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Join Nicole and Tony Keady with West Creek CBD Connection as they discuss living soil, Korean Natural Farming, regenerative techniques and the growing and use of CBD!
What You’ll Learn
- Korean Natural Farming Techniques
- What is living soil and why is it important?
- What is industrial hemp and what are the benefits of CBD?
Our guest for this episode is Tony Keady, owner of West Creek CBD Connection in Howard, CO. Tony has been licensed to grow industrial hemp for four years, and utilizes living organic soil and regenerative farming techniques.
West Creek CBD Connection sells clean, organically grown hemp derived products including tinctures, salves, CBD coconut oil capsules and high CBD hemp seeds.
Resources & Links Mentioned
- West Creek CBD Connection website
- Teaming With Microbes by Jeff Lowenfels *
- Chelsea Hutchinson Foundation
- Email us! [email protected]
*Denotes affiliate links
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Announcer: Welcome to the Backyard Bounty Podcast from HeritageAcresMarket.com where we talk about all things backyard, poultry, beekeeping, gardening, sustainable living, and more. And now here's your host, Nicole.
Nicole: Good morning everybody. Thank you for joining us for another episode of Backyard Bounty. Today we are joined by my friend Tony, and Tony owns West Creek CBD here in Howard, Colorado. And Tony, you said you've been growing industrial hemp for about four years with some organic and regenerative farming techniques. So, thank you for joining us on the show today.
Tony: Yeah, thank you for having me. This will be our fourth season registered with the Colorado Department Of Agriculture to grow industrial hemp.
Tony: And I've always used living organic soil and Korean Natural Farming techniques to grow cannabis. And it actually works really well as far as sustainability, and it's a whole bunch cheaper than using synthetic nutrients.
Nicole: Oh, I'm sure. And not only cheaper, but better for everybody involved.
Tony: It is better. It gives you a cleaner, higher quality product. The plants tend to be higher in terpenes and cannabinoids and they just seem to like the soil a whole bunch more than when I first started out growing using synthetic nutrients.
Nicole: Sure. I think that plants in general probably prefer organic stuff. It's more what they're used to then trying to pump them full of synthetics. To me, synthetics are similar to steroids. They might work, but they might not necessarily be the best option.
Tony: Right. Yeah. You end up with plants that aren't nearly as healthy as they could be. Kind of the whole idea of, when I was introduced to it, was that the Redwood Forest, the soil in the Redwood Forest grows the largest trees in the world. And so, I just try and mimic that soil as much as I can.
Tony: In Colorado we're not ... Up here we're a little drier obviously.
Nicole: Yeah, a little bit.
Tony: Just kind of helping nature along. I try to make aerobic ferments out of wild flowers and different plants on the property. I do bring in some different things like dry amendments, like kelp and fish bone meal and alfalfa and things like that. But as much as possible, I try and go from what we have on the property. We have chickens and ducks and Guinea fowl that we get... We get the guinea fowl from you guys.
Tony: And so we have eggs that we then, we save the shells, and then I'll make the shells into a water soluble calcium ferment that basically that's an extraction that you use vinegar to extract the calcium. And so, we also have yard dogs who will drag home bones and antlers and different things from around the neighborhood. And I'll use those too, with vinegar and extract, make something called Calphos. And so the plants really enjoy that, and we're using something that's kind of laying around.
Nicole: So, that brings about a million different questions to mind. I've heard of just the use of compost before. That's kind of what most people I think kind of default to. But I haven't heard about, you said you use the wild flowers or wild plants and make a fertilizer with those?
Tony: Yeah, so, if we have wild flowers that grow on the property naturally, and basically when a plant flowers it's pulling phosphorus and potash out of the soil. And so in that state of flowering, it's full of those nutrients. And so basically harvesting them and you do a one-to-one mix by weight of the plant material and brown sugar, and let it ferment for about a week or a week and a half. And it just kind of extracts those nutrients out of the plant. There'll be some nitrogen in there too. And so I'll do that for spraying an early flower and then water drenching during the whole flowering process. And so, it's just kind of using what the natural plants on the property are already pulling those nutrients out of the ground for me, and so.
