Each February we like to highlight a Hemp History Maker for Black History Month. Last year, we talked to Oneal Latimore who is making Hemp History in Pennsylvania. This year we wanted to highlight someone from Florida who is making Hemp History in our community.
Of course, my friend and licensed hemp farmer Alexia Taylor of Turf Origins came to mind. We met Alexia and her husband, Harry, when they visited Treadwell Farms to learn more about hemp farming in Florida. Alexia’s focused questions and follow through really stood out. As we got to know each other better I have really come to appreciate Alexia’s creativity and care in growing hemp as well as incorporating Hemp/CBD into her business.
Interview with Alexia
It has been a real pleasure collaborating and helping her develop and grow her business through hemp/CBD. I had a chance to sit down and interview Alexia to learn more about how she has integrated hemp/CBD products into her business, launched the Turf Origins CBD brand, and how her first year as a hemp farmer and entrepreneur has been. I hope you enjoy learning more about Alexia as I did!
How did you decide to get involved in hemp farming?
My family has always been farmers in Guyana so I have had an interest in continuing on as a farmer. We grow hemp as well as many other fruits and vegetables at Turf Origins 7.5 acre farm in Volusia County, Florida. When my mother was diagnosed with macular degeneration, and I began researching ways I could help, it became clear that CBD could benefit her. That really motivated me to research and get involved with hemp. Then when the pandemic happened it really became important to us to be more self-sustaining and I found I really enjoyed working with plants. Ultimately I left my job in civil engineering to focus on developing Turf Origins farm and figuring out how we could incorporate hemp/CBD into our other business, a restaurant/bar called Buster’s Bistro in downtown Sanford Florida.
How did you get started as a hemp farmer?
I did my research and found some articles on Treadwell Farms so I reached out to get some guidance on licensing and sourcing some hemp plants to get started. It was helpful to have someone who has grown hemp in Florida to ask questions. It was clear when I did my research that Treadwell Farms has expertise in growing hemp in Florida’s unique environment that would be beneficial.
What are you doing today?
I am continuing to refine my approach to hemp farming. I have worked hard to dial in my schedule of nutrients etc to make sure I get the most out of my plants. I’ve also had to work through dealing with pH, iron and calcium from my well water and have moved to R.O. water (reverse osmosis water). Hemp farming has taken some trial and error just like anything new, but we are moving in the right direction. We’ve added pigs and chickens to our farm and I am working on adding bees.
We’ve also launched our Turf Origins products, website and social media to get the word out about what we are up to. Working with my husband, Harry, who is the chef at Buster’s Bistro, we have introduced a CBD craft cocktail program and we actually garnish with fresh hemp leaves. We have worked closely with local law enforcement and FDACS to figure out how to allow smokable hemp use on our patio deck. So far our customers are really responding well to all of the CBD offerings and we have seen increases in our business as a result. I enjoy educating my customers about CBD and seeing them enjoy it.
What advice do you have for farmers or other business owners who are considering hemp/CBD?
My first advice is to go for it, you might be surprised at what you are able to accomplish. For example, when I first tried the Treadwell Farms Citrus Spice tincture, I thought it would be a great base for a drink like an Old Fashioned because it had the right notes to open up the flavor of the drink. That motivated me to experiment further to see what kind of unique craft cocktail combinations I can make for my customers to enjoy.
My second piece of advice is, when you are a farmer you have to learn that you may have a plan but it will always change as you deal with what the living plants need, the weather, etc. You really have to learn to go with the flow – plan but don’t get upset if plans change because the living plants need something different. I also tell people to start with what you are comfortable with, learn your lessons and then expand. There is plenty to learn and experiment with as you grow.
What are your plans for the future?
I am really thankful to work with my spouse, Harry, on Turf Origins and Busters Bistro. We make a great team because we each have strengths that complement one another. I love plants and making craft cocktails. He is a great chef so we would love to do a 6-7 course meal with CBD cocktail and food pairing. We also are looking forward to continuing to evolve our hemp farm and farm in general. We will be adding more animals to our 11 chickens, 2 pigs and 2 dogs and looking for ways to continue building this dream.For more information on Turf Origins please visit them at www.TurfOrigins.com or follow them on social media.