This week's episode of Utah in the Weeds is unique in so many ways. It is a conversation between a farm-to-table grower by the name of Margie and your regular hosts, Tim and Chris. Margie's business partner, Natasha, interjected from time to time when her perspective as needed.
Long story short, Margie and Natasha are growers up in Cache Valley. [02:50] They run a very small operation which they have recently expanded to include a limited list of retail hemp products. They no longer deal with biomass given the significant drop in prices. Instead, Margie and Natasha are focusing on the retail market. [15:31]
Most of the conversation centered around all the problems Margie has gone through in her effort to get her products to market. [08:21] She explained to Tim and Chris how difficult it has been to find a bank willing to work with them. She has also had trouble finding a reliable e-commerce partner. In short, the first two years have been nothing short of challenging.
What makes their operation so different is their passion. [28:51] Margie and Natasha truly love growing. They must, because they both hold down full-time jobs apart from their farm. Margie said all the work is worth it when she sees a field full of mature crops.
In addition to the bank and merchant challenges, Margie has struggled to secure reliable shipping. [18:16] She even had trouble with the local community when she first began her operation. [44:47] Her willingness to keep at it is a testament to her belief in hemp as a product that consumers need.
This episode can feel like it's all over the place at times. Still, the conversation is well worth listening to if you want to know what life is like for Utah growers.
Chris Holifield: Let's get going here. This is episode 49 of Utah in the Weeds. My name is Chris Holifield.
Tim Pickett: And I'm Tim Pickett, medical cannabis expert here in Utah. I'm excited. This episode is a recording of a conversation we had with Margie from The Hemp Folk up in Cache Valley, Utah.
Chris Holifield: Such an awesome conversation. She shares some fun stories. Well, not fun stories, but funny stories that she had to deal with even in the postal system. Shipping hemp through the mail. We'll get into that in the conversation.
Tim Pickett: This is one of those really down home local interviews. Her stories are just classic troubles with the hemp and CBD industry. It seems like she's had them all. It's fun to get to know her.
Chris Holifield: And then the obstacles she run into with the city. But I don't want to give too many spoilers. We're going to get into that here in just a minute. But you have some news going on with utahmarijuana.org.
Tim Pickett: Yeah. Utahmarijuana.org. And our clinic side, Utah Therapeutic Health Center, has opened a location for medical cannabis evaluations right inside the same building as Wholesome Co cannabis pharmacy. We're inside the same building, that Carr building there in Bountiful. We have a separate space. We're not part of Wholesome, we have our separate space. So that's important to know. So this is a legal thing. I want to make sure that there's that separation. Chris, you and I are going to do either a short episode or some more information, detailed information, probably next Friday, I hope, or a couple of weeks from now, where we're going to go through some of the legal changes over the legislative session. There's been some pretty big updates including another retail license coming.
Chris Holifield: Yeah. I'm excited to hear about all those laws.
Tim Pickett: Yeah. And changing to the way people get their cards, hopefully a little sooner instead of having to wait for the state. So we'll give all those updates in an upcoming episode.
Chris Holifield: Very cool. And then people can go check out the podcast you utahmarijuana.org/podcast. Go listen to them there, and make sure you're subscribed in whatever podcast outlet you're in ... that you listen to podcasts in. Obviously, the podcasts are free to listen to. So go check them out, go consume some great content about the cannabis community here in Utah. So anything else you want mention, Tim, or should we jump into this conversation with Margie?
Tim Pickett: No. Let's jump in.
Chris Holifield: All right. Here's that conversation that we have with Margie from The Hemp Folk. Thank you so much for listening. Enjoy the conversation.
Chris Holifield: How long have you been hemp farming?
Margie: So we started right when Utah allowed hemp farmers to grow. That's in the 2019. So 2018 we applied for growers permits, we got them. We've been farming for two years now in Utah.
Tim Pickett: Yeah. And your farm is up in Cache Valley. How is that because it seems like that's not the ideal climate for cannabis?
Margie: Well, I think that it will depend on the strain that you're growing. But the strain that we grow was the hope and express mostly. We also grew a bunch of other strains the first year that we got from Boulder Seed. There were some that were better suited for the climate than others. We grew a lot. We grew about three acres that first year outdoors and there was one strain, San Cinco, that turned out awesome in the beginning, and it grew super big, and it was great. And then two windstorm happened right when they were almost mature and knocked maybe a quarter of them down. There was so many things that we learned along the way. Both years have brought-
Natasha: Something new.
Margie: ... something new. Yeah.
Tim Pickett: You're learning something new. Did you have a lot of background in hemp farming? Tell us a little bit about your background because that's really interesting.
Margie: My background. So there's two of us. I am Margie Borecki, and we also have Natasha Quinones-Rodriguez. And I have a background in landscape architecture and environmental engineering, where I studied plant uptake of nutrients and metals. So I got a doctorate in how plants are ... the amount of nutrients and metals that various plants in stormwater detention basins took up. We speculate on the reasons as to why different plants work better, where the nutrients and the metals go. Whether it's in the soils, in the water, in the poor water, or in the plants, and what part of the plant? So if you wanted to look up my dissertations, those are super very thrilling and I bet you would like them, but not right at all.
Margie: Natasha on the other hand has a horticulture degree from Puerto Rico. She was the day-to-day person who really made a lot of the decision making when it came to, "Why's this plant yellow?" And Natasha would be like, "Well, I believe that, and we need this." And I'd be like, "Okay. Yeah. That's great." Because even though I have a degree in the uptake of nutrients and minerals in plants, my degree is not in how to keep plants alive, it's in what happens. So Natasha worked a lot with the plants and together, we were great checks and balance system. When I'm watering, I would be like one, two, three, four, next. One, two. And Natasha would like, "This one needs more." Back and forth I'm like, "Why did you do that?" And I'd be very meticulous, and she'd be like, "That one needs a little extra love of some kind." So we would go back and forth between the two of us. Whatever we did worked, it worked.
