The San Luis Valley. Largest alpine mountain valley in the world. The size of Massachusetts with just 46,000 people. Rich cultural heritage. It’s where Colorado began. Although economic stats are among the lowest in America, there is a strong sense of community. Rimmed with rugged mountain peaks and dominated by big blue skies.
Farming is where we shine. Generations of innovative farmers have learned how to grow at high altitude, with very little water and soil that needs enriching. From large scale potato and barley operations, to many small farms that thrive collaboratively, to the oldest and largest quinoa farms outside of the Andes, to whole tiny communities that still use the ancient acequia form of irrigation.
Onto this stage, hemp enters, in 2014 when Colorado became one of the first to approve growing it. Farmers quickly saw the benefits of this plant and began the learning process. Every gathering to discuss hemp was dominated by farmers. Perfect rotation crop. Nourishes the soil. Little water usage. Naturally controls weeds. Huge market potential. What’s not to love.
Growers were lined up, but it’s understood growth can’t exceed the development of the industry. Processing and markets must be in place. The historical trend of shipping raw agricultural product from the San Luis Valley to places far beyond for processing and creating value added products needs to be avoided this time so the people of the Valley can benefit more fully all aspects of an industry.
The San Luis Valley Hemp Company was created by farmers to help farmers solve these issues. Two highly experienced potato and barley farmers, Shanan Wright and Dion Oakes, decide to focus on the farming end and partnered with farmer Monte Robertson who had a vision to develop processing and create packaged end products for market. Together they are pioneers of the early adopters in the young industry.
The overarching goal is boiled down to one word: health. Farming that is healthy for the earth and developing products that are healthy for the people and animals that inhabit it.
Farm to Health, From Seed To Self
Hemp Circle on Wright-Oakes Farms, 2017
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