Nicole: That's awesome. I've never heard of anything like that before, but I mean, it absolutely makes sense they're going to be nutrient rich, so might as well synthesize the nutrients from the plant themselves.
Tony: Yes, exactly. And for your vegetative growing state, you can go, and I'll harvest dandelions early before they start to flower, and ferment those.
Tony: To feed a higher nitrogen fertilizer.
Nicole: I'm almost at a loss for words already. We're five minutes in and I already... It's really cool. I've never heard of that before.
Tony: It's funny, because basically all of what I've learned about growing, I just have learned from getting on the internet and kind of researching living organic styles and different methods. And so I never would have thought to do that myself if I hadn't seen it out there. Korean Natural Farming is a big one with making ferments. I stay away from anaerobic ferments. There's some anaerobic ferments used in Korean Natural Farming that I tend to stay away from and try to keep-
Nicole: And why is that?
Tony: You have a higher potential for bad types of bacteria and fungus to grow in your ferments when you're not allowing oxygen in.
Tony: And then if you end up with harmful bacteria, and you water it to your plants, it can actually, you can end up killing your plants.
Tony: If things don't go right for you. I just tend to, I don't know enough-
Nicole: I know that with like brewing kombucha and things like that, fermentation is good, but it can not go so great at other times, and then it could be dangerous. So, I'm sure it's similar to that.
Tony: Yes. Yeah. And I'm not like a... I don't know all the science behind it, but I just-
Nicole: Well, it seems to be working for you though.
Tony: It's working at this point. Yeah, it's been working well for... Well, and it's probably, I think it's been little over four years since I started growing using the natural methods. And then it was shortly after that, that I got licensed to grow hemp. So all my hemp's always been grown that way. We use a lot of cover crops too, alfalfa and clovers and things. I do that even indoors.
Nicole: Oh really?
Tony: And they just have a... The cover crop serves to kind of break the soil up, and if you've got alfalfa or clover, they'll actually pull nitrogen from the air and deposit it into the soil for you.
Nicole: And then I assume before you use the soil, then you just till the cover crops in?
Tony: I kind of do a thing they call chop and drop, where I'll come through and just chop it down and just let it fall where it does and decompose. And I try not to do any real tilling at all. We have two acres and I've got a half acre licensed and we've got... So our field was basically, it was never farmed on before. And the first season I just planted the hemp straight in the ground and it didn't do very well. It was very hard packed and hadn't been shown any attention at all.
Tony: And so the next season what I did was I had a guy come in and drill 18 inch holes, basically, about a foot and a half to two feet deep. I went out, and there's a organic dairy farm here in Howard, and so I went over and got... She's just got a mix of cow dumpings and hay basically. And I got that and I filled all the holes in the field with that. And then since then I haven't done any tilling or anything of the soil. The most I end up doing is going out there with a land rake on the tractor and just kind of dragging it across the field to pull out any tumbleweeds or anything that's grown over the winter or in the early spring. And so I haven't really done a whole lot of tilling at this point.
Tony: I just try and kind of feed the soil from above and try not to disturb the soil web, the food web that starts to grow beneath it. The more mycorrhiza that you allow to grow under the soil, the better. As soon as you start tilling, you end up kind of destroying that network. And that network is kind of like the internet for plants. So, anything that's planted in the ground on the earth, it's all connected, grasses, trees, everything is connected to the soil food web. And you'll have a tree say, get some sort of disease or something. And what it does is it sends out signals to the surrounding trees that it's getting sick and then the surrounding trees will start to produce whatever they can to fight the disease. And so with the idea of the living organic soil is, you don't want to disrupt that network as much as possible.
Nicole: That's one of the neatest things I think I've heard in a long time.
Tony: Yeah. It's crazy to think that they're communicating, trees are communicating with each other like that.
Nicole: I'm taking a class right now and they said that plants communicated with different things like vibrations and pheromones and like you said, you wouldn't think that plants communicate to each other. You think they're just a standalone thing that's just there. But really, they are a living creature just like everything else. But I didn't realize that they could communicate through the ground and communicate diseases and stuff.
