Welcome to the oHHo Croptober Harvest Diary!
Every October hemp farmers around the world reap the fruits of their crops during the annual harvest, hence the name “Croptober.”
This month, our quest to work with artisanal small-batch farmers who grow the best plants on the planet lead us to Vermont and the luscious rolling hills of Green Mountain Grown, an industrial hemp farm owned and operated by Dennis Kulesza.
Dennis is the human embodiment of everything that oHHo stands for–sustainability, integrity, quality & passion. All of which is evident in the unparalleled high-quality organic hemp plants and CBD that Dennis grows and produces for oHHo. We were lucky to have Dennis let us shadow him for the day, mid-harvest, to give us a behind-the-leaves peek at what makes his process and product so special.
But before we dive into the six specific steps of the harvest, we need a quick French 101 vocab lesson, as that’s where the entire growing journey begins:
Terroir: A French term used to describe the complete natural environment in which a particular plant is cultivated (most commonly used in reference to wine), including factors such as the soil, topography and climate. To simplify – terroir is the unique combination of earth, air, water and soil that creates “the taste of the place.”
The terroir of the Green Mountain Grown property is unmistakable and washes over you the moment you pull into the farm’s driveway. From its positioning on a hill that allows for even sun distribution, to the natural spring and pond that is used for crop irrigation, to the soil that boasts an incredible 6% organic matter composition (the average is 2%), the land is nothing short of magical.
Without further ado, here are the six steps of Dennis’s Croptober harvest celebration:
Step 1: GROWING
The Green Mountain Grown farm starts its process with the best genetics in the industry, using non-GMO hemp qualified seeds from world-renowned industrial hemp seed producer Oregon CBD. All of Dennis’s seeds are germinated in his USDA certified greenhouse. USDA certification is no easy feat to obtain – Dennis had to fill out a 50-page application form and meet strict requirements to get this certification. His practices are organic and sustainable, and Dennis utilizes state of the art equipment and infrastructure to produce top of the line plants. He’s constantly researching and innovating, to make sure he is ahead of the curve and utilizing best practices for his farm. And don’t forget the terroir!
Step 2: HARVESTING
Dennis and his harvesting team are a family affair. Fathers and daughters, life partners and friends, they all chip in to hand-trim the thousands of plants found on the farm’s 50 sprawling acres. The harvesting team is up before dawn, removing the fan leaves from the plants and selecting the best place to cut the stalks from the plant, to prep them for machine processing. Any part of the plant that is cut and discarded in the field is left there, to return to the soil, regenerating and giving back the nutrients to the earth.
Step 3: BUCKING
Once the plants are brought into the farm house from the fields, the next step is bucking. Also known as de-budding or de-stemming, bucking is the process of removing the flowers and leaves from the hemp stalk. Dennis’s team carefully feeds the stalks through the bucking machine, outfitted in chem suits for total cleanliness and purity of the process.
Step 4: TRIMMING
The flower that has been stripped from the stalk during bucking is then processed through a trimming machine, which removes the longer excessive leaves and stems, to allow for a more uniform curing process and to help ensure the bud will dry evenly. Dennis and his team are onsite carefully operating the machines the entire time – no one is afraid to get down on the floor and get dirty while changing a blade, to ensure that the process is as perfect as possible.
Step 5: DRYING
The drying at Green Mountain Grown occurs in an insulated, ventilated and humidity-controlled barn (which Dennis himself restored and designed for over a decade), to create the optimum environment for producing a consistently high quality dried and trimmed flower. Most hemp plants that are harvested in the Northeast are hung up to dry in old drafty, dirty barns, that previously housed livestock…a recipe for a health disaster, as this method promotes bacteria growth, mold and plant degradation.
Never one to be satisfied with the status quo, Dennis spent months researching best drying practices – which took him all the way to a hemp farm in Canada – where he was inspired to devise his own innovative drying method using what can only be described as drying bunk beds, lined with wedding lace. His process keeps the buds clean and mold-free, as they uniformly dry with no chance of contamination. The total dry time for his flower is approximately 7 days from when the plants were brought in from the field.
Step 6: PACKAGING
Last but not least, Dennis’s USDA organic certified flower is lovingly cured in vacuum sealed USDA food quality nitrogen infused bags. Each bag receives a bar code, which traces back to the third-party certified laboratory certificate of analysis (COA) that quantifies the percentage of cannabinoids and terpenes in the product, and also guarantees a chain of custody from the seed to the shelf, promising accountability from production to sale to consumer usage. The use of the nitrogen infused bags ensures that the Green Mountain Grown flower has a shelf life of two years or more, and also helps eliminate any potential damage during shipping. Unsurprisingly Dennis is the only grower in the Northeast using this technology.
And that concludes the harvest process – from there it comes to us at oHHo where we transform the flower into our delicious and convenient CBD Pre-Rolls.
In truth, it feels almost sacrilegious to condense Dennis’s process into such a short diary. His harvest is all-encompassing, with he and his team working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, until all of the oHHo plants are brought in for processing. It’s grueling work, but they all do it with a smile on their face and a tremendous amount of love.
To bring it all back to the terroir, where our journey began – after meeting Dennis and experiencing his harvest, we feel the need to amend the conventional definition of terroir and add an element: heart. Dennis and his heart, soul and dedication to growing our plants, is as much a part of the environment as the golden sunshine that nourishes his crops, and the cool mountain breeze that blows through at 4pm every day. And because of that, we know that we will never find a harvest or product like his. It is our distinct and divine pleasure to bring this to you in our Pre-Rolls.