Interview by VoyageBaltimore
Today we’d like to introduce you to Darryl Glotfelty & Haeli Gustafson, owners of Meadow Mountain Hemp.
Hi Darryl & Haeli, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today? Haeli and I met while serving in the Peace Corps in Tanzania from 2013-2016. I studied chemistry at Towson University and Haeli studied biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Both of us were placed as science teachers in our respective school communities. In addition to teaching, both of us focused our service on building local capacity to help solve health and nutritional deficiencies within our school communities. This included planting thousands of fruit trees and educating students on propagation, as well as developing solutions for water catchment and storage.
Haeli and I returned to the US in late 2016 and moved to DC to start new careers. I set out to work for an ag/tech startup outside of DC to grow novel hydroponic crops (edible flowers and rare herbs) for some of DCs best-rated restaurants. Haeli dove into international development program management as a government contractor for the global health supply chain in Nigeria.
While living in DC, the 2018 Farm Bill was passed, and the opportunity to grow hemp in Maryland was possible. Our family farm, where I grew up, is located in Accident, MD near Deep Creek Lake--about 3 hours from both DC and Baltimore.
Commuting back and forth to the care for and harvest the crop was not really viable for starting a new business enterprise. In late 2019, we made the decision to leave our jobs and make the move in Spring 2020 to launch our business full-time. We really wanted a lifestyle that meshed with our goals and dreams of creating a sustainable future. During the 2020 growing season, we began launching our line of Supercritical CO2 extracted CBD oils.
We teamed up with a friend from Peace Corps whose cousin had just started an extraction startup business. He began using our hemp in his product line and formulations and started doing small batch formulations for our company as well. The partnership has been quite successful and has allowed both of our businesses to grow significantly in the last year.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way? Industrial Hemp is a fairly new and developing industry. All cannabis (including hemp) was banned with the Cannabis Control Act of the 1940s. This halted the burgeoning hemp industry that had been developed to produce many items used by soldiers during the great World Wars. Everything from ropes, clothing, parachutes, and sails was made from hemp.
The infrastructure to produce these items vanished for over half a century and now hemp farmers and innovators are left to rebuild what has been lost. Along with lack of infrastructure, stringent regulation requires regular potency testing to ensure crops are not “hot” (over legal THC limit). During the years after the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, there was an overabundance of CBD crops on the marketplace.
This made it harder for small farmers to sell their crops and make a profit and thus many folks did not continue growing. We faced many of these issues as well in our first year, but persevered and built the right connections to make our vision successful.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know? Contrary to popular thought, hemp does not contain high amounts of THC, which is the psychoactive component of marijuana. Through the 2018 Farm Bill, it is legal to grow hemp containing up to 0.3% THC. Most people and legislators do not realize this and in many regions hemp is regulated just like marijuana, something we are working to change.
We specialize in growing and producing premium CBD and hemp products. What sets us apart from other, larger CBD companies is that we are the farmers who produce and market the product to consumers. Some CBD companies do not have a single source supply for their hemp and customers may not be aware of where or how it is grown.
With our products, consumers know exactly where their hemp is grown, how it is grown, and it is all backed up with third-party lab testing to guarantee product potency and ensure consumers are getting exactly what they expect. As farmers, we believe in sustainability and organic growing, which is why we farm using organic practices and inputs to ensure our hemp plants are natural and healthy, for both consumers and the planet.
Any big plans? Many people aren’t aware that every part of a hemp plant is usable. CBD is just the start for us and we are working towards creating and building the industry. Because hemp can be used to develop a wide variety of sustainable raw materials, our goal in the near future is to work with other local farmers to increase available acreage to grow hemp for fiber and create markets for the harvested product. We are aiming to make our region a hub for hemp production, processing, and industry.
Hemp Fiber has the potential to produce more green products for use in construction and healthcare, manufacturing textiles, and even bioplastics. Hemp was used for centuries to make everything from clothing to sailcloth, ropes, and canvas. The fiber from hemp plants is more breathable than cloth made from cotton, lightweight, naturally mold, mildew, and pest resistant, and it lasts longer than most other fibers.
We hope to replace single-use plastics with hemp alternatives to make the world a better place and reduce carbon footprints by utilizing the beauty of the hemp plant.