Guest Speaker

Hector Gerardo

Co-Founder SEAmarron Farmstead and E&G Community Builders

  1. Introduction

Hector Gerardo, co-founded SEAmarron Farmstead and E&G Community Builders. He built these two businesses with one thing in mind: building people power in BIPOC communities. Hector has dedicated his life to organizing youth, teaching them about power – the power they have individually and as a collective – and the power and potential of their communities. Throughout his career, food insecurity has been the preeminent issue to tackle. Hector is now building a multi-layered, long-term agenda to end food insecurity by farming and organizing communities to build power and reimagining a new food system centered around justice and equity. Hector has been committed to a greater understanding of the compliance and safety laws that govern the tri-state (CT,NY,NJ) area in the hemp cannabis industry. Hector has developed a protocol outlining relevant laws and regulations under all acts including but not limited to, the 2018 Farm Bill, Medical Compassionate Care Act, and the more recent MRTA S854 (NY) and Senate Bill 1201 (CT) legalizes cannabis use for adults in CT AND NYS.

For this morning we’ll talk about: 

1. Hector’s journey as BIPOC Hemp Farmer and advocate

2. Lack of manufacturing facilities

3. Fiber

4. Funding

  1. Getting to know the Guest Speaker

Hector Gerardo said,  I got into cannabis,  the cannabis industry, you could say was through podcasting. And that’s my, that’s my stage name. I say, freedom. So on the podcast, I go about freedom. And a lot of people in the industry. In the hemp or the marijuana industry, they know me by freedom. A lot of people know me as Hector, so that’s why they’re very cool. podcast is Blue Dream radio. So if anybody wants to go see the strain, blue dream, that was my favorite one. Back in the day, that’s when I started smoking. That’s why I named it after.

I wear many different hats. I’m a community activist. I come from a union background. So I’ve been, an activist in different spaces for a long time. So, the way I started in the industry was through podcasting. And since I’ve been organizing unions, I know the ins and outs of how to mobilize people to fight for a cause to, to be in the, to be a voice for the voiceless. So I’m used to leadership, development and training people. So the transition was kind of easy for me, because you have to be an advocate, to be in this industry, you cannot just be a business person or try to make money, you have to be an advocate, because the laws need to change. So we can push our movement forward. So you have to be an advocate, you have to be engaged in what’s going on in your district, in your city, in your state, in your town, wherever you are, you have to be engaged. So that’s how I got into it. I went through our podcast, Blue Dream radio, with my wife and I, because she’s the co-host. We decided not to talk about the lifestyle, we decided to talk about equity, and how the industry, from ham to marijuana and psychedelics is entrenched with racist laws. So we want to expose those, expose that and start those conversations. How can people of color BiPAC farmers BiPAC people in different communities can create generational wealth through these different tools through these industries that are popping up now to hemp marijuana. Basically, they put us in jail for it. A bunch of white people make billions of dollars now legalizing all over the place, and we’re still in jail for it and we’re being left out of the business. So for us, we wanted to expose that and through our packets, and then I started volunteering in different farms here in Connecticut because I live in Connecticut. And I have a farm myself, Connecticut, Sumatra. on farms that and I started volunteering in different farms. And then I decided, one day I can do this myself. So I started researching, how can I buy land? How can I acquire land? So I can do this myself and teach others how to do it. And, everybody wants to tell me before I got my farm, you crazy there’s people that’ve been farming cannabis and hemp for a long time you ‘re too late in the game? So when I hear those things, that’s a challenge for me. So I’m like, why do you try to tell me no, why do I have to go to the exit ancillary businesses, when I know that I can grow up if my grandparents are farmers, my wife, parents are farmers. So we have that in our DNA, why can I grow the hemp myself, and start my own business myself instead of volunteering and working for other people. And that’s how we started. To me when I hear the challenge somebody telling me no, you can do that. I’m gonna do it because I know I can do it well, and I know that I can learn and I know I can make something good out of it and teach people out of it. Because that’s our priority on our farm. Because we don’t grow hemp, we always say that hemp is one of the crops that we grow. So we grow vegetables, we got an aviary, we’re going to get some chickens and some goats soon. So we incorporate hemp because we are a regenerative farm. So we believe in regenerative

practices, we are farming and potassic land because a lot of these rooms that don’t, they don’t acknowledge the indigenous people that came before us because the land that you are farming on don’t belong to you, even though your name is or the day that for that piece of land do not belong to you belong to indigenous people. So that’s why we always pay homage to those people, because this is necessary. So we’re farming on stolen land. On three acres, we are farming on a quarter acre right now. So we have grown 300 plants for CBD right now. And now being involved, really involved in the industry. This is going to be my last year growing for CBD, I want to grow for fiber, I want to find land, anybody that’s in Connecticut, that wants to come up with me that have land that want to build some some good infrastructure and build some something good,, reach out to me because I’m looking for that to acquire more land or work with others. So we can grow hemp and fiber. So the way I started was I just decided one day when my wife was going to be farmers to pandemic it. We got to be sustainable, and why not buy land and do it?