Margie: We had quite a few people in the valley here. I don't want to name names. I guess maybe I can, but somebody from UDF who would come up. So I just won't name a name. And they said, "Wow, this is one of the best grows." As far as the plants themselves that they've seen in all of Northern Utah, and it was true. We have a video up on our website. If you wanted to see it down at the bottom where we had a little bit of drone footage in an interview with me. A friend of mine had done the video. I like looking at the video just to remind myself how beautiful it was.
Chris Holifield: I watched that video a couple weeks back and I couldn't find ... What website is out on is that on? Is that on the intentionalfolk.com website? Because I'm not seeing it on there.
Margie: All the way down at the bottom is a video. It used to be thehempfolk.com, and it should now. So we have issues with the website. So we're rebranding. We have a farm that's called Intentional Growth farm, and we have products that are called The Hemp Folk products, right?
Tim Pickett: Yeah. Those are what I've seen online, right?
Margie: Yeah. And so this is still going to happen in the next couple days. We're rebranding as Intentional Folk because we might have, one, merge the two together so that people know that the farm and the products are the same, but two ... The products will still be called The Hemp Folk products, but two, because we don't have an e-merchant that will work with us. So we have e-merchant issues which are very separate than the farm, but we have e-merchant issues. The financial system has been very challenging for us so far.
Tim Pickett: Yeah. It's that hemp CBD transacting, right? It's selling CBD products online and finding a merchant or a processor that will work with you. Is that really the big problem?
Margie: Changing topics quite a bit, but originally, I had a bank account as a farm and that was fine. It was from a local credit union that I have five other bank accounts with. And one day just out of the blue, they're like, "You're a marijuana related industry. We no longer want to work with you. You have 30 days to get a new account."
Tim Pickett: Wow!
Margie: Yeah. And so I was like, "Well, crap." So I called a bunch of other banks that are hemp and cannabis friendly banks. Three of them told me I'm much too small that they're not even going to touch me. One of them said yes. And so I did all the paperwork and I waited probably two or three months. They came back to tell me that because I'm planning on selling more than 10% ingestibles on my website, they can't work with me. I would be paying for them to check my bank account every month, right? And I cannot sell more than 10% profit from ingestibles because of the different state laws. And so I'm without a bank for months. I finally found a bank in a different city in Utah, and they say, "We do business with hemp farmers in Utah, in Colorado, and Idaho, and I'm like, "Thank God." And they're like, "Yes, of course." And I gave them all my information and they're like, "You're out of our jurisdiction." I'm like, "I'm in Utah." They're like, "Yeah, but you're not in our part of Utah." Again I'm so upset.
Margie: I have a person on my LLC simply because they live near a different thing that really was willing to work with us. They are a member of our LLC simply because I needed a bank account and that bank was willing to work with us, and I needed to live within their jurisdiction, and it was a different… Yeah. So that was huge. That was one hurdle as far as financial institutions go. Another hurdle then was the e-merchant. The website itself, the platform that you're doing your website on has to be marijuana and CBD friendly. For example, wordpress.com is not CBD friendly. WordPress.org is free and it is CBD friendly. But my website designer is like, "Let's go to Wix. They're CBD friendly." I'm like, "Okay. Great. Let's do it." So we do it. And Square works with Wix, and Square is CBD friendly. Everywhere you go, it says, "CBD friendly, CBD friendly." Except they ask me for information and I gave them the information.
Margie: The next day, they asked me for the same exact email. "So you still need to provide us with information." So I gave them more right because they asked for different types of permits and business registrations. So I gave them more. Third day, they asked me for the same thing, exact same email from firstname.lastname@example.org. And so I'm like, "What am I not doing? Why are they not getting my information?" On my website it also says, "Make sure that there's no medical claims on your website." I'm like, "There's no medical claims on my website." We scour, we take just stuff off because we want to make sure there's no medical claims. A month later, they're like, "We're sorry, you're disqualified." For that month, I think I wrote 20 or 30 emails to email@example.com. I did live chats. "Type in what your problem is and we'll get someone to email you." Nobody calls you, nobody talks to you. They have a phone number, the phone number says, "I'm sorry. We're not taking customer service. We're just not taking telephone numbers." Even though they have a phone number, I couldn't get a single human to talk to me.
Tim Pickett: Wow.
Chris Holifield: That's crazy.
Tim Pickett: That's really crazy. Of that experience, now do you feel like you're solving that issue or is it becoming easier for you?
Margie: I don't know how much I can tell you without getting myself in trouble how I'm navigating this because I've talked to different e-merchants. And the problem with other e-merchants that I've had in the past, one, you pay 30 something dollars a month simply to have them, two, if there's ... Instead of having a 4% fee, it's six, or seven, or 8%. Of course there's a fee on top of that. Then the two that I've talked to both of them had a $40,000 minimum of sales you had to produce that month in order not to have an additional $300 fee. And I was like, "Wait, what? There's no way I can ever have that. I don't even know if I'll have $300 every month. I would hope but I don't know this." I don't have $300 to give them every month. We're day-to-day here. And so it's been challenging.
