First-time farmers develop hemp enterprise in Stark County

BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) – The pandemic brought about career changes for many people. For one family in Taylor, North Dakota, it was the push they needed to finally work their land.

Cathy and Shane Weber use a precision heater to heat hemp flower. After a five-hour infusion, the process produces CBD oil. It’s just one of many hemp-based creations this family makes on their farm.

“I never envisioned a year ago, we would have these amazing products,” said Cathy Weber, Badlands Hemp co-owner. She says they’ve been able to tap into wellness benefits CBD offers.

Shane was working in the oil field, but his brother-in-law, who worked with hemp in Oregon, had planted a seed; that the family should start a hemp farm. The pandemic gave them the opportunity.

“I got furloughed, so I started to think that this was a business that we could actually do,” said Shane Weber, Badlands Hemp co-owner.

The family went to work. They got a grower’s license, built a greenhouse and a barn, and, with the help of their extended family, spent three days hand planting thousands of plants on 2 acres of never before tilled pastureland.

“I feel like we were successful our first year because although we were first time farmers, we had an experienced harvester helping us,” said Cathy.

They’ve reaped the benefits of their hard work.

“We had flower, but we were not able to sell it in bulk like we originally planned. So, my first thought was we needed to make oil,” said Cathy.

Hemp, though similar to marijuana, is different. Hemp flowers and products are legal in North Dakota.

“We haven’t had anyone who’s said anything negative to us. They’re either like, ‘oh that’s nice,’ or they are really interested and want to know. For the most part everybody is really interested, and a lot of people don’t know what hemp is either. So, we are trying to educate people that hemp is just a plant that grows in the ground, and we are doing our best with it,” said Shane.

And the most rewarding part of the new business?

“Staying at home with the family. That’s the best part. My work is 500 feet that way, or a quarter mile that way. And I got the family here to see all day and every day. So that’s the best,” said Shane.

In the meantime, they are curing hundreds of pounds of flower, continuing to make various products, and working to change the perception around the plant.

The Webers are attending hemp summits around North Dakota to learn even more as they grow. Their farm is the first hemp farm in Stark County.

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