  1. Challenges in Farming Aspect

Mandi Lynn Kerr asked a question: Touching on some of the real challenges, not just not just as the, ethnicity and the, bipoc cultural concept. What about also in the farming aspect, being new and being boots on the ground and hands in the soil. Talk to me about some of the real challenges that you’ve seen, and now the number to overcome.

Hector Gerardo said, I mean, it’s just understanding the land. Again, this is our we’ve been farmers for a while, for about 810 years, but we were farming, urban farming. So we come from New York City. So we were farming on our fire escape. I used to be on the DL, I used to grow some I’d say there. So I’ve been a farmer, I went to Oaksterdam University to learn. I don’t know if you guys know what Oaksterdam University is, I’m putting the plug on their university, they are one of the first educational places for marijuana in Oakland. So they teach people how to grow weed. They teach them, they teach them the law, they teach them the ins and outs, they teach you how to be a grower. So I went over there to learn as much as I could. But learning how to do it and doing it are two different things, especially when you do it in an open field. So for me it grew in three acres. I didn’t know that deer like him. So I had 200 plants left and the deer ate it all. Now we put deer fencing all over because they weren’t getting there’s an archer, a few a few 100 feet away so they were getting drunk and high at the same time eating all the apples that were on the floor or the rotten apples. So for us, that was one of the challenges, we didn’t. No, we had to put the reference in we, we have a whole cloud, well, we never put it up. Because we were when we started was almost the end of the season. So we wanted to see what we could grow. So we planted it, and the deer ate it. So that was like one challenge for me, also irrigation, finding the right equipment to two water plants, because it’s easy when you do indoors and you’re doing like three plants for plants. And you take a cup and you water your plants, but when you do it to 200 plants, 300 plants, that it takes a lot of manual labor to do it one by one, spraying so you have to do the irrigation. So learning all these different things, because we didn’t know as much as we thought we knew. So we knew we had to learn with the land and had to learn as we go, but learning a lot and reading a lot of books are good. But again, you can read all you want, but once you are in it that’s what the challenge begins.

  1. The Transition 

Mandi Lynn Kerr asked and said, What’s the transition? you’re switching now from CBD, hemp for CBD to fiber production. What’s why? What was your aha moment?

Hector Gerardo said, I understand that. ‘ I’m a climate activist too. So I was in my past life, I was a climate organizer, a climate justice organizer and I was in the industry fighting for climate justice. And to me as a farmer is how we can talk about regenerative and without really being regenerated. So for me, even though CBD can regenerative create regenerative practices for land, I’d rather see that CBD is being saturated right now. There’s not a visible market for me and a viable market for me and the CBD. And I see that building materials and the animal feeds and different uses for the plant, you can take the route and turn it into tea if you have insomnia. So the innovation of hemp to me was the one that drove me away from CBD and go for the fiber and the building materials because you can do so much and you can help the earth and for me, it’s all about climate justice. How can we change the way we are going in the United States because other countries are already doing it. A lot of people that you have in this life are already talking about how other countries are moving forward with hemp and we are the ones still stuck with the concrete with the oil drilling, instead of using all the things that hemp can do. We are still stuck. So for me it’s like pushing that forward. That’s for me that was like the aha moment. If we’re talking about climate justice, we were talking about regenerative we got to use the whole plant and that’s why I’m moving away from even marijuana I don’t even want to be in the marijuana industry anymore because they might want to industry first it’s not for black people they so it’s already made up it’s not made for us. Oh the marijuana industry like right now Connecticut law we’re going to talk Connecticut because that’s where I’m at. There’s only two equity licenses and there’s like hundreds of applications coming in for two equity cultivation licenses. To me there’s a predatory to me they use equity very loosely. It’s just an algorithm about algorithms so to me that’s an algorithm word that people use in there just because they need some votes so that’s what they push it over here to equity license 1000s of people are going to apply you need millions of dollars in the bank and I’m not about that life I’m not gonna go to a business where it’s about longevity and the people that are already making money like the curaleaf Dara plan and all these big MSOs in the in the marijuana industry already have the longevity money I don’t have the money to compete they’re gonna they’re gonna bite me out.

Mandi Lynn Kerr commented and said, There’s a lot of red tape in the industry, right

Hector Gerardo said, So and for me, it was easier to get into the hemp industry like the USDA here in Connecticut, they want you to grow and like when I was filling out my application, I had a few mistakes but they kept calling me and they walked me through it. They said we want you to grow hemp and we’re going to help you ever however we can. So for me it was more welcoming. Hemp was more welcoming than the marijuana industry because it’s always that red tape you feel if you don’t have the money, the more money you got, the more Chances you gotta make it in the industry unless you are embedded with MSOs. Then we’ll tie state operators for people that don’t know. And Connecticut in the marijuana industry, and then I get to meet people like you guys in the hemp industry. So for me going to NoCo was like an eye experience to see all these different people, they’re doing this type of work, that is not being the hemp is still in its infancy and we’re not being, we don’t have the clout that marijuana has. And we need to get that, because this is the future, and we move in the future forward. That’s the only way for us to see a better tomorrow here in the United States.