Tony: Yeah, it makes sense that they would try and develop some sort of way to battle disease over the millions and millions of years. And I'd never had any idea of it till I started reading about all this stuff. But then once I did, it just made so much sense that they would be communicating like that and trying to save themselves from invasive species or fungus. There's all kinds of different pests that come in.
Nicole: Yeah. So, when you say regenerative farming, which is a difficult thing for me to pronounce, is that kind of this all encompassing, with keeping the soil intact and the use of your wildflower nutrients. Is that kind of what you mean by that?
Tony: Yeah, yeah, totally. And just basically working with the soil to regenerate it. The way that we've been farming as a culture in the United States for the last 150 years, it drains the soils of the normal, natural nutrients that are there, and what you end up with are these fields that are drained completely of nutrients, and so they're forced to feed synthetic nutrients to these crops to get them to grow. Whereas with the regenerative farming, you're trying to create a situation where there's a lot of organic material being decomposed in the field, and that this idea that you don't have to add any synthetics to it. If you just keep the soil life healthy, it'll work for itself and every year it will become better.
Tony: In my field now, after this will be the fourth season, now when I walk out there, even the spots that weren't drilled and had the compost put in, it's starting to soften up and break down and become more of a kind of a loamy soil even in that short period of time. And I watched a video on YouTube and I'm not going to be able to remember this guy's name, but he talked about over a course of 10 years you can totally reverse a farm that's been incorrectly grown on for decades and decades with just using these methods.
Nicole: That's awesome. And I guess it really makes sense if you think about it. In nature, the plants would grow and die and decompose and you'd have different animals coming through and eating and making their own deposits and it would kind of just obviously naturally regenerates itself. And then forest fires and stuff like that. And traditional farming just kind of strips the land of everything, and then leaves it pretty devoid, and then kind of not really beneficial in the end. And then I can see how we can put ourselves in a predicament like that with totally just destroying the soil.
Tony: Yeah, absolutely. And I think now we're seeing when you... If you're going to the store and buying mass produced vegetables or fruits or anything like that, they're not going to be nearly as nutrient dense as vegetables or fruits that are grown in regenerative soil basically. So, the food's not even as healthy for us.
Nicole: Yeah, I know that I had read something or seen something along the lines of, I mean, eating vegetables is great and even if you eat organic vegetables, if the soil isn't healthy then neither are going to be your fruits or vegetables or what you harvest from the land.
Tony: Right. Exactly. And anytime that you... Just like the plants. If you're not growing them in a healthy soil, the plants themselves are not going to be healthy. And so it adds to your pest problems. It adds to the susceptibility to powdery mildew and Botrytis and things like that. But humans are the same exact way. If we're not eating healthy food, we will end up with more diseases. And I think that's what we're seeing with rise in disease and obesity and things is people are eating fast food and chock full of sugar and so it's the same to us. If we're not eating healthy, we're going to be more susceptible to diseases like cancer and things like that. That's the same with the plants. All the way around, regenerative farming can help lower disease and help with people's overall general health and then that goes even further to mental health too.
Nicole: Yep. I couldn't agree with you more. And that's one of the things that I've found so interesting when I've started to really get into gardening and beekeeping and all this stuff is, you don't realize how everything plays together, not only in nature, but it makes you realize that in your own body, like you said, you can only be so healthy if you're eating a fast food hamburger every day. And that's another thing I could talk about for hours.
Nicole: But really they are very similar and we need to treat our bodies better than we are if we're going to be truly healthy. And like you said, even in the level of mental health, I know that they think a lot of diseases or behavioral issues could actually be more so malnutrition and not so much you're starving, but you're lacking macronutrients and stuff. That you really don't have this mental health, depression or whatever. It's just you don't have a sufficiently fed body. And so it starts to manifest itself in different diseases.
Tony: Absolutely. I believe that's absolutely true. And unfortunately I don't know if we'll see major changes for everyone in the near future, but I think those people that are aware of it tend to try and eat a little healthier and stay away from pharmaceuticals and stay away from fast food and all that stuff. We try to do that, we're not always as good as we should be about it over here, but we try to be. So yeah, we're a small farm. I have no employees. My wife works full-time job.