Margie: We thought that after our first year of growing, I remember telling Natasha and Natasha reminded me. I'm like, "I took out the loans, I took out all of the financial risk. I took the financial risk in the situation. And I said to her, I'm like, "If we are struggling to pay labor because our crop is so beautiful, and big, and wonderful, at harvest, we have done something right and that's where we want to be." So that first year we do everything we can. We are struggling to find labor, we are struggling to keep up, we are finding storage locations because we can't believe how much crop we have. We had somebody who just came in and they just ... they did half of the field for us because it just was so overwhelming for us. Even though we were there every day, it didn't click how much vegetation that was. And I'm like, "Fantastic. We have this amazing crop, we have this amazing biomass, we have these amazing flower because we started to dry, to cure the flower." And now I'm like, "I don't know how to sell it, and I can't sell it."
Margie: What used to be $30 a pound for the biomass, is now six. And I'm like, "Wait, so what you're telling me is if I sell this to you, I have to go bankrupt. Okay, I can't do that. I just can't do that." I can't pay off my debts. So how do you go about this? Which is why we started The Hemp Folk and The Hemp Folk products. It was within a month. We're like, "Okay. What do we know?" We know that hemp, the flower isn't selling. We know that there are processors and we know people are still buying. The buying hasn't stopped. So we quickly we ... What would it be called? The go-to phrase during the beginning of COVID. You need to pivot. Well we pivoted long before COVID started. We were like, "Oh." So we did anything and everything we could to try to stay afloat. We both have full-time jobs this year. And then we still have a farm, we still have a warehouse, we still have the product, we still sell everything. Everything is still going on. It's just more intense.
Chris Holifield: More hurdles to jump over, it sounds like.
Tim Pickett: Yeah. It sounds like you're still dealing with the banking and e-commerce type stuff. And hopefully that really gets better. You're threading this needle with the financial system, but at the same time you dealt with ... You talked about the crash in hemp prices, right?
Tim Pickett: From $30 to $6. And we've talked to multiple people about that. When we talked to Kyle Egbert, he described that too, a clean leaf and just the fact is the biomass market just tanked.
Margie: Just crashed.
Tim Pickett: Right. It just crashed.
Chris Holifield: Remind me what caused that, Tim. Did we talk about that? Why did the biomass market crash? What was the reason?
Margie: In 2018, Utah allowed for hemp to be sold ... to be grown via the 2014 Farm Bill, right?
Chris Holifield: That's right.
Margie: But it's a 2018 also passed the Farm Bill. So other states automatically allowed him to grow. So all of a sudden we're going from ... the numbers are off, but from a handful of states growing hemp to 20s, 30s states that are growing hemp. Thousands, thousands, and thousands of acres of hemp. Everybody had the price data, $30 per pound. I would have been sitting much prettier than I am right now and everybody else would have. They were so much-
Tim Pickett: There just was so much biomass because all of the farmers who just decided, "You know what? This is going to be a great opportunity. Prices are 30 bucks, we're just going to grow hemp." But then everybody kind of ran into the same problem you did, right?
Margie: Yeah. Who we're selling to.
Tim Pickett: Yeah. Who are you going to sell it to? And so the market just crashes. Interesting.
Chris Holifield: Who was the plan to sell it to before you even started farming though? Was there a plan in place there of how that would work there?
Margie: So there were the processors who would have bought it if they weren't inundated. But because they were inundated, they started doing the 50/50 contracts or something along those lines. They were like, "We don't want to do the 50/50 contracts. We're only want to sell it for six, seven dollars a pound." And at that point, you're like, "Okay. Well then, who else wants to sell it ... to buy it?" I can sell my flower. It's cured, and it's beautiful, it's smokable, but who can legally buy it? And that was a lot. Trying to mail hemp that first year was intense. I got good stories about mailing hemp as well. There's been a lot of good stories.
Chris Holifield: Let's hear one of your good stories about mailing hemp before we forget.
Tim Pickett: So this is you selling smokable hemp flower to somebody in another state because you can't sell it in Utah.
Margie: Can't sell it in Utah, can’t sell it across state lines, though it's totally legal.
Tim Pickett: Well, okay, yes. But it smells like weed.
Margie: It smells like weed. FedEx may or may not be send it someplace, UPS may or may not. They both have policies in place saying they will not send hemp. But they haven't fixed the policy to say yes, we will. I guess it was more accurate. The post office has a policy in place. We will. It is federally legal, we are a federal entity, hemp is legal. All right. So I think the first time something happened with the mail is that I'm sending it to a lab in Nevada to get tested to see what we have. Once it's been cured, it's been harvested, cured, we want it tested. Nothing's coming back and I'm like, "I need this because I need to be able to sell it." I don't know what I'm going to say. I don't know about the CBD percentage, I don't know if it passes all of the requirements. And a week later, nothing. Two weeks later, they're like, "We don't have anything." And I'm like, "Whatever." So I called the post office. And I think I had kept track of it that time.
Margie: I think I spent 10 hours on the post office phone waiting for people to answer. Once people answered, they told me there's not much they could do, blah, blah, blah. Finally, it got to a place I get a letter in the mail saying, "Call this number." And so I call the number and the lovely lady is like, "Okay, so that's what you think? Okay. Somebody will call you back. And I was like, "Uh-huh." So now it's been another week, somebody does call me back and they say, "Oh, it's industrial hemp. Can we open it up?" I'm like, "Yeah. Go for it." It's industrial hemp, all of the information is in there, our grow permit is in there, everything is in there.
Margie: Okay. Now, mind you, on the tracking of the package, it said no such number. It said that I put the address in wrong, it didn't say picked up by the postal inspectors, which is very ironic because I actually work for the post office now. I think it's pretty cool that I get a job at the post office and I'm like, "All right. People should tell me all these things." I've even met some of the postal inspectors that have inspected my packages which is also very cool, almost by accident. How cool is that, right?
Chris Holifield: That's awesome.
