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Pumpkins and apples aren’t the only fall produce you may pick yourself in Johnson County this season.

Pick-your-own hemp is now available in rural Oxford — at least for a few weekends — at one of Iowa’s hemp farms. Hundreds of people came to Carriage House Hemp Farm on September 18 and 19, where hemp farmer Mark Wright assisted them in clipping and bagging the appropriate flower buds to take home. Another pick-your-own weekend was just scheduled.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette said that “people stop here all the time and ask inquiries.”

So, he reasoned, why not let them choose it?

Carriage House is one of the first hemp farms in Iowa to expose the beautiful green plants to the public for personal harvesting, in addition to being one of the few hemp farms producing cannabigerol strains instead of cannabidiol.

“As far as I’m concerned, that’s the only pick-your-own farm I’m aware of,” said Robin Pruisner, state entomologist and state hemp administrator for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. “People are thinking about all the ways to make this work since it’s such a novel crop (to Iowa).” I’ve yet to see anybody else accomplish it.”

Pruisner’s work requires her to travel throughout the state to farms like Wright’s to test for THC levels, which is required of hemp growers before they can harvest or sell their crop. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that gives you a buzz.

Hemp levels in Iowa must be less than 0.3 percent THC. When a crop becomes “too hot,” it’s classified as marijuana and must be destroyed. This month, Wright’s hemp had a THC content of 0.096 percent.

“One of the reasons we chose CBG was because of this.” “I don’t believe there are many individuals that do it,” Wright remarked. “With THC, (CBD) is likely to become excessively heated.”

According to Pruisner, approximately 20% of hemp harvests will have to be destroyed in 2020 due to high THC levels. This year, none of the ten tests have failed so far, but harvest season is only getting started.

Pruisner said, “Some important lessons were acquired.”

Farmers, in particular, understood the value of testing throughout the season to determine the best time to harvest.

With its special characteristics, CBG also demands a premium price, according to Wright. Despite the fact that only about a fifth of the visitors over the weekend bought hemp flower to take home, he said many of them departed with questions addressed, which hemp growers hope would spread across the community.

During the inaugural pick-your-own weekend, Wright said he was shocked by the attendance and the kinds of individuals who were most interested in the product.

“What shocked me is that the individuals I thought would be the most difficult to persuade are people like myself — maybe older and more suspicious,” he added. “There are a number of people who are really excited.”

CBG farmer Megan Booher, Wright’s daughter who grows hemp and sells CBG-infused goods from neighboring Four Winds Farm in Homestead, calls cannabigerol the “mother of all cannabinoids.”

CBG, she said, offers fast-acting advantages because it binds directly to the body’s endocannabinoid system, as opposed to CBD, which is by far the most popular option among Iowa producers.

Carriage House’s flower, which costs $10 per ounce, may be dried and infused into oil, butter, alcohol, vinegar, or water according to the farm’s directions. CBG buds that have been trimmed may retail for up to $75 per ounce, according to Wright.

The majority of the flower gathered from the former Oxford Public Works director’s tiny field, where he used to grow vegetables, will be transported to a Wisconsin firm to be converted into CBG oil.

Booher’s farm concentrates on infusing goods to sell directly to customers online and at farmers markets — soap, massage oil, lotion, body salve, and face cream — but she’s thrilled to see the potential development with the pick-your-own model her father is experimenting with.

“Something happened in 2019 that is still haunting the market.” “When you look at the country as a whole, the 2019 harvest was projected to be 550 percent bigger than the previous year,” she said. “However, processing capacity and customer demand did not follow the same path.”

In the case of hemp, this resulted in a significant supply-demand imbalance, which the market is currently adapting to. According to Pruisner, the number of hemp growing permits granted by the state has decreased from 85 in 2020 to 50 so far this year.

“What matters is that they have to economically convert it into consumer products that people will continue to buy,” she added, describing Booher’s farm as a “real template” for growing a great crop and selling it within Iowa’s legal limits.

Although the state does not keep track of whether hemp farmers grow for CBD or CBG, the Iowa hemp administrator estimated that CBD was much more popular. Though CBG is growing popularity, it is still a small part of the industry.

The good elements of CBG were what drew Booher to it in the first place. Though hemp growers are not allowed to sell or advertise any medicinal or pain-relieving effects from CBG, packaging may include terms like “easing” or “soothing.”

“CBG restores equilibrium and well-being to the user on a cellular level,” she said. “At farmers markets, we give them a taste and then they come back an hour later to buy it.”

Wright became a believer after having a positive encounter with it after suffering pain.

He said, “It doesn’t give you a rush; it settles you down.”

And with a product that won’t show up on a drug test, Booher believes CBG may help bring hemp and cannabis into the mainstream in Iowa.

“People are learning a bit more every time they come to visit us now that we have an industry in the state,” she added. “I believe it is assisting in the reduction of that stigma.”

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