Freestone Farms CBD has been producing high-quality organic hemp flower and CBD in South Jersey to prepare for an adult-use cannabis license.
“Nothing we feed our plants is synthetic,” Director of Cultivation and Chief Research Officer Gabe Toth said.
He explained their inputs are OMRI certified, which is an organic certification. Toth said their eight acres of hemp fields consist of 14,000 plants which are extremely large for a cannabis flower farm. The company was launched three years ago.
“I’m Jersey born and raised,” Toth explained. He went to Rutgers University in New Brunswick and received his law degree from Rutgers Camden, and went out west, where he worked on licensed cannabis farms owned by some friends. He then returned to New Jersey when hemp and CBD were legalized in 2018 to launch a hemp business. Toth now resides in Cherry Hill in Camden County.
Yoon is a Korean American born in Bethlehem, PA, and raised in California who went to Drexel University in Philadelphia. Yoon met Toth when he was an undergrad since he had a mutual friend as a roommate. After returning from the 82nd Airborne and 2nd Infantry Division as an infantry scout, they reconnected.
Chief Production Officer Tim Benasutti grew up in Ardmore, PA, and Philadelphia. He now lives in Southampton in Burlington County and has been a long-time owner of Cyprus Creek Construction. Toth worked with Benasutti on large-scale digital media installations in retail stores when they all decided to form a hemp company after noticing a legalization bill fail by just one vote.
They noted synthetic fertilizer poisons soils. As an organic-input farm, they have developed healthy soil with good bacteria, which results in significantly stronger flower with a much higher terpene content. However, it’s labor-intensive and difficult to scale.
“We are growing for quality here, and the average corn farmer is growing for quantity and nothing but,” Yoon said.
Among Freestone Farms’ products are quality flower sold in quarters, eighths, pre-rolls in glass tubes, CBD oils, and simple syrups (Use the code “HeadyNJ” to save 20%!)
While their focus is quality hemp flower at the moment, they have a line of gummies in the works.
Freestone Farms prides itself on the nature of the terpenes found in their flower. In their last harvest, they grew seven hemp strains with some as high as 24.1 percent CBD and 2 percent terpenes.
“We use confident cannabis COA (Certificates of Analysis) from Trichome (Analytical Labs),” Yoon explained. “We’re very transparent about the quality of our flower and what you’re getting. Our terpene content does score high compared to our competitors.”
He explained they are fully transparent and backed by data.
“You will not find CBD with a terpene content that approaches ours. We open a jar and it pretty much sells itself after that,” Yoon said.
“If you have strains that are quality and are grown with quality, you’re going to be able to tell it just with the look and smell of our flower,” Toth said. “It doesn’t have to be tasteless gas station CBD.”
Their organic plot in Greenwich near Bridgeton in Cumberland County consists of eight acres of hemp.
“You can’t just spray pesticide on this crop,” Toth said. “You have to interrupt their feeding and breeding. It’s a much more holistic approach. And it’s much more difficult to ad hoc.”
He noted that addressing the issue differs from field to field depending on the specific insect problem encountered.
“You’re betting so much, and if you make a mistake, you see the immediate financial impact,” Toth said. “Even one missed day could be tens of thousands of dollars.”
Yoon noted the need for workers instead of machines to break down the larger plants since they can also spot mold.
“That’s something a robot couldn’t do,” he said.
Hemp crops with too much THC, known as “hot crops,” were a problem initially.
“We know farmers that lost 9 of 10 crops,” Toth said. “The state average was a 50% loss to mold, pests and high THC last year.” He said they have been able to minimize their loss to less than 10%. Their crop is tested three times before they harvest it to prevent it from going hot.
“Even before you’ve harvested, you’ve paid the state thousands of dollars for testing,” Toth said.
He said it was worth it since their quality flower makes lifelong customers.
Yoon noted they put content on their Instagram platform @freestonefarms showing how they manage their fields and care for the plants. They also put out a lot of information on their Facebook page.
Seeking Adult-use Cannabis Licenses
Freestone Farms CBD has also partnered with a group of friends, who are prominent African American attorneys in the NJ legal community, to form another company to seek both cultivation and manufacturing adult-use cannabis licenses.
Ultimately they aim to build a recreational cannabis company focused on advancing its social equity initiatives and investing in communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. They’ve called it Grow Equity Ventures.
“We applied and are expecting our license for GEV fairly soon,” Toth said. “We hope to move to the rec space very soon,” Toth said.
They were very hopeful.
We’re a diverse applicant, and our model is genuinely committed to advancing social equity. We’re hiring local, using local union labor for our build-out, and donating a portion of our proceeds to funds devoted to advocating for social equity.” Yoon added.
“On top of that, our entry-level positions are planned at $20 an hour or more with full benefits. We’re going to stop the high turnover rate larger facilities have. People have to be comfortable at work and at home, or the business will suffer.” Benasutti concluded.
The third round of licenses is likely forthcoming from the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission.
“We’re happy to educate,” Toth said. “People don’t know about this stuff. They don’t even know what CBD is and how it pertains to cannabis.”
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