Nicole: Oh really?
Tony: We have a nine year old son. And so she helps around the farm a little bit. But basically everything's done here just by me at the farm. And I like to tell people if you're considering growing hemp but you don't have large acreage, it can still be done, and you can still make a fairly good living on a small piece of land if you're willing to grow the hemp and extract the oil and make products yourself to retail it. It's something that can be done on very small piece of land. So, I always encourage people -
Nicole: So for-
Tony: Go ahead.
Tony: Go ahead.
Nicole: I think I had some communication, kind of cut out a little bit there. Sorry about that. So for maybe those that might not be familiar, can you explain the difference between hemp and cannabis or marijuana or whatever you would like to call it?
Tony: So yeah, it's all cannabis, and hemp is considered by the federal government to... It's considered hemp if it's below 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. And then, so THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid that people always hear about that gets you high. And there's hundreds, there's I think 144 cannabinoids that we know of. CBD and THC being the two main cannabinoids. So the hemp is just high in CBD and then low in THC. And then your other cannabis that's grown for recreational and medical shops is going to be much higher in THC, sometimes up to 30%, and usually in those strains you don't see a whole lot of CBD because over the years it was bred out because it's not psychoactive.
Tony: And when it was a part of the black market, people wanted to grow strong cannabis for sale. And we're kind of finally getting back around to, with this industrial hemp, the idea that these other cannabinoids have a place and can help us. And so what we grow is all industrial hemp. I'm registered with the Colorado Department of Agriculture and you have to give them a GPS point on your property in the center of your registered grow. And then inside your registered grow, you can only have plants that are below 0.3% THC.
Nicole: And do you test for that? Is that something, how do you know what you're percentage-
Tony: So you, one, if you're thinking about buying hemp genetics, you need to do some research and find a good company that has good genetics, and then basically grow it out yourself and test it. The state does some testing. Usually for the outdoor season, they'll come in early September and test your field. They don't test everyone. They just don't have the manpower or time to get around and test all the farms in Colorado. But you can be tested is the idea that, they could come and test. And so, it's important if it's over 0.3% THC and under 1%, you're just not allowed to sell that harvest basically. So, if you were looking to sell it and make a living off it, it would basically ruin your whole season.
Tony: And then if it's above 1%, they can turn you over to the local law enforcement and you can be charged with growing cannabis basically, with THC cannabis. And then you can face all over the different things that come along with getting arrested for that, and jail time, and fines and things. So, it's important to find good genetics and ask the person that's selling you if either clones or seed, to show you a certificate of analysis, a COA of what you're buying. Just to see what you're getting is a legitimate genetic and you won't be wasting your time or possibly jeopardizing your freedom.
Nicole: Sure. Yeah, that would be an important-
Tony: Yeah, and I haven't heard of anyone at this point of having issues of over 1%, but I had heard of plenty of farms that had tested hot over 0.3 and then they basically either just have to destroy their harvest or that you can only personally use it.
Nicole: Okay. So, I know you kind of introduced me to the world of CBD. It was something that being uneducated was kind of new and scary. But when I had my shoulder surgery last year, I don't like taking opiates for some of the reasons that we talked about earlier. I don't like to put chemically manufactured things in my body if I can avoid it. And opiates kind of scare me a little bit. So, you had given me some CBD salve or lotion to use for pain management and I liked that it worked great for pain, but as you said, didn't have any of the psychoactive effects, which was wonderful because that wasn't what I was after. So, what are some of the other benefits of CBD?
Tony: It's really good at reducing inflammation. Extremely good. Even topically for people that are worried about... You can take tinctures internally and that kind of thing. There's a few different types of CBD that you'll see in the stores. One is an isolate, which is 99% CBD and it doesn't contain any THC. You'll see some distillates that are higher; 80 to 90% CBD and they'll remove the THC. I personally use a full spectrum oil that I extract using alcohol. Some people call it a Rick Simpson oil, and Rick Simpson oil was originally made with THC, but I just use the same recipe. And so I save all the terpenes and different cannabinoids that are present, including the THC. And then when I make my products, I include, there's a trace amount of THC. I think there's been studies done in Israel that show that you need a bit of a trace of THC even, to open the receptors in your endocannabinoid system to accept CBD.