Margie: Now I get to ask them about stuff all the time. But so this is now three weeks since I originally sent the package. I sent a different package via FedEx probably illegally, but I'm like, "I need to try something else because I need the results." And so that already comes, I already got my results, and now the original package finally it gets to the lab. We have issues because they think I'm wanting to get that analyzed again, and they charge me again, and I'm like, "Wait, no." There's just all these things that are constantly happening, all these little roadblocks, but they finally get it. The second time this happens, we send it to a smoke shop somewhere in the Oregon Washington coast and it's similar. And now this time the person who ends up calling me back I don't freak out because for a while I was like, "Are they going to come to my house knock down my door? I don't know." You just don't know what's going to happen. Everything was so new at the time.
Margie: The second time, I get a person on the phone and he was lovely. He tells me people on the post office line, they don't see a package, smell it. They don't know what the difference between marijuana and hemp is. And I'm like, "But I'm the boss. It says certified industrial hemp." He goes, "They're thinking it's marijuana. They put it here. But yes, you have every right to send it." I'm like, "But now it's four days later. The hemp might have been sitting in the sun the whole time and gotten mold." I don't know. And he's like, "Well, do you know what we can do? We can put you on the vetted list. So I'm on the postal vetted list, which is a good thing. Everybody should be on the postal vetted list. I have no idea how to get on this vetted list. All I know is he sent me an email, I sent him back information, I got on the list.
Tim Pickett: ow!
Chris Holifield: That's cool. Yeah. So basically your packages won't get messed with anymore.
Margie: No, they still do because I sent 100 pounds, six different packages, 30 pounds each.
Chris Holifield: Oh, my gosh.
Margie: This is a $25,000 load ... package that I'm shipping to California. And I had a signature confirmation, all of the things and it gets stopped. And I'm like, "Well, crap." So I finally call the postal inspectors and I'm like, "Listen, I'm on the vetted list. Just talk to me." They find five out of the six boxes. They're like, "Okay. They're sitting over here." But it's been four, or five, six days. By the time they get it, it's a week. The people who get it they happen to get ... they're a marijuana dispensary, that they're buying from me. They happened to have gotten robbed at gunpoint or something. So they're busy. By the time I call them, they tell me that all of my stuff is moldy.
Tim Pickett: Oh, wow.
Chris Holifield: Just down there. So you lost it.
Margie: I lost it.
Chris Holifield: Oh, my gosh.
Tim Pickett: This is crazy. What are you supposed to do? Just drive it yourself?
Margie: That's your best bet.
Tim Pickett: For $25,000, I'll drive to California too. You can sign me up, I'll start delivering for you.
Margie: I wouldn't be able to pay you the whole thing, Tim.
Tim Pickett: No. Of course not. That is pretty interesting that you can still get on the vetted list.
Margie: Even on the vetted list. They had no problems with it. It's just that it had to go through the process.
Chris Holifield: You can't mail it to customers. It just seems it gets lost, they take it, it gives you a bad name to these customers because these people aren't understanding why they're not getting it because they're like, "Well, it's legal. Hemp is legal. Why can I get it delivered in the mail?" That's crazy. I just can't believe it. So what needs to be done to stop it? I guess just full legalization of everything is really the only way to stop that. What do you think the way around that one is?
Margie: Our process now is that when we send it, one, absolutely 100% it's not only in a smell proof container, locked container, it is in three baggies, three separate baggies, three different sizes. There cannot be smell because as soon as there's a smell of any kind, people love catching this. They love catching it. It's a game.
Chris Holifield: They feel like they were a hero. They're like, " Oh, yeah."
Margie: Yeah. At one point I had on the top of the boxes, I said, "I am on the USPS vetted list. This is industrial hemp. Please call this number if you need anything." They still stop one of those packages. It just had to go through the due process because just what if she's going... Maybe if the post office offers, you would have to always go through your ... Whether it's Click-N-Ship, or Shippo, or Shopify, you would have to have a designation when you print your labels and pay for your labels to yes, I am a vetted industrial hemp farm. Up for now, that hasn't happened, that doesn't happen. Who knows.
Chris Holifield: And I would imagine all hemp farmers are running into this. Obviously it's everywhere.
Tim Pickett: This seems like it's a crazy system problem. It's interesting because on the other side, there seems to be so much CBD out there right now, right? And there's so many products good, bad, your products are good vetted products locally. You're like farm-to-table, CBD, right? That's the whole idea.
Margie: It really is.
Tim Pickett: Cache Valley cheese, Cache Valley hemp.
Margie: Well, not only is it farm-to-table. The process that we use is a traditional extraction process. Some of our products do have distillate in it, but most of our products in a large majority of the CBD comes from traditionally extracted methods. It's not even going through alcohol or through a CO2 extraction process.
Tim Pickett: So talk to us a little bit about that traditional extraction methods, when you make your oil or when you make your gummies.
Margie: So for the people who have done it themselves think cannabutter, but we use coconut oil. I've worked in a lab for seven years right getting my PhD, that's what I did. I did lab research and field research. With the coefficient to account for loss, I knew how to calculate. If I put in this much hemp flower in the hemp flower has this much percent CBD with a coefficient of probably 80 to 85% if it is going to stay in the oil, how much CBD am I going to have in the oil? And when I did the calculation the first time and then we had the certificate of analysis for the coconut oil, I was stunned how close I was. I was like, "Holy crap. We could do this over and over again." And so we just have to make sure that this happens with a process like in working with a processor.
Margie: I've been fortunate that I was friends with two different processors and I get to work with them at their place under their license to get this done. I just do it for myself. Because I use my plants, we only use the flower that's been trimmed and because that way I know exactly what I'm putting into the oil. If I was to put biomass in it, it wouldn't be concentrated enough.
