The Vermont Botanical Center of Excellence will be a farming campus located in northwestern Vermont. The Center, for which Kria is actively seeking partner farms and farmers, will have four pillars: hemp, hops, herbs and a food hub. It will be a center of innovation and education, a hub of product development and quality food, and a community gathering place.
We see an opportunity to create an economy built on Vermont’s long tradition of cooperative, community-based agriculture. The Vermont brand – high quality, local, artisanal – gives us a competitive advantage over other states and empowers us to grow an economy that avoids the downsides of Big Agriculture- corporatized, concentrated ownership of business up and down the agricultural value chain.
A center of innovation and collaboration
The guiding value of the Vermont Botanical Center of Excellence is collaboration. The campus will include cooperative processing infrastructure available to local farmers, and educational programs for farmers and the general public. Special crops often require custom or expensive equipment to process, making it cost prohibitive for many farmers to diversify into new crops. The Center will supply the curriculum, genetics and processing capability to Vermonters who are looking for access to high value crops in order to diversify their farms and improve their bottom line.
We are especially committed to excelling the growth of therapeutic botanicals. Therapeutic botanicals represent the past, present, and future of medicine. For thousands of years, pharmacies were herbal apothecaries. Market research shows a clear consumer shift to botanicals for preventative and personal care; we see it already in the local food movement as well as in the emerging cannabis markets both as medicinal marijuana and CBD products. Working with our partners, Kria will supply producers with pharmacological-grade herbs and botanical extracts. We're working to create a network of organic herb producers that can benefit from shared infrastructure to secure large and lasting contracts with local and global producers, while establishing a mark of excellence for Vermont Botanicals.
Hemp, hops, Herbs and hub
The Center of Excellence will focus on the cultivation of hemp for CBD extraction, commercial hops production, herb production, and a food hub that sells local Vermont fruits and vegetables.
CBD hemp is a cornerstone of Kria's therapeutic herb planning. One of the most intriguing developments to come out of states that have legalized hemp cultivation is the growth in popularity of a compound derived from the cannabis plant called cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD is one of 80+ cannabinoids in cannabis. Unlike its more well-known counterpart compound, THC, CBD has no psychoactive effect on humans: it doesn’t get you high.
What it does provide is treatment for a wide range of conditions – anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and antidepressant. Consumers worldwide are catching on. Sales are increasing dramatically worldwide, as CBD is infused into everything from beer and wine to dermal patches and chewing gum. Many of these CBD products contain no THC but are nonetheless very popular in dispensaries and retail stores.
We have been growing CBD hemp in VT for the past two years, and we're expanding yet again this year with Kria Botanicals, a business dedicated to growing, processing, and extracting CBD. That includes post-harvest processing, including analytics, and drying and extracting from all varieties of plants, from medicinal herbs to hops. Testing - microbial testing as well as chemical constituent analysis - will be offered as a service to local farmers. Our goal is to develop a legal certified seed catalog of Vermont CBD hemp cultivars that we can share with farmers who in turn benefit from our analytic and processing capabilities on the back end.
Hops is a second area of focus. A therapeutic botanical to be sure, hops is also a valuable commodity in the burgeoning beer market. Vermont was once the second largest hop producer in the nation. We share many agricultural and climatic similarities with the prime hop producing regions of Europe. We can again be a national leader on hops production, particularly with a quality level that lives up to the highest Vermont standards.
We're partnering with businesses that are dedicated to local hop production and shared processing capability, with a goal to disseminate the knowledge and ability to grow hops, while offering the capability to commercially process them for market. Hop pickers, drying kilns and a pelletizer are examples of the specialized equipment that represent barriers to new hop farmers. As with hemp and other botanicals, we aim to help the local farmer get established in the crop, and then get their hops appropriately processed for sale on a aggregated scale.
Finally, a Vermont Botanical Center of Excellence wouldn't be complete without a food hub where community members can purchase, individually or through community-supported agriculture programs, high quality Vermont fruits and vegetables. Much like the Intervale became a thriving center of agriculture and economic activity, we see the Center of Excellence as a place for community, commerce, and nourishment.