After banding together to harvest 10 acres of hemp plants, it took six months for them to trim, process and manufacture the crop into pure CBD form. The wholesale batch had been earmarked for vendors for the upcoming music festival season. But by March 2020, with cases of the Corona virus multiplying daily, everything ground to halt. Wholesale orders were cancelled as festival vendors declared bankruptcy. “It was a disappointment,” Fagon shares. “We just had a huge successful 10-acre grow, which was very rare for first time farmers to pull off. And we were prepared to do it again in a more efficient and concerted way right as the pandemic hit.” With revenue rapidly depleting and the threat of transmission and infection looming, Fagon decided to hit pause on operations and ultimately sit out the 2020 farming season.
Cultivating community, not just crops, is one of the founding principles of Gullybean Farm. Doubling down on this core tenet helped the Gullybean team as they navigated the perilous COVID-19 shutdown and will continue to define the farm’s future.
For his part, Fagon is fully committed to paying it forward. He’s partnered with Medgar Evers College, the predominantly Black public institute named after the late Civil Rights leader based in Crown Heights Brooklyn, to develop a curriculum focused on cannabis and hemp industries. With the recent passing of New York State legislation that makes cannabis legal for adult recreational growth, sale, and use, the demand for agricultural expertise will be at an all time high. Starting May 1, Fagon will join the Medgar Evers College Cannabis Education Task Force as an adjunct professor for a 15-week course on Cannabis Horticulture. “The team at Medgar Evers really wants to bring holistic cannabis education to the community and to their students,” says Fagon. “What they’re doing is a necessary component of creating an actual inclusive industry.”
As the new laws go into effect in New York and neighboring New Jersey, forecasts suggest something akin to the early “Green Rush” that swept through Colorado and Washington states in 2012, driving massive economic development and projecting a multi-billion dollar market. “It’s just like wine was legalized and there’s no one who knows how to grow grapes. So it’s this huge opportunity.” Fagon wants to make sure that the next generation of Black hemp and cannabis farmers are positioned to get in on the ground floor.