How this Oak Cliff family started growing legal hemp in Texas

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March 6, 2020

Hemp cultivation became legal in Texas in 2019.

In December of that year, Eddie and Martha set a date to quit their jobs.

Eddie had trained in Colorado and on a generational tobacco farm in North Carolina that was converted to hemp.

Family members agreed to let them use 2 acres of hewn land from a large hunting ground they own in Brady to prove their concept.

They cashed in Eddie’s retirement and part of Martha’s and started their business with an initial investment of $ 200,000.

In January 2020, they started clearing raw land to build the farm from scratch.

That is, digging trenches and bringing electricity and water to the site, then constructing greenhouses and the facility for drying and pruning the hemp flowers.

Eddie’s last day of work was on the cusp of the coronavirus, March 6, 2020. But the timing meant they ended up taking no penalties for early retirement due to post-retirement relief. pandemic.

“We had already planned to find ourselves without a job, so it worked out pretty well,” he says.

Their greenhouse was completed in March 2020 and their first “clones”, cuttings from cannabis plants, were planted in April.

They started to grow while continuing to build.

Along with all of this, they were walking a very straight line with state regulations, which is lifelong learning.

“You are dealing with cannabis, so they want to make sure that you comply and that you follow their regulations, and if you do not comply with their regulations, they destroy your crop,” says Eddie. “And then there’s all the work you just did for four or five months.”

Townspeople

As soon as their first harvest arrived, they started their retail business.

The first harvest and the first pruning – when the leaves are removed from the flowers – brought three generations of family members from both sides to the farm in October 2020.

“So we wanted to call it ‘Oak Cliff’, because that’s where we all come from. We’ve all been through the bad things and the turmoil with marijuana, but we want to show that it can be done right, ”Eddie said. “And you can be from Oak Cliff and do it the right way.”

That’s not to say it went without disappointment.

Power to the farm was cut off during the winter storm in February, about two weeks before their second harvest, and all crops died.

The pipes burst and the pumps broke. They lost their “mother plants” from which they had planned to continuously multiply crops.

This represented an actual loss of approximately $ 35,000 and a retail loss of approximately $ 100,000.

All the equipment was covered by insurance, but since cannabis is still in a gray area nationwide, the plants were not.

“Now we know we need to prepare better for winter than we normally don’t have in Texas,” says Martha. “We weren’t prepared.

They bought some seeds and started over.

Their third harvest took place in October.

A cash crop

Oak Cliff Cultivators packs their dried and dried flowers and produces their own pre-rolled joints using unbleached paper.

An Austin manufacturer makes its gumballs and oils, and Oak Cliff Cultivators is partnering with another Texas producer to make vape cartridges.

All packaging is child resistant and indicates intended for persons 21 years of age and over. The couple are working with a lawyer to make sure the messages comply with state regulations.

“Our brand is not about getting high,” says Martha. “It’s a question of health and well-being.

Because of this, “you won’t find it at a gas station,” she says. Products can be found in approximately seven stores in the Dallas area, including Davis Street Mercantile and Brumley Gardens.

They won “Best Flower”, “Highest CBD” and awards in six of nine categories at the Taste of Texas Hemp Cup last December. Now all other hemp growers are looking for them in this post-harvest season of conventions, conferences and competitions.

Every weekend, Martha attends markets and events, teaching anyone curious about the differences between the types of legal cannabis in Texas: CBD, CBG, and Delta 8. She tells them about cannabinoids and terpenes and how various elements might comfort what is distressing them. .

Eddie likens CBG to a vitamin. It doesn’t contain THC, the chemical in marijuana that gets you high, and it can be taken every day for stress relief, inflammation and sleep, depending on the strain.

CBD is like an aspirin, he says. It can contain up to 1% THC, but it doesn’t get you high. Take it when the pain or other ailments are acute, he says.

Delta 8 gumballs are mixed with CBD, which counteracts the racy effect of this substance.

Martha says she was reluctant to wear the Delta 8 because it causes a high. But then she learned that veterans find it helpful for PTSD and it’s good for pain, she says.

Oak Cliff Cultivators started their own bimonthly market at Oak Cliff Brewing Co. with the Sour Grapes art collective, in part because some markets haven’t warmed up to hemp sellers.

Eddie and Martha are a perfect fit for this business, even though they had no farming or retail experience.

He figured out how to build things and run a farm. She runs the retail business and likes to follow all kinds of metrics. They are both very determined to keep adding products – a balm is next – and growing all aspects of their business.

“I think we’ve been doing really well in the last year in business,” says Martha.

A family matter

Meanwhile, they’re just raising their family in Oak Cliff.

Their two children, Esme, 6, and Ethan, 9, are students at Winnetka Elementary School and have never experienced the negative side of cannabis, Martha says. The Velezes also have 14 and 15 year old nieces, and being on the farm and around the business, she has the opportunity to teach them about the endocannabinoid system.

“They only see it as medicine,” she says.

Other parents were suspicious, but Martha and Eddie managed to win everyone over with their open communication on the subject.

Eddie’s dad was released from jail in his senior year. He is now a truck driver and they have a relationship again.

Eddie’s mother, Debra, says she never doubted her son could start his cannabis business.

“When Eddie started doing that, I thought he would be the perfect person because he would be legitimate and by the book and by the rules,” she says. “Eddie is structured. He is straight and narrow.

She feels lucky to have been able to work in making draperies for interior designers and clothing for large clients like Units, based in Deep Ellum, as well as wedding dresses and quinceañera. There were people who had worse.

She started working at a school about 20 years ago and is nearing retirement. She lives with her youngest son, Felipe, who is a welder. She spends a lot of time with her grandchildren and thinks she will start sewing again to earn more money.

The problems that marijuana has caused her family is not something she wants to talk about.

“It’s behind me,” Debra says. “It happened. I was taking care of my kids. It kept us together, and I don’t think about it. It caused us problems and for my kids with no father, but we did.


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