The first seed of Ned was quite literally planted in Paonia, an incredible farming community nestled in the North Fork Valley on Colorado's Western Slope. In the heart of Paonia, nestled along the North Fork Gunnison River, you’ll find a small organic and biodynamic farm run by salt of the earth folks who do every last thing right. Welcome to the world’s best USDA certified organic hemp farm – and the birthplace of all Ned hemp.
Jonathan’s family farm is the only farm we source from – and we insist on paying above market value for his crop. You see, if we didn’t, such high quality organic farming practices based on impeccable farming principles just wouldn’t be sustainable for him and his family. This way, he can continue growing the world’s best hemp and we can continue bringing it to you. Quality products are built on quality relationships and we’re better when we grow together. Find out what goes into growing the world’s best hemp in this month-by-month guide.
Know your farmers, they’re probably awesome!
SPRING ON THE FARM
Spring is a great time on the farm. Everything comes to life and excitement is in the air. Seeds are being ordered, materials are being purchased. It's time to put away the winter gear and strap on the work boots!
March is when we put together the plan for the season. This is when we get the greenhouse prepared to start the seeds that will eventually go into the fields. If it's possible, we will do some field work but weather is often fickle this time of year. If we didn't plant a cover crop in the fall then this is when we will do so. The cover crop is an essential part of the organic system and adds an abundance of nutrients to the soil that will improve the hemp crop that follows as well as the overall soil health on the farm.
April is when things really pick up around here. The middle of April is when we start all of the hemp plants from seed. This is done in our 1,800 square foot greenhouse where we have better control of the elements. Warm days are often followed by freezing nights and the greenhouse is essential to raise the plants in a protected environment. Although we like the idea of an automated watering system we have found the most consistent results with hand watering which happens several times a day until the end of May / beginning of June.
May is when we do most of the field preparation. This involves some tractor work, plowing, tilling and bed making. One thing we like to do is make big raised beds out of the loose soil. The plants really seem to like having that loose soil to grow in. This is also when we get all the irrigation infrastructure in place for the season. Here in Western Colorado we use good clean water that has come down from the mountains around us to water the crop. The water comes to us in a ditch that is diverted from the river and that we have rights to. We then harness the water in a large pond that we then pump out of and filter down so it can be run through drip irrigation or micro sprinklers. We are able to water 10,000 plants with the flip of a switch. The plants will be in full swing at this point. There is rapid growth at this stage as they transition from seedlings to small plants. This is when we implement a feeding program for the plants as well. This basically means giving them organic plant foods to aid in their growth. The hemp plant is a heavy feeder and it's amazing to watch them respond to all the attention they get. Usually by the end of May we are ready to put all the plants from the greenhouse out into the field. The last frost date is June 1 but if weather permits we will get out there and start planting earlier.
SUMMER ON THE FARM
After planting, summer becomes a time of observation, problem solving, and maintenance. I'd like to say that we just kick back and watch the plants grow but that’s not usually the case. The hemp plant goes through a long vegatative growth then begins to flower in August and into the fall. Certain needs have to be met during each phase and knowing when and how to meet those needs is one of the great challenges a farmer faces.
June is when the plants go into the ground. All of the preparations that have been made in the spring come together for one purpose: getting the plants into the field. We have a formula for this that is ever evolving, and as long as everything is in place, the transition will go well.
July is when the plants experience rapid growth. The field seems to change daily and things really take shape. This is when we encourage lots of growth as bigger plants yield more flowers. We like to see them big, green and healthy as they head into the flowering stage where they begin to focus their energy on producing the resinous rich flowers that contain all the life enhancing properties we have come to appreciate.
August is the month of plant maintenance, monitoring, and fixing. This really is the time to appreciate the field as there is nothing quite like standing in a field of flowering hemp. This is also about the time when we start to prepare for the September harvest. The harvest is truly epic and we maintain a strict tolerance on how the hemp flower is dried, cured and processed. We really strive to preserve the essence of the plant which translates to a super high quality product that eventually makes its way into many of Ned’s products.