  1. Sustainability in Marijuana Industry

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, so you said something earlier about sustainability in the marijuana industry and where your passion is around sustainability and regenerative agriculture, and better farming practices. What I’m learning about the marijuana industry is it is not sustainable. No, it’s not, it has its very footprint. Carbon footprint is pretty hefty.

Hector Gerardo  said, Yes,  I mean, and because when you do it indoors, and you have to have it, you send electricity. A lot of these big, big spaces don’t have solar panels, so they gotta use electricity. Some of them use gas. So you have a process of extraction, the process of extraction, all of it. Not to say that a man might not do that in the hemp industry. But I think that if we’re doing it right, I think that we have a lesser chance to create so much climate pollution as the marijuana industry.

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, well, especially the amount of biomass and the amount of carbon it’s been sequestered even above the ground.

Hector Gerardo said, That’s a big thing about the hemp farm and its carbon sequestration. So for me, it’s just, creating those opportunities because there’s a big conversation about carbon credits. So for me, I’m interested in it because I don’t know much about it. But, I’m learning as I go, why it’s important for us to start thinking about this type of strategies for farmers. That’s how you’re going to get farmers to grow, because one of the problems here in Connecticut is that they push, they push in hand, but we don’t have any process, especially for fiber, especially for seeds. We have a few extraction companies here in Connecticut for CBD. But there’s 97 hemp farmers in total, so you have to wait in line. So how can we start pushing these politicians, start pushing the USDA and start pushing people in the east coast as a whole, that we need processing that we need to build more and create more land available for fiber to be grown for with him and create processing because that’s what we lack. And that’s the fight that I have right now. I do some consulting, as well. So right now to search in 100 acres, upstate New York, and they want to go that route, they don’t want to grow CBD, they want to grow fiber, they want to do processing. So how can we bring the processing to the East Coast, because we need that. And that’s the plan, I’m organizing people around the East Coast, so we can start pushing that ball forward. Because we need processing here, there’s no point to push the hand, if we don’t have no processing, and we don’t have no market for it, because that’s the other side of the coin is that we can have the process and we can have the acreage of hemp but if we don’t have a market where people are buying it, and we’re not doing the demonstration, and teaching people that they need to move away from this all practices and and move towards him. And hemp doesn’t matter how much processing plants we have and how much acreage we grow. Because when farmers need money, at the end of the day, they need to see the viability of the crop that they are grown.

  1. Perspective as a farmer

Mandi Lynn Kerr asked a question: How have you thought about what from your perspective as a farmer, what would be the ideal layout of processing?

Hector Gerardo said, For me, is having the contracts ready?

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, And when I mean as far as like, do you set up silos like grain silos where people bring products in? Do you set up huge processing? Is it community based processing? Because then when we look at scalability for large contracts, we get a drive to the end market, right where what’s your perspective?

Hector Gerardo said, And I see we should create centralized places where people can go and create it and make it easier for people to drive their products to you or you pick it up, but haven’t for me. I live in Connecticut, right? So you have Waterbury, you have Bridgeport. Those were industrial cities that had industrial plants that were doing many different things, and now they’re abandoned. So even even on that aspect, you can rehabilitate a whole community, like Waterbury, like bridge, or if you bring someone in processing to those places, and turn those empty facilities into processing facilities for him, you can also create trade schools around him, how can you process and create something with the plant, because you have many different uses for the hemp plant, it’s not just building materials, you can do so much. So teaching this trade to our younger generation, because I’m also a youth organizer, I have a nonprofit in the South Bronx, I’m the executive director of one freedom for all. And we do every year one freedom for insecurity and end the school to prison pipeline, police preschool. So if you’re in New York and New Jersey and Connecticut, that our high schools, public high schools are flooded with police officers, and metal detectors that feel like they are in jail. So you can see an actual pipeline of them pushing our young people out to Jeff, integer out of schools integer, and a lot of our young people that we work with, and that’s one of the reasons why we are moving, changing some of our, some of our work into to gear towards cannabis is because a lot of the young people that we work with, they have been arrested for cannabis for smoking weed, and now they cannot go to college. Because once you have a record, you cannot get financial aid, you cannot get federal funding for your college. So for us, that’s a fight. So how can we teach our young people because everything about cannabis and hemp is the children? So how can we teach our young people a new tray, teaching about how to consume it at the right age and in the healthy ways and actually do some education for young people. So they can be part of the Doom industry that is for them. So for me, it’s like I’m leaving this stuff for the young generation, I have three kids. So for me, it’s leaving that for that. So how can we train our young people to learn a new trade? And you could do all of that through, creating these silos, these places where people can learn how to what their head plan is?