Chris Holifield: Interesting.
Tim Pickett: That's interesting. I really like this idea. This is the classic farmers market hemp to me. This is what it sounds like to me. This is not an industrial processed farm, this is a small farm. Do you want to grow bigger, do you want to do more, or do you want to just stay farm-to-table?
Margie: Do we want to go bigger, do we want to grow more, or do we want to stay farm-to-table? I asked Natasha because Natasha loves to grow. There is nothing more beautiful than being especially towards the end of August September October, the very beginning. October becomes a little too busy. So I guess September is this beautiful time. There's nothing more beautiful. I would stay at the farm 24 hours a day. There's nothing more lovely than being there, being inundated with the beautiful smell in the ... You know that this plant is a good plant. It just brings so much happiness. Everybody who comes there is like, "It's so nice." I'm like, "Yeah. So nice, and so beautiful, and the plants are beautiful." We had a herd of rodeo horses run through while the big plants were still babies so everything's turned out fine. It was really, really cool. It's so beautiful. I would love that. And Natasha if she could, that's all she would do. She would stay out at the farm, she would not do any of this other stuff. But we have to do what we have to do.
Chris Holifield: How big is your farm now? Do we even talk about how many plants or how many acres your farm is now?
Margie: So originally in 2019, the farm was 3,800 plants or so. Something under 4000 plants. And again, we could not physically harvest. Because we did it all by hand, we could not physically harvest half of it. So somebody else ... they ended up taking our plants from us. In theory, we're splitting the profits, but we haven't seen anything from that yet. It's okay. It's only worked out fine. Last year, we went smaller. How many plants did we have last year?
Natasha: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Margie: We had about 2,000 plants last year. And that was much more doable. And we focus this year not on biomass. There's no reason for us to do biomass at this point. So we focused on getting the flower. Because it grows outside, everybody should worry about plants grown outside, any plants. When you get it tested for the microbial populations, outside plants will very often have aspergillus. I mean, every carrier will have that, everything will have that, but if you're on a farm, it's very likely you'll have aspergillus. And so some of our flowers last year that was outside flower because, we also have a greenhouse, some of the outside flowers had aspergillus. So in order to combat that, what we've done is we actually wash the plants. Right after harvest, we actually take every single physical plant, dip it into a hydrogen peroxide solution, dip it into a water solution, dip it into a water solution, dip it into a water solutions, then hang it up to dry. That kills all of the aspergillus so that we know and I can feel super comfortable being like, "You could smoke this, you can eat this, you could do whatever you want, everything." Now imagine doing all that and still not having anyone to sell to. You lose hope that this is ever going to work. It was so much work and it was a lot of fun. Truly, we have so much fun.
Margie: We have a group of people here that are 18, maybe 19 is the youngest that we have, to a woman who's in her 60s who comes and helps all the time just because everybody just loves hanging out. This is fun. This is a fun great thing to do and you feel you're a part of something. That's probably why we're still doing it again. So this year we grew the 2,000 plants. We only focused on the flowers so that we had much less shared space that we needed to have ... to dry and we just focusing on curing them.
Chris Holifield: Margie, I was reading somewhere on your website a couple weeks ago, when we were originally going to talk to you, that you guys you grow edible mushrooms too there on the farm or something like that, or you did?
Margie: We still do under our umbrella. Natasha is here, but we don't have to headphones so I'm going back and forth with her.
Chris Holifield: Sure.
Margie: We actually also grow edible mushrooms. All right. Tell me the names because I've forgotten.
Natasha: Pink oyster, king oyster.
Margie: There are different types of oysters. There's the pink, the king oyster, we have the shiitake, we have lion's mane. So it's the same farm, it's just at a different location. This one is on a residential property, but we have a greenhouse that we grow them in and do all of the sterilization, and that's necessary for growers.
Natasha: We grow them in hemp stocks.
Margie: What was that?
Natasha: We grow them in hemp stocks.
Margie: So one of the reasons we did that is because we had all these hemp stocks. And we're like, "What are you going to do with this?" If you burn it, it smells like weed and then the whole, all of Cache County, the sheriff department is going to come. So we don't want to burn it. And well, and we could always compost it but we're like, "What can we do with this?" So we grow them on hemp stocks.
Chris Holifield: Interesting.
Margie: We put the mushroom on the ... What's it called?
Chris Holifield: We inoculate.
Margie: We inoculate them in the hemp stocks.
Tim Pickett: This is cool. And then what do you do with those? Do you sell those? Do you just eat them up?
Margie: Both. Mushrooms are so good. We try to sell them. For now as long as we're as we were going to have a market here in Logan that we were going to do mushroom Mondays, but we didn't have enough interest. So we were trying to finish the mushroom greenhouse. So we're doing all of the things at once. It went back and forth and we did what we could when we could. For right now, it just was cold.
Margie: So we just decided that we had to build another shed so that we didn't have to do the sterilization inside of a small kitchen. We built a shed so that we can have the sterilization done there. And that way that's right next to the mushroom greenhouse, and then it'd be an easier back and forth instead of trying to get it all. Because you have to have it all sterile. And so we have these 20 gallon totes that we have little holes in and you have to put in your hands inside of the gloves, and then you work with it and try to inoculate the hemp stocks. Because as soon as you get any bacteria in there, the bacteria will overtake it.
Tim Pickett: Oh, wow.
Margie: It's an interesting process. It's all Natasha. I would love to be able to take the credit for this, but truly, it's all Natasha. I know how I've been helping, all of the things but truly this was a Natasha brainstorm idea that she's like, "I just want to try it. I want to learn how." And she's been all over it since then.
