hemp Alliance, a coalition of area hemp farmers who are working together to shape the industry and develop it locally.
This spring, he and his wife moved from D.C. to the Maryland family farm where Glotfelty’s father and grandfather grew up near the town of Accident.
“The Glotfelty Farm was once one of the most productive dairy farms in the state, and we are excited to work the same land that our family has been on for over 100 years,” Glotfelty said.
“This is definitely a hard industry to break into,” Glotfelty said. “We are constantly learning and adapting to the changing rules and regulations that the hemp industry faces. Finding markets for raw product has proved to be difficult, which is why our farm has pivoted to developing added-value products from our hemp. We developed some relationships through friends in Peace Corps that connected us with a CO2 extraction facility that produces the oils used in our products.”
Besides Meadow Mountain Hemp, Glotfelty reported that other participating farms and farmers include 9gen Farms, Jen Barnard; Zac Beitzel; Backbone Hemp, Kathrine Dubansky; Flower Sermon Farm, Mitch Long; Hardstruggle Hemp, Brent Housley and Aubrey Schlanger; Elvera Cochrell; and Levi Lantz.
All are currently growing hemp for CBD and CBG. Mitch Long is developing local genetics for the region, as well as some local processing solutions.
Barnard and her brother, Bryan, run 9Gen in Swanton. They started with hemp last year when Maryland first allowed growing.
“It honestly started out of curiosity,” Barnard said.“ I was starting to hear so much about CBD for pets and starting researching its effects for all species. When we realized we had space, we thought, ‘Why not?’”
She explained that the name 9Gen comes from the fact that their nephews will be the ninth generation of Barnards to inherit the farm.
“Bryan and I would love to be able to involve our nephews and their generation in local, sustainable agriculture and hope that hemp becomes just that,” she said.
This year, they have about 225 CBD plants, 75 CBG plants and also planted a half-acre of fiber hemp plants at a satellite location.
MD Curatives of Green, LLC
Cochrell’s farm is located in Oakland, and her business name is MD Curatives Of Green LLC. She explained that growing hemp has involved a lot of trial and error. The first year, her plants were eaten, and this year, only four of 27 survived.
“I learned that caring for the hemp plant is like caring for a baby,” she said. “Since the baby cannot talk — just cry — when things are not right, you have to look for those ‘crying’ signs in the plant and try to figure out what it is trying to tell you. It is very time-consuming. However, the rewards of having it grow to maturity are very satisfying. I am pleased to have gotten a few plants to the stage of maturity because this gives me the ability to learn more about the next stage: harvesting, drying and curing.”
Cochrell hopes to be able to produce more and learn how to use it as a medicinal product in foods, body creams and lip balms.
“With hemp, the sky is the limit because the entire plant, from the flower to the root, contains so many beneficial uses,” she said. “It is truly like entering into another galaxy.”
At Dubuansky’s farm in Oakland, Kathrine said they scaled up to 3,000 plants this year from 150 in 2019.
“We knew as soon as hemp was legalized in 2018 that it was a crop we wanted to grow,” she said.“ It has always been important to us to provide healthy food for our customer. Now we are very pleased to be able to offer them medicinals grown without chemicals in the healthy soil on our farm.”
Beitzel planted about 240 plants at his farm in McHenry this year, with the original intent of producing high quality, low-THC CBG for extraction into tinctures/oils and for smokeable flowers.
“My brother, Guy, and I became involved because we saw that it is an exciting new opportunity available for farmers in Garrett County to both produce beneficial health products and to make use of existing, but essentially unused, family farmland. Our hopes for the future are that federal and state laws will change to make it easier for farmers in Garrett County and Maryland to grow hemp without fear that their crop or extracted compounds would be deemed illegal based on their very low, but potentially still illegal, THC content.”
Schlanger’s farm in Accident includes around 325 plants.
“We decided to pursue our passions, leave our corporate careers and move back to rural Appalachia to honor our ancestors, work for ourselves and revitalize our family’s farmland,” Aubrey said. “We have a friend who grew hemp last year, and we were fascinated by all of the sustainable uses the hemp plant has to offer and how much fun they had with the experience. It was both exciting and challenging stepping out on our own.”
Glotfelty reported that the hemp harvest occurs when the plants’ flowers have reached maturity (when CBD is at its peak levels). The plants are cut, broken down and hung up indoors to dry and cure — similarly to what is done with tobacco.
After the hemp is dry, it is further broken down, and stems are separated from biomass. This biomass then goes through a process to extract all the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant. Fiber crops are harvested through mechanized processes similar to cutting and baling hay.
According to Glotfelty, CBD is just the beginning of the hemp industry in Garrett County.
“We see hemp as a solution to solving our global climate crisis, as well as to increase economic opportunities for local farms,” he said. “With the development of local infrastructure, we hope that our county will be a hub for hemp production, processing and industry that will produce sustainable raw materials. We ultimately hope to harness the power of hemp to develop biodegradable plastics to replace single-use plastics that are polluting the waterways and oceans.”
The Garrett County Republican writer Brenda Ruggiero can be reached at 301-501-8393 or by email at email@example.com.