  1. Acreage or Farmland

Mandi Lynn Kerr asked a question, what is available acreage in your area? Like what is both bipoc acreage or farmland as well as available that is scalable?

Hector Gerardo said, Well, in Connecticut 98% of all farmland is owned by white people. Holy cow, really? So and that’s like, that’s just in Connecticut. But 95% I’m sorry. 95% of farmland in Connecticut is owned by white folks in the nation 98% of all farmland. And this is USDA. The USDA, they do every three years they do their census, and this is part of the 2017 census. 98% of all farmland is owned by white landowners. So like we don’t have 1% Of all farmers are black. So for me it’s like when we’re talking about farming as a whole, don’t that is hemp hemp not a lot of people’s growing hemp. Are we talking about farming, we don’t own anything. We are leasing. Or, if you are lucky you buy a quarter acre, we were lucky to buy three acres. We feel privileged, to be able to do that, because a lot of people don’t have that. But a lot of us farmers of color have to lease farm to be able to farm. And for us is that also as a farm as a whole is land access. How can we create more land access to BiPAC farmers that want to get into this trade because you still need the land to farm it. And we have the knowledge, don’t get it twisted. They brought slaves to this country for farming. That’s the only reason why they brought us here because they knew that we knew the farm are our black women when they were being brought over here. They put their seeds in their hair so they can transfer some of those seeds from their native land to the new world. So they brought us here for farming. So now we’ve been excluded from all facets of agriculture in this country.

  1. Solutions

Mandi Lynn Kerr follow up question: So what are some solutions? What are some suggestions on solutions, right? Especially every time you talk, it just feels like the smart commodities, climate smart commodities grant that’s coming out is really geared towards helping this problem, right or feeding, solutions. How do you roll that out? What do you suggest?

Hector Gerardo said, One solution base, I always point out the problem, but I’m always solution based. And to me, it’s like, again, it’s uniting, understanding the issue, and uniting and coming and having these conversations. And I might have some thoughts about it. But if we come together, and we create a unified front, and we create a unified solution that we all say we behind this, it doesn’t matter if you’re black and white, if you fit this criteria is if that you’ve been marginalized, that you’ve been oppressed by, messed up laws, because a lot of I have a lot of,, I have a lot of friends that have been arrested, and they’re waiting for cannabis to they fit the criteria, not all white people, have it easy. So, I understand that too I’ve traveled, I’m 38 years old, so I’ve traveled all over this nation organizing non union workers. So I went to Yakima, Washington, and trailer parks, and those people there, they needed the same thing that just, as soon as I broke that racism barrier, they just like regular people just like us, they need that. That’s how I understood money. So for us, the solution is, people going into their pockets to talk to their politicians, join as many different associations as you can join the global hemp Association, your tribe, create a, so that’s how you create solutions, go to your politicians call them and say we want this create new a new policy be part of the Democratic Party in your town. So you can start crafting new policies around him, I just, I just became part of the handbuilding association. So right now, they are, they are fighting with New York so they can include hemp free in the coding for building. So getting into that fight, like, pushing that, posting and few are reporting it since I started talking Okay, good. Yeah. Okay, keep doing what was the last? I don’t know what the last thing was. What solution for me also is to use these empty buildings that you see, like in Waterbury, Bridgeport and put them to use? To me that’s, like, that’s a way for to create those green jobs that we all talking about.

  1. Hemp Builders Association

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, I remembered what you were saying, we were talking about the hemp Builders Association, and then bringing their project up to the CBD certified or somewhere to be certified. And I just saw Jacob posted something great about that. And so I think it was a success. And they’ve been doing great things. They’ve got a great team, and they’re working hard. Yeah, they’re awesome. And there’s, they’re making progress. So it’s fun to watch.

Hector Gerardo said, I mean, and also just find your own solutions. If somebody tells you, this is happening, create your own like, find your find your tribe, find your group, create your own groups and, and build because it’s all about having the conversation and not forgetting because one thing for me and, and Connecticut in particular because now I live here, I don’t want to be part of the cannabis industries. Even if I have the marijuana industry, even if I have a chance, it’s because they purposely excluded a native nation. The Eastern peak was our state not federally recognized. So they made a compact deal with the federally recognized tribes. So they can pay the State whatever they have to pay the state but they have a full autonomy on the on their marijuana and hemp operations, but they excluded the Eastern Pecos so how I’m going to be trying to make some money and Connecticut when they excluded people that are a direct descendant of the mistake massacre. That’s why they named it Thanksgiving. If people know the history, when they kill all this indigenous life and mistake, they call it the dance given after that. So the direct descendants of these people and US including them and I work with this and I work with them and like we found each other for some reason And now we build an alliance. So now we’re working together. So if you’re excluding them, what’s going to happen to me and this is the people, that this land belongs to you growing cannabis, and on their land, and you’re screwed by them. So for me that was like, I leave it to the people that want to, that one that blood money?