Tim Pickett: Yeah. It's super cool. And I think that they go together honestly.
Margie: You got to be ready for the future.
Tim Pickett: And that's really the point. You need to learn how to grow these things because the research around mushrooms is it's going to come fast.
Chris Holifield: Mushrooms are good.
Tim Pickett: Yeah. Like psychedelics come as far as from a medicine standpoint. I've been doing myself a lot of research on addictions and resetting the narrative for people. We'll talk more about that when that comes down the road.
Margie: The potential is just huge. I'm really hoping that the narrative that ... just the everyday narrative around the United States changes. And it has been starting to change, which is a positive, right? We all want that, but maybe not all of us. All of us that are not scared of it want it.
Tim Pickett: Yeah.
Margie: We have to have something else rather than chemical pharmaceuticals that truly there has to be something.
Tim Pickett: So go back to this uptake of nutrition and uptake of this. All of this stuff that gets put into this plant. How does your education really adjust what you're doing for these plants? Can you manipulate what they're what they're taking in? It seems like you could.
Margie: Actually I could, but I haven't. What I know how to do right now is to document what we have been doing. I'm not in a position where I could be like, "You know what? This week I'm going to focus on something that I don't have to do to make food readily available on my table." Because it does take brainpower and it takes physical time to try to get these things done. And I don't have the access to a laboratory to take more tests. I think what the benefits of my education truly are is that I am so completely process driven.
Margie: I don't do things because I think it's a good idea, I do things because, wait, if I do point A, it should give me the point B, and once we get to point B, we see that it's either going to go C or D. And if Because see, this is what we should do, and if it goes D, this is what we should do. That's why Natasha and I work so well together because I'm like, "Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. We're not at sea. You can't keep doing that." And so we go back and forth. Were constantly assessing and positioning ourselves to try to get the best results. That said, I think that what we've run into last year, so 2020 was just time in energy roadblocks. And I think that those were probably two of our largest roadblocks. We didn't have the time to do all the things we wanted to do. And we sure didn't have the energy to do all the things we wanted to do.
Margie: With that, we don't have the money to pay someone to do those things either. We did the best we could knowing that somethings had to give. In agriculture oftentimes something has to give. I think any farmer will tell you that's obvious. That's not an option to try to do all the things you want to do. It's a matter of what you can do.
Tim Pickett: This is an inspiring story, I feel like. I really love this.
Chris Holifield: So It looks like people can buy your products right on your website too, on the intentionalfolk.com or Hemp Folk website, right?
Margie: That's correct. In the state of Utah, I have a retail license and we can sell any product, any of our five products in the state of Utah. So we have gummies tinctures, body butter, and topical oil, and lip balm. But online, I can sell anything just about anybody. You have to know what it is legal in your state, and the burden is at that point on the buyer, not on the producer.
Tim Pickett: Right. But in Utah, you can sell all of this stuff and you have your CRAs right there online.
Margie: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes. They're all there. So at those five products absolutely. And now that the bill passed, so we can start selling hemp flower in the state of Utah. It just has to be registered with the state and you have CRAs for it postharvest, not the preharvest that the state does for you.
Tim Pickett: Got it. Not the stuff that says, "Okay. This is not hot. This has less than 0.3% THC."
Margie: Yes. It cannot be that one.
Tim Pickett: But now you can start selling smokable flower to a consumer.
Margie: As long as it is labeled, as long as it's clearly states that it's ... which I think is strange. That is for medical purposes only, and it does not look like candy, not for anyone under 21, and it has to have point 0.3% total THC or less. Even though it's that's the law for hot, you can't sell it also.
Tim Pickett: I see.
Margie: If it's above the 0.3, even after harvest and after curing.
Chris Holifield: And if you're lucky if the post office doesn't catch it and hold on it.
Tim Pickett: And hold on to it.
Chris Holifield: Especially in Utah, you're mailing within the state.
Margie: Okay. It really is. It's kind of a dog chasing after a squirrel or something. They're like, "It smells!" People just get excited.
Tim Pickett: They do. Okay. So theoretically, I can go to the farmers market next summer and I could buy smokable craft grade hemp.
Margie: Oh, I don't know about that. Theoretically, maybe. Yeah.
Tim Pickett: I think your problem is going to be testing.
Margie: Oh, okay. So I don't think that's actually accurate. I think in the bill it does say that it cannot be for smoking, it can be for vaping.
Tim Pickett: Oh, yeah. Okay. No flames.
Chris Holifield: Well, yeah. When I think of smoking, I just think of vaping.
Tim Pickett: To be honest, that's what I think about.
Margie: Me too. Yeah.
Tim Pickett: Yes.
Chris Holifield: That's awesome.
Tim Pickett: But this is a pretty big deal.
Chris Holifield: I hope somebody does that at a farmers market. I hope somebody's pushing for the downtown Salt Lake or Park Silly.
Margie: I don't think it'll be in Logan. I do not. Last summer I asked to sell my CBD products that are 100% legal, registered in the state of Utah. All of the paperwork, all of the registrations, they didn't want it.
Tim Pickett: Oh, wow.
Margie: And I'm like, "I grow it here, I produce it here."
Tim Pickett: You're the reason they're farming in Cache Valley. The whole point up there. Utah state is one of the world's top horticulture education centers, right?
Margie: The school of agriculture is world renowned. But there's still stigma, and dealing with that stigma is just ... So I will say this. I don't know if the stigma changed or if I've changed. The first year before this all ... Do we have enough time for one more really-
Tim Pickett: Yes.
Chris Holifield: I got all the time. Go ahead.
