KITTREDGE — An Evergreen resident is bringing a new business to the area: hemp farming.
Brady Bell is operating Ambary Gardens out of the old Evergreen Nursery at 26479 Highway 74 in Kittredge, with the help of owner Steve Cohen. The greenhouses there will be used to grow medical-grade hemp plants for cultivation of cannabidiol, or CBD oil, an extract being used to treat a number of chronic illnesses.
The business will not be a retail operation open to the public, but Bell said they plan to do plenty of outreach to educate the community about what they are doing and why.
“We’re trying to raise awareness and bridge the gap, sharing the differences between (marijuana) and hemp,” Bell said.
Hemp does not have high levels of THC that give recreational marijuana its psychoactive properties. Legislation passed in Colorado in 2013 and revised in 2014 allows the cultivation of hemp as long as it contains a very low level of THC.
Bell said he moved to Colorado in 2011 to become involved in the medical marijuana industry. His focus changed when he started to meet people with stories of finding significant help from CBD oil and he wanted to be a part of that.
“I would hear stories and there were a couple stories that really touched me,” he said. “I started to realize I was in the wrong area of the business but with the right idea.”
That is why the main focus of Ambary Gardens is to produce hemp for CBD oil, which has been used to treat children with severe seizure disorders. Bell said he also has close friends who are veterans and has seen CBD oil help them deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Bell is also planning a side of the business called Ambary Farms, which will be geared toward the industrial hemp market, for products from beauty products to fiber. However, the primary focus is finding more locations for growing his hemp and building partnerships that will help get CBD oil to the people who need it.
“Our goal is to link up with pharmaceutical companies that have patents and science that goes along with what we’re doing,” he said.
Bell said he did not expect to spread the word about his business so soon, but the nursery is on a well-traveled road and rumors started to fly. When he posted on a community Facebook page announcing what he was doing, the response he got surprised him.
“I was really overwhelmed and humbled by all the support our community has offered,” Bell said. “It showed me there is an understanding between the difference between the plants and shows there is a need and a want of it.”
Still, he plans to host a community meet-and-greet soon to address any concerns or curiosities neighbors have. It’s something Duane Sinning recommends. He handles the state’s hemp program as assistant director of the division of plants for the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
“A vast majority of our registrants are concerned about doing it right and contact us asking ‘How do we make sure the community is involved? How do we make sure they know we are not marijuana?’ ” Sinning said.
He estimates that this year Colorado will see between 1,200 and 1,400 acres of hemp planted, which is 1,000 more than were planted last year. He said seeds are becoming more available and revised legislation in 2014 made it easier to produce hemp indoors.
Jeanie Rossillon, director of development and transportation for Jefferson County, said that hemp is not something discussed on the marijuana advisory board on which she serves with the county.
“We don’t know how much there is in Jefferson Count and we don’t have any outreach because it’s regulated by the state department of agriculture,” she said.
Josie Klemaier: 303-954-2465, email@example.com or twitter.com/JosieKlemaier
For more information
Contact Brady Bell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-717-7706