  1. Create Opportunity

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, We see it come up in all parts of business. And that’s where it gets. So discouraging is why what are the Yeah, what are the solutions? How to change it? So I’m curious about how we get How do we How do we create that opportunity? Right? For? I don’t know how to ask this. As opportunities are opening up for revenue and processing and job and land ownership, right? How do we? How do we prepare? Or what is the information that new farmers need to hear in order to be prepared to start an adventure like this? Or do something like this, when you say you’re going out? You’re talking and you’re educating now, what are some of those key aspects that need to be evaluated or educated on?

Hector Gerardo said, For me, it’s the longevity that some people think about right now, okay. So educating them that happiness is long term, motioning is not a right now solution and you got to be patient, and you got to get in and now so you can start learning. Listen to different people. Talk about him, go to Winona, from Winona hemp, and soda learn from her. Do you know she’s great? So start researching right now, like I did a whole viability and feasibility study for one of my clients. So that’s that, for me, even though I was doing this for a client. For me, that was a learning experience, because I learned so much of the viability and the visibility of hemp. And the key is finding that market, and how we can create that market. So when you have that understanding, and you have that knowledge, and start making those connections, you start going to different conferences, and you start talking to people that are like minded, like you, then you start coming up with those solutions for the, for the market, because at the end of the day, we all want to make some money. So we gotta make this market work. So how can we create the supply and demand the supply can be created, but that the man is the key? So how can we, as a whole, new farmers or farmers in this industry can come up with those solutions. So coming, talking to people and understanding that when what you’re getting into it’s not going to be easy, but it’s there, because it’s happening all over all over the country, all over the world. It’s just not happening here. But it is happening all over the world. It’s getting.

  1. Consumer Demand Looks Like

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, Okay, so talk to me about demand, right consumer demand, if you’ve painted a perfect picture for a consumer demand campaign, what would that look like?

Hector Gerardo said, For me it would be having demonstrations like right now I’m working with the, with the with a botanical garden, so we can get they want to grow some hemp so they can do demonstrations to builders, to trade unions. And we that’s how we make the demand is educating the stakeholders, because they don’t understand it yet. So bringing them in a room, having, bringing them in a room like NoCo because I know in Denver, the governor is very pro him. I understand that he was the one that said, Okay, go to the hotel, you gotta give him the same price. Because we’re doing this I gotta give him the same price. So I know that, changing the minds like that of the stakeholders, bringing them to the spaces so they can learn what we do in Troy, New York, right now that they found rebar from him. So they created the rebar, the first rebar in Troy, New York, the Institute. So having those demonstrations so they can learn that we can move forward, away from from digging into soil, they can for oil, and doing all these different things that we don’t need to be doing that’s detrimental to the earth and start healing our mother nature because we need to see So if that’s the way that we’re going to be able to build the demand is that if we change those stakeholders, those companies that’s coming in to New York and Connecticut, doing this massive buildings and infrastructures, we need to put them in a room and teach them that they need to switch to have, and it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be hard people, you might want to give up. But at the end of the day, if we’re not doing this work, they’re not going to be doing it because they still don’t understand it. After four or five years it has been legal. in the country, they still don’t understand it. Why is it necessary because there’s still states that have legalized hemp to this day, they’re still fighting to legalize hemp.

Mandi Lynn Kerr commented, So a lot of gray area still, right, then it really prevents a lot of things from moving forward, especially as we’re seeing a lot of like, alternative ways to turn CBD or other cannabinoids into molecules get you high. Not call them all out. But yes and so I like THC o or delta eight or those that creates a big, like, misunderstanding of what have been is and it’s almost like we’re having to recreate that understanding that hemp is carbon sequestration, hemp is jobs, hemp is looking at this from an economic standpoint, job creation of trades really impacting where the bipoc community is really could really use resources, in my opinion, right, just to what you said, like being able to really put jobs and land and new facilities and ownership and, entrepreneurship back in the hands of Americans,

Hector Gerardo said,I mean, some of the young people don’t even know how to write a check yet. So it’s like, that education, how you want to run a business, I have business, if they don’t even know how to write a check how they, how they can even create a business plan. So having like somebody said, Patrick, ancillary businesses. So like teaching these young people in the community, that is not just a cultivation, that you have many different ways to get into, into this industry, that you can create generational wealth. And it’s all like,one of the things that we want to do upstate with this 100 acres that we’ve consulted is that we want to build out of hemp. Build a trade school there. We bring people from the city, upstate, bring people that are on the verge of incarceration, young people, people that are coming out of jail, teaching them to stray, because if you want them not to what’s the word, recidivism, recidivism when you go back and back to jail. So if you want to start and then you gotta create opportunities, and it’s all about that’s what we all have asked hemp around Farmstead, Blue Dream radio, one freedom for all our businesses that we have. It’s all about creating opportunities for the community at large, especially for us, but also for everybody, not just for the BIPA community, even though we’re concentrating on our own.