Margie: You could edit half of this out, more than half. You can edit most of this out. It is March, it's still snowing outside. I'm having a backtrack a little bit. I was working for a federally funded grant program for sustainable ad. I won't say where. It's easy to find where I worked, but I'm not going to say. And I told the farmer friends of mine, good friends of mine, "This is happening. You guys, you have to grow hemp." And they're like, "Margie, we're so stinking busy. We can't do one more thing." And I'm like, "Come on, please. Go ahead. This is the coolest thing in the world. It's dream come true." And they're like, "That's why we're giving you land to grow hemp." I'm like, "What?" They're like, "You do it." And I was like, "Okay." So that's how I started to grow hemp.
Natasha: A big shout out to them.
Margie: And a big shout out to Mt. Naomi Farms up in Cache Valley. If you guys ever have an event that needs to happen, this is so beautiful. There's super high class barn, and a real working dairy with a real vineyard. Unbelievable. These people are so, so amazing. But they also grow alfalfa. They wanted to gift me and lease to me, for a very reasonable price, three acres of land and helped me out all year long for the last two years.
Margie: And so I'm driving by, it's March and I'm telling a friend of mine. "Hey, friend. My farm is going to be right around here somewhere, right?" And I'm all excited. It's 7:00, 8:00, 9:00PM, it's dark outside, and someone's in front of me going pretty fast, someone's behind me also going fast. I'm like, "Oh, it's going too fast. I don't know where I'm at." It's the middle of the night. I've only been there maybe five times and I've taken the back roads. And so I'm like, "I'm just going to pull over, check my GPS. Okay, cool." I pull over, check my GPS. The car behind me isn't going forward. And so I rolled up and when I'm like, "Just go, just go," it's a state trooper, it's a sheriff. I'm a smart person, but I get really stupid when I'm nervous. I talk a lot, I tell everybody everything. "Of course, everything is good, everything is good. I'm going to be a hemp farmer." I'm going to have all of the wrong things come out of my mouth. Anything that I shouldn't have said, I said to the sheriff.
Margie: Turns out Sheriff lives in that neighborhood. Sheriff knows that there's adopted kids, foster kids. When they start selling hemp as marijuana at the high school, whose fault is that going to be? And we don't want no outsiders in our backyard selling, growing this bad stuff. And it was really interesting because this is a sheriff. And he obviously knows so much, but all wrong. Just twisted enough where I'm like, "That's not true. So many of the things you said are correct, but that's not true." And so it was really, really interesting how that type of information is so dangerous. Now, mind you, I had no way of defending myself. I'm like, "I'm so sorry. Should I write a letter? Should I tell everybody?" I was just completely and utterly not at my best at that moment. And my friend just was shocked. I didn't know how to stop myself.
Margie: So fast forward, I tell the people, the owners of the forum that this happened. They're like, "Did we ask them if the subdivision could come in?" "No." "This is legal. This is my land, you're fine." I was like, "Okay. I got to buy a gun." All right. I don't know what's going to happen. I do not know what's going to happen. A month later, I get a phone call from some folks that I happen to know also in the industry. One of them who lives in that neighborhood asks me, "Did you get stopped by a cop the other ... like a week or two ago?" And I'm like, "How the hell would you know? How would you possibly know that this happened?" He goes, "We had a neighborhood meeting. He brought you up, about how some outsider girl is going to come in and she's going to ruin our neighborhood." And I'm like, "Oh, my God."
Tim Pickett: Wow!
Chris Holifield: That's horrible.
Tim Pickett: Wow. So have they been somewhat more receptive?
Margie: No. They've been lovely. I'm scared. Don't get me wrong. I'm scared. I had hunters who would normally come and hunt on that land with their gun, with their rifles and I have my cameras up. And I'm like, "Oh, my God." Everybody's been kind, everybody's been nice.
Tim Pickett: That's good.
Margie: But the fear was huge. We got concealed weapons permits. You can't put on the actual podcast that we actually don't have any weapons, but we could.
Tim Pickett: That is awesome.
Chris Holifield: I'm so glad that you came on the podcast. You got some great stories.
Margie: And I'm sure that there's more. Truly, this has been such a crazy amazing experience. To your question, Tim, I don't know how I'm going to put this together with my dissertation research. There's a million ways. I was asked to give a bunch of information to the university and I'm like, "I could, but then what will I have?"
Tim Pickett: Yeah. It seems to me like you have done something that you set out to do. You've done your own research in a small way. A lot of people are talking about industrial hemp, and biomass and the extraction processes. We've talked to quite a few people in this hemp space and everybody has such a different perspective on it. And your perspective is really truly from this local ... the local farmer perspective, what do you do? How do you go out there? What are the hurdles? And people need to hear that because this is ... It's coming back, it will get easier, but the process of getting to the point where it's easy to where you can go down to the farmers market and you can buy some hemp flower, or you can buy some CBD body butter that was made in your town with natural extraction methods, the process to get us to that point is so ridiculous. That's the real story that I think people need to understand.
Tim Pickett: It's not just learning how to be a farmer and grow tomatoes, and you take the best tomatoes down and sell them. It's the sheriff, it's the permits, it's the weather, the rodeo ponies, it's dipping it in hydrogen peroxide and then water so that it's safe. It's the testing, all of that testing.
Margie: There's a lot of testing. Every time you have a product that is registered in the state of Utah, someone's paid $1,000 because between the CLA ... Mind you, I have a tincture that's a one ounce. In order to test it, it's 1,000 ... Well, it's $600 plus 300. I think it's $20 for the registration. Now, I changed that to make it strawberry flavored. I have to go through $1,000 again.
Chris Holifield: That's crazy.
