An organic farm known in Southern Oregon for its vegetables is making a name in the hemp field.
Wandering Roots Farm in Gold Hill has unveiled a line of hemp tinctures that represent more than another CBD remedy. Farmer Jeff Boesch says he sees hemp as one crop among many that help to keep his 50-acre property healthy and his business model sustainable.
“I rotate it in with my vegetable crop,” says Boesch, whose diversified farm mingles 8 acres of vegetables, 2 acres of mixed fruit and nut trees and 1 acre of mixed berries.
Boesch and his wife, Anna, have wholesale produce accounts with 10 Southern Oregon restaurants and seven grocers and specialty stores while offering direct consumer sales through three local farmers markets and their own community supported agriculture program. The vegetable business did so well with a solid farm labor force in 2020 that Wandering Roots tapped into a grant program for selling to food banks, says Jeff Boesch.
Yet it was obvious to Boesch that the flat ground he cultivates — once a vast tract of hay — was perfect for hemp. He leases 20 acres of his property to growers who are not themselves certified organic but uphold all of Boesch’s principles to safeguard his status. And in 2019, Boesch planted his first acre of hemp.
“I kind of stayed away from it for years as a farmer,” he says. “We already had the land, and we were already doing row-cropping.”
Faced with a flooded hemp flower market, however, coupled with challenging harvest conditions in 2019, Boesch started looking for ways to preserve the value of his biomass. He read an article about Philomath’s Gathering Together Farm, which has a sister operation for hemp processing that’s also certified organic. Although it sells its own product line, SunGold Botanicals extracts, formulates and packages for about a dozen private-label customers, including Wandering Roots and Takilma’s East Fork Cultivars.
“We’ve created this sort of network of certified organic companies and growers,” says SunGold’s Isaac Daniel.
Hemp, unlike cannabis, can be certified organic because it has legal status at the federal level, says Daniel. That means consumers can trust organic hemp products will be free of synthetic chemicals and cross-contamination by biomass from unscrupulous growers. That makes them healthful in ways that not every cannabis product can lay claim, says Daniel.
“It means something more than sustainable agricultural practices,” he says. “People are consuming something that they can believe in.”
Hemp, for Boesch and his family, represented “something that’s bigger than us.” Using CBD products for the past few years, Boesch says he believes it’s an effective remedy. Cultivating and harvesting hemp gives Wandering Roots employees more work heading into the cold season than vegetables do, he adds.
“I have no expectations of it really making me rich or anything,” says Boesch, adding that he believes Wandering Roots is more viable than monocrop hemp farms operated on behalf of investors.
From a single acre of hemp, Boesch can produce 100,000 bottles of tincture, which comes in three flavors — lime, peppermint and lemon-ginger — in 900- or 1,800-milligram strength. Wandering Roots Botanicals also offers a 1,000-milligram salve scented with eucalyptus and mint.
SunGold creates flavor profiles for customers using organic essential oils, says Daniel. That sets their products apart, he says, from those containing artificial flavors. Organic cane ethanol from Ashland’s Organic Alcohol Company is the medium for extracting cannabinoids and terpenes from hemp biomass, yielding a full-spectrum product, says Daniel. Naturally occurring fats and waxes in the hemp are left behind during the extraction process to yield the purest possible finished products, he says.
Producing his own hemp tincture, says Boesch, has inspired him to diversify further into growing medicinal herbs for inclusion in the formulas. Medicinal mushrooms are another ingredient he’d like to infuse into the hemp tinctures, he says. And he’s committed, he adds, to using only his own biomass.
Storage for biomass and oil that hasn’t been packaged is another perk of working with SunGold, says Boesch, who is constructing an online sales platform for Wandering Roots Botanicals. In the meantime, he’s soliciting all his wholesale accounts to stock it on their shelves.
Ashland Food Co-op is the first to carry Wandering Roots Botanicals 30-milliliter bottles of tincture and jars of salve. The salve retails for $40, and the tinctures are priced at $50 and $75 for 900 milligrams and 1,800 milligrams, respectively.
See wanderingrootsfarm.com or follow @wanderingrootsfarmoregon on Facebook and @wanderingrootsbotanicals on Instagram.
Reach freelance writer Sarah Lemon at firstname.lastname@example.org.