Tony: And so, all my products are made containing a trace amount of THC and some people have to do drug tests for work or things like that. And they worry about if there's possibly some THC in here, could I test positive? And we had a guy whose mom was in Nebraska and doesn't smoke any THC cannabis at all. And so for, I think it was three months, over three months, she took my tincture every day, and then once a month she'd take a drug test, and she never came up positive for THC. So, that's a positive as far as people that are worried about possibly having that issue by taking CBD products.
Tony: But I highly suggest to people that are out and about looking for THC products, not to buy them from gas stations or any type of store like that. Try and find a good small batch farm company that creates CBD products with a trace amount of THC in them. They'll be a lot more viable and it'll work a lot better for you basically.
Nicole: Yeah, I know that when I used the CBD, I was worried about the trace THC. But a lot of those UAs, they have a threshold, so they don't test for any THC. You have to reach a certain amount. So as long as you're below that amount, which you will be with the CBD, then it's not an issue. And then I know that I've also been seeing CBD pop up everywhere, stores everywhere. I even, by my work, there's a roadside, they're literally next to the snow cone stand, and they're selling CBD oil. And so, of course, you don't know where that's coming from and it's sort of concerning. So, I know you guys obviously sell the CBD products and that's available on your website. Is that something that you guys are able to ship and can you ship outside of Colorado? How does that work for those that might be interested in trying the CBD products?
Tony: Yeah, so we are able to ship across the country now. We've been shipping for years. The postal service had basically... There was a farm in Colorado that was shipping large amounts of CBD extracts around the country, and the postal service confiscated one or two of their shipments, and they took the postal service to court and they sued the postal service saying that it's been federally legal since 2014. And then in 2018 just after Christmas, Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill and it officially removed CBD and industrial hemp derived oils from the controlled substances act, basically. So, they won this court case and so now it's absolutely 100% legal to ship CBD products and receive them in the mail. People do not have to worry about having any issues with law enforcement or the postal service confiscating their order.
Tony: It's good to send test results with the package in case the post office decides to open it and see what's in it. It's good to send some test results along saying what it is and how it tests. So, on the spot they can see that it's a illegal product. But again, it's good to do your research. I tell people, you don't have to buy it from me, but you do need to do some research and find a good, legitimate company that's using full spectrum oils and extracts to make their products.
Nicole: Awesome. And we'll put a link in the description for anybody that would like to check out your store. And like I said, I've used your products and I can attest to how wonderful they are, and I'm definitely a fan of them. So I'm so excited that I was able to be introduced to that world through you.
Tony: Well, thank you.
Nicole: And I know... Yeah, of course. And I know that you guys also believe in giving back to the community and all that as well. So, you're going to be at the Stomp Out Epilepsy event?
Tony: Yes, that's in Denver. It's a walk and run to raise money for the Chelsea Hutchinson Foundation. I have a cousin in Nebraska who's son has epilepsy, and over the Thanksgiving holiday we were there and he had a seizure and we provided them with some different CBD oils and products to try and help him kind of get away from some of the pharmaceuticals that he's on there. And so, they had a gala last weekend in Denver to raise money and my cousin was nice enough to buy us some tickets, and we went up and got to do dinner and meet some people and meet the people that run the foundation.
Tony: And I had offered to give them some of our products to auction that evening, but they had already had everything set up and we talked about us setting up a table basically at their run. And so I think we're going to be out there for that and kind of try and get the word out a little bit, and we look forward to helping their foundation as much as we can.
Nicole: That's awesome.
Tony: We must give back.
Nicole: Of course. I think that's just being responsible business owners and just good people is to try to give back.
Tony: The whole idea of what we do is to try and be beneficial to people who are tired of using conventional pharmaceuticals to treat different issues that they're having. And since we don't sell any type of high THC product at all, for us, it's never been about a recreational use or anything like that. And so it is about helping, and the FDA doesn't allow us to make any claims about what our products are capable of. But I know personally when I use them that I experience a lot of relief, and I've had a lot of different customers experience relief all the way from children with cancer up to just very regular daily aches and pains.