Margie: I changed it just to make a different size. It's $1,000 again. That's why I have five products. I could do all sorts of great products and they're coming. It's a matter of making sure that I have that. What I tells Natasha all the time and anyone who's listening out there in podcast world, is what I need is an investor who's got about $100,000 that knows high risk commodity marketing because this is considered a high risk commodity. And if someone has high risk ways of knowing how to sell this, I'll be interested because I don't need an investor that knows how to grow, I don't need an investor who knows how to do any of these other things. I at this point need to figure out how to manage the realm of being able to get this out of the market because you can't do Google ads, you can't do Instagram ads, and Facebook will take you down.
Margie: If you're selling blankets, it's easy. Within a couple minutes, you set up your website, you get your Facebook people out there, you buy one of those ad things where you get a couple extra 1,000 followers and you're on your way. Oh, no. It's not nearly that. You just can't do it. And if you try to do it, they'll take you down because then you're hemp. So I'm like, "Okay." So you play this game. Okay. I'm on Instagram. I sell CBD products, but definitely not on Instagram. Instagram is just about how lovely my life is. And you play this game. I would love to be able to put an ad on there, but I can't. I would love to be able to say, "Buy my products." But it can. It's interesting.
Tim Pickett: I know it will get better. And you really are doing all the right things. This is really cool. It's cool to meet you and hear your story. You guys are awesome.
Chris Holifield: Margie, anything you want to add before we wrap this episode up? Any final words, or comments, or something that we didn't cover in this conversation that you were hoping we did cover?
Margie: So the easiest way to get ahold of me is email, phone, or website. Just the average, the normal avenues. I text so if you want to get ahold of me, 764-6666. 435 is area code. So 435-764-6666. Email address is thehempfolk.com. No. Thehempfolk@firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tim Pickett: Thehempfolk@email@example.com. And that is on your website, right?
Margie: Yeah. And we are rebranding to Intentional Folk. The website will be intentionalfolk.com. But give us a week or two before that actually happens.
Tim Pickett: Intentionalfolk.com.
Margie: Our Instagram page if you want to see really good information with a lot of our products, a lot of our plants, you'll see more and more of the farm, is The Hemp Folk. It's just @thehempfolk, and again, that will be changing to @intentionalfolk. I think that this is so typical of this industry. I would love to be able to tell you that it's good. It's The Hemp Folk, and that's all I'm doing, but it can't. And it's not because I don't want to, it's just I needed to figure out a way to be able to sell products.
Tim Pickett: Yeah. It's always changing. That'll be the case for a little while, at least.
Chris Holifield: That's why you always have to stay on the news of what's going on in the industry, listen to all that podcasts, and news outlets, and so on and so forth.
Margie: So I would like to add one thing. Chris, can I?
Chris Holifield: Yeah. Of course.
Margie: I think that Tim definitely is more in the marijuana realm. And what I want to talk about is why I think ... And I'm not a medical doctor, but why I think CBD has a place for both smokable, ingestibles, and so forth. CBD, because it doesn't give you the head high, it does provide more and more of the pain relief. It helps with the inflammation, it helps with balancing out your endocrine system. So because of that I have a lot of friends who happen to also be more in the marijuana realm. And they're like, "Your products don't work." I'm like, "No. You just don't feel it, but the effects are there." That's one of the hurdles that I recently started to try to address.
Margie: I'm realizing that it's the older folks in the 50, 60, 70s that are starting to realize I want to not have pain every day, that are starting to take my products. And they're like, "This is the first time I've slept in three days ... for three days in a row for nine hours at a time in years." But they don't get the high. So it's hard to know if it's working. If you're looking for a high, you don't notice it as much. If you're looking to smoke hemp and then get high and to get an instant obvious effect, it's a lot harder to. You have to be ready for the small changes not for a big obvious one, like you get with THC.
Tim Pickett: You make a really good point and it's a good way to close out because you are right. And if somebody is looking for an introduction to cannabis, but they don't want to get stoned or high, then CBD products are the way to go. They're a good introduction, you can always try. You can always increase things, right?
Tim Pickett: You can always try things and then go to different products if one thing doesn't work, but it's a good way to try to introduce yourself to cannabis, it's CBD products.
Margie: In case people don't know, you can ingest cannabis, you could smoke cannabis, but you can also topically apply cannabis. It won't cure things, but holy crap. Is it helpful to reduce the pain?
Chris Holifield: Oh, yeah. After lifting some heavy weights or something like that.
Tim Pickett: It's restoring balance. The endocannabinoid system is a system for homeostasis, and sometimes you just have to supplement.
Margie: I'd much rather try something that's cannabis related, made from cannabis, versus something that's made from some new chemical that they came up with.
Chris Holifield: Exactly. I'm so glad we got you on the podcast, Margie.
Margie: Thanks, Chris. I'm so glad I could be here.
Tim Pickett: Thanks for coming on.
Chris Holifield: We'll have to bring you back through down the road and see how the farm is going-
Tim Pickett: Yeah. See how the farm is going.
Chris Holifield: ... and see how things are going.
Tim Pickett: Intentionalfolk.com. Yeah. This has been fun.
Chris Holifield: Your website, go check out your stuff, Tim. Utahmarijuana.org is how people can check out more of what you got going on, utahmarijuana.org/podcast is where people can listen to the podcast.
Tim Pickett: Yep. Utahmarijuana.org/podcast. All of them are up, Chris, and you release them every Friday morning 4:20.
Chris Holifield: Every Friday morning 4:20AM. Make sure you're subscribed in your favorite podcast player. If for some reason we're not in a podcast player, reach out to Tim or myself and let us know so we can make sure to get the podcast there.
Tim Pickett: Yep.
Chris Holifield: Otherwise, you have a good night, Margie.
Tim Pickett: All right. Stay safe out there.