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Small-scale farmer has high hopes with CBD shop

A small-scale farmer in Uniontown has big hopes.

Eric Simo, owner of Hempin LLC, hopes his new retail shop will be successful, and he hopes to help people with his farm-to-shelf CBD products.

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The shop at 12220 E. State Road 250 is open as of today but is still undergoing some light construction to finish things up.

“This is a farm-to-shelf company, so I don’t go on the internet and buy the oil. I’m growing the plants, my friend is extracting the oil and he and I are making the products,” Simo said. “This is such an awesome industry in what it’s doing to help people.”

Simo, 48, is a native of Columbus and lived in Colorado for two years with his wife, Edith, and their two children, Emily and Evan, before deciding to move back to Indiana.

While in Colorado, he worked in sales for Caterpillar and John Deere.

“I came back to visit my parents and was contacted to do a little consulting work for some hemp farmers and decided to come back to Indiana and start a business here,” Simo said. “We knew we wanted to be in this area, and it’s a great little community out here.”

Before making the move to Colorado several years ago, Simo was the owner of Southern Crossroads Garden Center and Greenhouses in Columbus. It specialized in out-of-season organic produce with year-round production for the farmers market.

At his new business, he grows hemp plants in his light-controlled indoor growing facility in Uniontown to make CBD products.

“We use light timers and a drip irrigation system since we grow in containers, and twice a day, we give them a little bit of water, and we have a grow that we just harvested,” Simo said. “By growing indoors, you’re able to grow a much better quality product, and what we are is a small-scale craft of CBD farm basically. We grow a high-end, quality, organically grown product.”

Instead of spraying pesticides on the hemp plants, they periodically release predatory insects that will go after anything that comes into the growing facility for preventative pest maintenance.

Simo said after the plants are harvested, they are hung up to dry. Fans are used to make a light breeze, and humidity is kept somewhere between 50 and 60%.

“Hemp that has been specifically bred for CBD production might look and smell like standard marijuana plants, but the big difference is the THC content, which is below the legal limit of 0.3% in hemp plants, which is minute,” Simo said. “The federal government is making it hard for hemp farmers to be able to produce good, quality product with the current rules.”

He said farmers who are growing hemp and investing their farm in it have the plants tested, and if it’s over the legal limit of 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, they have to destroy it. The farmer might have spent all summer long and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars to get into this game, and then they have to destroy the crop and lose their farm.

Simo said if a farmer has a hot field (over the limit), in theory, he or she could take it to an extractor after the field is processed, take out the THC to make it legal and that processor could give it back to the farmer, but the federal government won’t allow it.

“We have farmers all around the state that are losing everything over these really bad rules, so we test all the time every week as the plants are flowering,” Simo said. “We start testing, and then we send the samples to a third-party lab, and then they send us a COA, certificate of analysis, and this will tell us all of our chemical compounds and makeup of that plant.”

Simo had a citral plant tested, and it was at a legal level of 0.17%. Then eight days later, the state came in and tested it, and it was 0.30% — still perfectly legal, but the percentages can change in a matter of days, so it’s key for farmers to test their fields often.

Simo said he has had to burn some plants, but he grew it in smaller amounts to see what grows better on a larger scale.

“If I’d had 50 acres of it, I would’ve had to burn it all, but this way, I only had to burn 28 plants. This first year is about testing,” he said.

“Another part of our business is taking mother plants that we have already flowered out, know what the plant is and what the COA is, then we take the female cannabis plant that is not flowering and cut branches off of it, and you force that branch to root and it grows into another plant that’s identical,” he said.

That way, the farmer knows if that is planted in the field, it will be state compliant and is not going to go hot.

There’s a lot of science involved, and then there is the chemistry of the oil itself.

Some of the products Simo will have available in his shop are 1,000 mg and 3,000 mg bottles, which are full spectrum, 1,000 mg broad spectrum, which is THC-free, and CBDa.

“When they are extracting oil, an isolate is when they remove everything except the CBD. A broad spectrum is when they keep everything and remove the THC,” Simo explained. “So a full spectrum is everything that is state compliant, under 0.3 percent THC, and you get the full benefits of everything. CBDa is a specialty oil that some people claim has helped relieve pain.”

According to the health.harvard.edu/ website, CBD is commonly used to address anxiety and for patients who have insomnia. Studies suggest CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep. It also may offer an option for treating different types of chronic pain and inflammation.

Simo currently is working on some different gummies and has some, but he is having to wait on carriers. He said the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down everything, even in this industry, to get the supplies they need, like bottles and packaging.

Along with CBD oils and gummies, Simo has been working on some hand creams.

“We will pull some hand cream samples to be sent to a third party to get the levels tested. Then we’ll adjust the formulation to get the milligram strength we want for our lotion,” Simo said. “Then we make it again with our new calculated formulation, pull more samples to be sent and tested again and then those results will tell us if our formulation is accurate.”

The cream will be infused with essential oils of rosemary, patchouli, lavender, eucalyptus and bergamot.

Starting today, Hempin LLC will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Mondays by appointments only.

An appointment allows a customer some one-on-one time with Simo to discuss an individual plan because everyone is different when it comes to the levels and dosages of CBD that are needed. Plus, he can answer questions and explain how to use the products correctly.

UNIONTOWN A small-scale farmer in Uniontown has big hopes. Eric Simo, owner of Hempin LLC, hopes his new retail shop will be successful, and he hopes to help people with his farm-to-shelf CBD products. [sc:text-divider text-divider-title=