FALL ON THE FARM
Fall is go time! All of the year's work comes to fruition in the fall. No two seasons are the same and the formula for a successful crop is ever changing. Even if we play our part perfectly, there are factors that are out of our control. Soon we will reap what we have sown!
September is the beginning of harvest. A lot of hemp cultivars don't finish until October and beyond. The varieties we grow are selected for their incredible aromas and flavor profile but they are also known as “early finishers”. This is a major advantage to us in this geographic location. The weather in October and November can be fickle here in Colorado with the threat of freezing temperatures and precipitation. The ability to harvest mature hemp flowers in September is a huge benefit and part of our strategy.
After the plants are brought in from the field they are hung up in one of our drying spaces. After the material is dried to the right moisture content, the flowers are stripped from the plant and put into food grade containers to be taken to the extractor. This part of the process takes great care as we really strive to preserve the essence of the plant. Environmental factors like U.V. and heat can degrade the compounds contained in the flower that give it its potency, flavor, and aromas. This process of curing the flower is something that separates us from a lot of other farms. An exceptional crop deserves an exceptional finish. This high standard of quality is found from seed all the way to Ned's finished product, which is one reason why we continue to work so well together, a shared vision.
November is when we are wrapping up the harvest and beginning the fall cleanup. There are lots of things to be done and though they may seem trivial after the harvest, they are necessary tasks that when done properly will set us up for a good start in the following spring. These jobs include spreading cover crops, winterizing irrigation infrastructure, breaking down and cleaning equipment and taking soil tests to determine soil fertility and soil needs for the following season. There is generally a more relaxed atmosphere during this time as we know that the hardest part is behind us, we have done our best, and the fruits of our labor are in the good hands of Ned, to be shared with the world.
WINTER ON THE FARM
Winter on the farm is QUIET. Now that the dust has settled, we are able to assess the previous season as well as make plans for the next. There is plenty of maintenance to be done on all of our equipment that we have been using. We always look forward to winter on the farm. The growing season is all consuming and we appreciate the slower pace and more time with the family. Time is measured by how many days we spend on the ski slopes as opposed to in the hemp field. The woodstove cranks non-stop and we find time to reflect on the past and dream for the future.
December is when we take soil samples to determine soil health and the needs for the next crop. A little bit of knowledge here goes a long way. The formula evolves, the techniques are refined, and we build upon what we have started.
January is when we make plans and think about our effort at being more sustainable as a farm. It has become increasingly clear that the more in-house and on-farm we are, the more healthy and sustainable the farm is. In a time where supply chain, freight and delivery issues are more common, the obvious solution is to create farm health right here on the farm.
February is when we create our own plant fertilizers, yet another way we hope to achieve farm health while becoming more self reliant. Although we have been doing this to an extent, we are committed to embracing these methods and perfecting them. Certain plant species have amazing nutritional and biological properties that when extracted or fermented, act as supercharged fertilizers. By growing and or wildcrafting these plants we will be able to harness their energy and fulfill the needs of the hemp crop as well as the soil health as a whole. Again, it's part of the farm circle, plants feeding plants, animals feeding the soil, a family nurturing the land which in turn will provide for us and the many people that have come to benefit from the power of hemp.
100% COLORADO MADE — AND PROUD OF IT!
What's on the ingredient list of a product is vital, but *how* those ingredients were grown and produced also has a profound effect on us. We believe medicine can come from the earth and be grown with love and intention. It can be cultivated with care for the land, with wisdom passed down through the centuries, and with new knowledge added to that wisdom thanks to modern research. It's about the tangible chemical properties of the ingredients, but it's also about the energy of the plants, the mountain streams that watered them, the rich soil that nourished them, the hands that planted them, and how they can connect us to nature so we can rediscover how to heal and even thrive.