Tony: There has been some evidence that CBD and THC are capable of killing cancer cells. And that's very interesting and exciting to me to hopefully in the future we'll see legitimate studies done and some real money spent trying to explore that further. And really actually be able to help people instead of what the pharmaceutical industry tends to do. Which is make money off of people's suffering and diseases. So, I'm excited where that could go.
Nicole: Yeah, that's awesome. I know that I've seen those studies as well and, and I think that that would be just incredible if we could find a cure for cancer or with cannabis.
Tony: Yeah, absolutely. And even just as simple as making a person in later stages more comfortable and not having to deal with the side effects of heavy narcotic opioid use and everything that comes along with that. It certainly has the potential to help with pain management in a way that opioids certainly aren't capable of.
Nicole: Yep. And we see that all the time when people are at end of life and they're very heavily medicated on opiates.
Tony: Yeah. They won't even be awake. They miss the last few days with their family. And cannabis has the potential to change that and allow them to spend that time with their families being conscious and present.
Nicole: Sure. Yeah, that's definitely some exciting stuff on the horizon, I think.
Tony: Yeah, I would love to see it go the right way and be dealt with correctly by the federal government. And I don't have much say in any of that, but it has the potential for good things to come from it.
Nicole: Absolutely. Yeah. Well, that's, yeah, I couldn't agree with you more. I don't really have any other burning questions floating around in my mind. Do you have anything else that you would like to add?
Tony: Well, I think I got it all out there. Just make sure if you're buying CBD products to do some research and find a good company that's doing the right thing and using the right extracts. And I'm always open to communication through the website anytime if people have questions about products or what they can possibly be used for. I am always open to speak with people and tell them what knowledge I have.
Nicole: Awesome. That's great. And where else can people find you other than the website?
Tony: Right now, we're in Salida, Colorado. Salida Hydroponic Supply carries our full line of products and Simple Foods carries our salves and tinctures. You can also get our salves at Vital Living in downtown Salida. That's my sister-in-law. She runs a health food supplement store down there and she actually makes around 200 products of her own in there.
Nicole: Oh wow.
Tony: She's got a huge, great store down there on F Street. We are not... Good Weed Company in Colorado Springs carry some of our vape cartridges and a couple of other products too, but we'd like to see ourselves in some more retail stores, but at this point we're not quite there yet.
Nicole: Sure, sure. And then if they wanted to get ahold of you, they can shoot you an email through your website, which like I said, we'll put a link, and then I know you're on Instagram because I totally geek out on your pictures on a daily basis.
Tony: Thank you. Yeah, West Creek CBD Connection on Instagram is a good place to go to see. It's a whole history of my company and how I grow and different methods I use and pictures of the farm and what we do. So yeah, that's another good place. I've done a lot of business on Instagram, and Instagram's been good to me as far as getting my name out there.
Nicole: That's awesome.
Tony: We do sell seeds also. If people are looking for seeds to grow their own hemp, whether it be on a large scale or just in a small grow room for their own use. We do that and we also have access to clones too, if people are interested.
Nicole: Awesome. Well, that's some fantastic information.
Tony: [inaudible 00:37:41]
Nicole: Yeah. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day to chat with us and explain to us your amazing growing techniques. I think the soil stuff is super interesting and I'm definitely going to have to do some more research into that because I want to learn more now.
Tony: Absolutely. There is a ton of information out there. There's a good book called Teaming with Microbes by Jeff Lowenfels, I believe, that has just a ton of information about regenerative soil and living organic soil. So, that's another good source of information.
Nicole: Very cool.
Tony: Google's got it all. It's got all the information you'd want to find.
Nicole: Yes, they do. Cool. Well, yeah, I'll definitely check that out and then, yeah, if anybody that has any questions feel free to, of course, give Tony an email and check out his amazing CBD products. They're the best on the market if you ask me.
Tony: Thank you.
Nicole: And yeah, so thank you again for joining us.
Tony: You're welcome.
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