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, At well. And that’s what’s so exciting, right, as you look at putting a processing facility in and a processing facility, or acres of farm, farmland, and just the carbon, aspects, let alone all of the ancillary businesses that are created because of it are impacted because of it. That’s where, like, there’s not a lot of conversation that goes into or we’re not talking about a lot of that conversation, because we don’t have a lot of active processing facility to say, look, we are doing it, everyone’s talking about a bit here we actually are. And so I really hope I’m really excited that this grant money comes down for agriculture and the impact that it has, because it really is about farmers. And it really is about securing that’s where our supply chain starts. We have outsourced so much of it and lost so much of it to other countries and other other regions. And so it’s great to bring it back.

Hector Gerardo said, To add one thing, I know a lot of people are here talking about ecosystems, let’s build an ecosystem around the industry. And a lot of people leave the plant, leave the actual thing that we are fighting for that a lot of people got locked up for that’s not part of the ecosystem. I’m like, How can you not have an ecosystem without you cannot have an ecosystem without the Earth or the cannabis? Right? You cannot have it. So when we talk about ecosystems we got to include the earth and the planet into it.

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, Well, it’s different, there are many other industries where the fall armor is also the manufacturer and the business owner. Right? That’s not as common, I don’t think it is, or at least that’s what I see, right? This we see a lot of, especially in the emerging industry, right that we get a lot of the same people doing the same things and realizing what scale looks like and partnering up with those, but having to respect where the plant is coming from, and it is the input, and it is this Achilles tendon to all of these other, pieces of the supply chain, or at the industry they’ve been, they create revenue.

Hector Gerardo said, Yeah, and we need to care about what we put inside. Because he’s given us so much the Earth has given us so much, now we need to care what we’re putting in it. So and we need to now take ownership and take responsibility for what’s happened because we,, we wash our hands, monocropping big, big agro farms, that are taking over 1000s of acres that are doing, corn and, and that detrimental when you grow is so much in one spot, cotton. So for me, it’s like, how can we move away from that, and, care about the small farmers and I care so much about, even though we need big farmers, but we need the small mom and pop shops like ours to survive as well, because we, we are the backbone of farming for sure.

  1. Feasibility Studies

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, Okay. So earlier, you were talking about feasibility studies, that term is thrown around a lot, especially as people are trying to figure out, what’s possible with him? Can you talk a little bit about what you consider in a feasibility study? What are you calculating? And looking at? 

Hector Gerardo said, When we do a visible feasibility plan, we’re calculating how, in the long term, we’re calculating the things that you can do right now, as well. We’re calculating the days. ike the things that you can do right now, like, right now, one of the things that we tell our clients is that they can start right now selling seedlings, they can they don’t have to even grow the whole plant, you can, that’s a, that’s a lot of people are just buying the seedlings and the in the little ham trees, they just buying that a lot of people are just buying seeds. So find the things that’s happening right now that you can get into so you can plan for the long term. So you can have something going right now. So you can go for the long term. Bedding, animal bedding are selling right now. So how can you sell for the first year so you can learn how to grow it? So animal bedding, and what’s the what’s the, what’s the market for right now. And a lot of places, upstate, where they are, they’re in Camden, New York, they do a lot of cattle. So how can you start building those relationships as part of the visibility plan? All the different entities that are around you? What are they doing? And how can you connect with those people, so you can help better their infrastructure, and they can help you with your infrastructure. So that’s all part of the plan that we put in and also the numbers, what, how much money you gotta make for each product that you can that you can produce through him. So that’s some of the things that we include in a feasibility plan. It took us, I thought it was gonna be three pages where we was gonna be three pages don’t worry about it’s gonna be easy turned out to be 26 Yeah. It was like a big a big document that has a lot of the information that you need, we also added you guys into it like if you really if you if you really want to be part of this of this industry, you need to be affiliated with people that’s doing this work with people that already have the connections to this I also put on Santa Fe farms, but another instance name Yeah, and that’s what we put on the on the viability and visibility plan people that’s already in the process of doing it or doing it already here in the United States or abroad. And that’s some of the elements that we added to our study.

Mandi Lynn Kerr commented and said, say elements of fancy Santa Fe farms turn to elements six dynamics.

