FULTON — One of Oswego County’s largest hemp farms is introducing a new service later this year — an opportunity to pick their own hemp.
Ananda Farms, located at 69 Wilcox Road in Fulton, this month received approval from the state Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) to offer a you-pick hemp plant service, according to Ananda Farms founder Sarah Stenuf.
“We hope to bring the community together while making history, having fun and creating a spark in enthusiasm for farming,” Stenuf said Tuesday.
Interested pickers will find the service to be “remarkably similar” to traditional you-pick produce farms come October — the program’s start date according to officials.
When opened, consumers will have the chance to pick from a selection of nearly 8,000 seedlings spread across a nearly 20-acre lot near Ananda Farms’ main Fulton location.
Pickers will have the option to take as much of the plant as they want from just a simple branch to a plant with all the roots; a part of the plant many people may not know benefits of, she said.
“If people would like to take the roots that is perfectly fine. There are a lot of benefits to the roots,” Stenuf said, noting that the roots can be made into teas or other products.
She said the initiative would bring an abundance of benefits to not only her farm — such as lowered production costs, direct sales to people, and more — but to the community as well.
“We plan on helping the community by bringing them opportunity, not just jobs. There will be farming incentives and incoming tax revenue for the community, but our biggest push out of everything is bringing educational awareness,” Stenuf said.
Spreading educational awareness around hemp’s benefits is a critical point and driving factor for Stenuf’s operation, she said. While people select from the fields, officials would teach people the proper way to extract, dry and trim their hemp plants to produce a variety of commonly used products including ropes, textiles, paper, food, and more.
Stenuf stressed that the plants tailored to be picked are not intended for smoking or redistribution purposes, but instead to people 18 or older who are seeking “safe and affordable access” to hemp.
“This is an opportunity for us to provide an organic plant that was grown with love and grown locally. We don’t spray it. We don’t put plastic on the field. We give the chance for the community to grow and have this opportunity to provide a safe product for our consumers,” Stenuf said.
Ananda Farms is a vertically integrated company, meaning that Stenuf manages the delivery of products from organic seeds originally from the town of Delhi, to small sprouts to then fully grown hemp plants.
She said her plants, in accordance with state regulations, have delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels less than 0.3 percent. THC is the active component in hemp that alters the brain’s functionality, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.
Before each harvest period, Stenuf said she must report the THC levels and other significant information about her plants to the DAM roughly 20 days before any harvesting could be completed and then, if approved, they have a total of 15 days to collect products.
“All of our plants must be tested by third-party labs approved by the state, ensuring the plants are well below the 0.3 percent threshold,” she said, noting how her plant’s THC levels were nearly “nonexistent” when compared to commonly consumed marijuana plants.
According to an email Stenuf provided to The Palladium-Times, which appears to come from DAM officials, Ananda Farms was granted conditional approval to offer the new service due to “anticipated compliance” with required state regulations.
Throughout the course of the year leading up to her first you-pick operation, Stenuf plans to continue the rigorous testing of her plants for levels of THC, herbicides, pesticides, or fungi.
In addition to the you-pick operation, Stenuf said the new 20-acre space would also host a kids area, educational areas, and a storefront allowing for direct sales to the consumers.
For more information visit www.anandafarmsny.com or their Facebook page.