Hector Gerardo said, There you go. Yes. That’s right. It’s important to do that before you venture into this business. I feel that if you have in hand you have exactly what you’re getting into now you have something tangible that you can make decisions on. Also you can use that for investors when you when you create a visibility story study or viability study you go to your investors and say listen I did the work this is what’s happening this is how we’re going to make money and you have this study that you can shop around now to build your your to build your your infrastructure because you need many different ways, many different things that you need, you need the transportation How are you going to get the ham to your facility, if you try to get a facility where you’re going to get the seeds because a lot of people were getting seeds from Russia and that’s not happening no more. So, like you need to know all these different things and that’s what goes into it. And that’s what investors want to see when you are really about the work that you’re trying to do. You have to come prepared.

Mandi Lynn Kerr asked a question: so out of your feasibility study where in your area do you see the best opportunity? Like what is some low hanging fruit and some long term real opportunity? Because I understand very closely well that a farm really has to be close to where it’s being processed for it to really make the biggest impact so What’s leaving your area with manufacturing near you?

Hector Gerardo said, What your well there’s no manufacturing near us right now. Because the thing about the East Coast especially New York, Connecticut, New Jersey that we grow for CBD there’s not too many farmers that have grown hemp that are growing for fiber and for and for and for seeds.

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, same for things like automotive

Hector Gerardo said, I mean I’m asked to process right here while we process in Cannes, Connecticut. I don’t think we press it like we do a lot of cattle, we do a lot of meat. Okay, okay. Vegetables, we do a lot of meat and vegetables here in Connecticut. Not so much the products they process for me. I don’t know how we can use processing machines from cattle to process hemp? Can you do that?

Mandi Lynn Kerr replied and said, No, I was meeting for supply chain, like our full supply chain, what’s your industry,

Hector Gerardo said, animal bedding and animal feed. There’s a lot of animals here. So for us, that’s one of the things that we point out to our, to our clients, that animal bedding, food, and CBD citizens, because a lot of farmers don’t want to do the whole seed to seed to harvest they want to choose by the clones, by the plants on at a certain height, they can choose automatically just put it in their fields. So for us, that’s a viable market. You have 100 acres, you just build a greenhouse designated just for siblings and you sell that, and a lot of farmers will buy that. Biofuel for jets for cars. And, we had the conversation a few months back that BMW is going is going hemp, all these different clothing companies are growing hand get, all these different places that are going towards and so starting those conversations now, talking to those reps from those companies, start building those relationships and that’s what we tell our clients is that, we’re going to give you a list of all the places that you can start building relationships but no, this is long term when it comes to those materials. But if you want something right now, right now in Connecticut, the big thing is that any farm that you go to a lot of farmers are going the hemp route for, for bedding for their animals, for goats and for food. Instead of hay, they give them hemp to eat. So, that, I see, we should go. And when people say there’s no viable business or no physical business there is you just got to know what to find.

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, What do you mean when you say that? 

Hector Gerardo said,  a lot of people say There’s no viability in hemp right now. Oh, yeah. Right you should not be that people should not get into hemp because you’re not gonna make any money. But if you if you’re a hustler if you like, innovative and that’s one of the reasons why I love him because we have to be innovative you have to think you have to

Mandi Lynn Kerr commented and said, forefront of this this is where opportunities lies, right and these people that are at the forefront right in the industry like yourself, are really are who going to make it in the industry know and it’s it’s unfortunate the CBD I had a really good interview last week with Josh Hendricks about any put into perspective for me that term, CBD crash, right? Like, understanding the numbers and understanding how little actually needs to be grown to hit market demand and how gray our market still was with the FDA, in business, you’ve got it, we’ve got to be wise about it. And back farming is a business, right? And we’ve got to be smart in business, and we can’t jump in and not evaluate the entire supply chain and be able to see what’s driving our end market what a contracts look like when we’re agreements look like and 

Hector Gerardo said, Not to mention, if you go through drought as a farmer, then your crop is all messed up, you go, you get fungus, or you get some bad mole or bad and fixed. And your whole crop for that year. Year. Year, there you go. So you got to think about all those different things. 

  1. Growing a Business

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, And so those are the types of things that we need to consider when we’re growing a business and what business looks like, and, and so when I asked earlier, how do we get funds? Or how do we get opportunity to these farmers that are owed opportunity? Right? That’s kind of where I’m at, what are some of those filters, if you call it or some of those processes that we can put in place to help educate them. And I really liked some of the topics we talked about, I’d love to revisit them at a later date. Let’s see if we can really nail down some of the top three questions and let’s do aq & a and just dive into those top three questions. And so we can start getting content to specifically probably answer a lot of questions you’re getting.

Hector Gerardo said, No. And right now, like, I’m part of different, I’m part of the BI working groups that the Department of Ag has put together like every state or putting these working groups together. So I’m part of the education working group. So one of the things that we are working on is to send a centralized place where new beginning farmers can learn about how they can get Lan Lan access? What are some of the different tactics for regenerative agriculture that you can use? What are some? What are some of the things that you can grow? What is hemp? And one of the things that I’m pushing is to have a whole conversation for new beginning farmers about the possibilities of hemp? And how can we create generational wealth through it, so that the mother thinks that we are pushing his educational places where our meaningful education not just to educate people, but actually, we’re going to education, and then we got to put you in a place where you can get hands on experience, and maybe become owner of something of your own. But at least you can get, the practice, you can get the hands on experience, work with different farmers that are doing this work, and create an actual leadership line where you can see this new farmers growing within the community,

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, I have the tools, this toolbox, I want to be able to provide for them and with that comes those vetted connections that you can trust that are doing things right, that have good intentions.

Hector Gerardo said, make 30 billion if we can make $30 billion available.” Biden just signed for hemp and I don’t have anything against the police. But if they have $30 billion for the police, and like 700 and something dollars for the army, they should put some money towards agriculture. And so are people that are in need here in the United States, like some of that money should like be reallocated to the needs of the United States as a whole because a lot of people are losing their homes. A lot of people are losing their jobs. And we need to reallocate and rethink how we use money in this country.

Mandi Lynn Kerr said,  I’m really hoping that we are not disappointed in the way money is allocated or distributed for this climate. Smart commodities really are focused on or from what I’ve read is our farmer and getting money into the hands of the farmer. And with that comes having to build some infrastructure so that we can support the offtake of those farmers. Right. But yeah, I think I’m really hoping that with all the effort and not just in the hemp industry, it’s all agriculture, right, everybody, but focused on king of the topics we talked about today

Hector Gerardo said,  I would like for them not to take it back because the USDA put $5 billion towards black farmers. When Biden first got into office, they put $5 billion. And then a lot of, white farmers, they got mad, and they filed a lawsuit and that money went right back to them. So they put $5 billion for black farmers, and then they take it back and give it back to the 95% of it, they give it back to the same farmers that don’t need that much money.

  1. What Did You See and Experience in the Positive Light of our Industry’s growth?

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, Okay, well see, this is the kind of stuff that and the more we talk about it, we’ve got to be able to talk about it. And it’s uncomfortable to talk about sometimes, but it’s the reality that numbers don’t lie. And this is where we’ve got to be able to say that I understand that we may not feel that this is what’s happening or going on. But it’s a topic that we’ve got to be able to address. And so yeah, I would welcome you to talk anytime I welcome you. I’m really excited. We scheduled another interview on the 26th, where we’re going to have a panel of farmers to kind of answer and dive into some of these questions. And I really would like to dive into the farm experience. Right. Let’s talk about some of the education for those farmers specifically. And yeah, any questions or anything that you want to throw out? Actually, real quick? I had one other question I wanted to get to: what was your most innovative thing you saw when you were at? No Co? And what was the best? Like What Did You See and an experience in the positive light of our industry’s growth?

Hector Gerardo said, Does it the diversity that was in that room? All the different faces, all the different people and everybody’s like, just there for the same common goal? It was it was one of the best. I enjoy myself in this conference, more than any other conference that I’ve been through. My first conference was the expo, the cannabis Expo in New York City at the Javits Center. And I’m a smoker, I smoke weed. So I smoked before I went in, it’s like cannabis Expo where you are supposed to use weed. And then when people were walking by one guy looked at me and he said, everybody that smokes, we want to be in the industry. I was like, if you’re not smoked, I mean, like, What are you talking about? So, for meI felt the love and to me, it was the hemplucid halfword . My father’s a builder so my father’s into construction. So they gave me a sample of the template for the flooring, and I showed it to my father he was like, you need to grow hemp for this Yeah, so that already is like you need to grow this is beautiful. Look at the finish. So to me it was like seeing the hemp wood flooring and the things that you can do with it. I never saw that. So that was for me.

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, here’s lots of opportunity and lots of growth. It’s always fascinating. So if you’re, I read an hour, so I’m gonna ask one more question and then we’ll be done. What, when you grow industrial apples for Africans, like fiber? What is your end application? What are you hoping to sell into?

Hector Gerardo said just want to sell, I just want to get at the core indicator that breaks everything apart and sell that. Yeah, the raw materials just didn’t sell the raw materials and let the manufacturers do what they do. That’s, that’s my, that’s my dream, just process it. The raw material and that’s what we’re doing with the CBD is that we grow the flower just for raw oil, CBD oil, and then we give it to the manufacturers and they do whatever they do with it. We don’t want to, we don’t want anything else to do. The carbon, I want to sequester carbon and then get some carbon credits for the farm.

  1. How do people reach out 

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, And then if anybody has any questions, how do people reach out to you?

Hector Gerardo said, email? on Instagram. We don’t have a website yet. We’re working on it on LinkedIn, so I’m on LinkedIn as well. Actor Geraldo, you can find me there. 

Friends of Hemp is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to awareness and advocacy of hemp.