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July 26, 2019

Big commercial hemp farm planned near Warrenton

Photos/Lawrence Emerson
Although hemp can be grown as a field crop for fiber, the company focuses on carefully-tended plants for high-value CBD oil production.
This is pretty much a new venture — not just for us, but other farmers as well.
— Simply Good Hemp President Kamran Hakimi
Simply Good Hemp
• What: Prince William County-based, family-owned company that expects next spring to plant up to 200 acres of hemp for commercial use on its recently-purchased farm along Meetze Road just southeast of Warrenton.

• President: Kamran Hakimi of Lorton

• Employees: 7

• Planned structures: 4 greenhouses totaling 17,000 to 30,000 square feet; 10,000-square foot hemp processing plant; 5,000-square-foot plant drying facility; a 2,200-square-foot trailer for offices; a laboratory to test plants and create hemp extracts.

• Details: Two ago weeks, the Hakimi family paid $2.6 million for the 531-acre farm near Warrenton. Next spring, the company expects to plant 200 acres of hemp. That will require it to hire about 40 people. Simply Good Hemp owns a 64-acre farm off Route 29 in Prince William, just north of New Baltimore. It cultivates six acres of hemp there.

• Production target: Company hopes to grow one million pounds of hemp per year by the mid-2020s. Meeting that goal would require 75 to 100 workers at the Meetze Road property and perhaps leasing additional land and “partnering” with others who grow hemp, according to the company.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
With a big boost from its 531-acre Fauquier farm, a family-owned company aims to become Virginia’s top producer of hemp, legal for cultivation in the state only since March.

Just southeast of Warrenton, the property along Meetze Road will position Simply Good Hemp to grow one million pounds of crop per year by the mid-2020s, President Kamran Hakimi said.

“That’s the goal,” Mr. Hakimi, 39, said of the production target.

Through Uxbridge Holding LLC, the Hakimi family two weeks ago paid $2.6 million for the farm at 8721 Meetze Road.

Last year, the Ahmadiyya Movement Islam Inc. proposed conducting religious retreats on the property and had a contract to buy it. But, faced with fierce opposition, the group in January withdrew its special exception permit application.

Processed hemp has widespread uses, including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable packaging, insulation, biofuel, food and animal feed. Human use of the plant dates to approximately 8,000 B.C.

Initially, Simply Good Hemp will focus on plant “extractions,” including oil, that can be incorporated into food, beverages, applied to skin and taken orally.

He uses a dropper of hemp oil per day under his tongue to ease anxiety, said Mr. Hakimi, who lives near Lorton.

“I really, truly believe in this product,” said the residential real estate investor, who in 2014 started and later sold a successful company that manufactures therapeutic prayer mats. “I use it myself and see the results of it.”

Founded in April, Simply Good Hemp has big ideas for the Fauquier farm.

Under a multimillion-dollar plan, the company early next year plans to construct four greenhouses, totaling 17,000 to 30,000 square feet. The structures will be used to grow hemp plants from seed and clones.

It also will install a 2,200-square-foot structure for offices at the farm, where the business will be based, Mr. Hakimi said.

Next May and June, workers will plant up to 200 acres of hemp, he said.

The crop requires a state license but no county government approvals.

It will require about 40 workers to tend up to 200,000 plants. If the business expands as envisioned, Simply Good Hemp eventually could employ 75 to 100 people “on site,” Mr. Hakimi added.

“Depending on your skill set,” workers will earn $15 to $21 per hour or more, said Business Development Director Joe Hakimi, the president’s cousin. “It’s a young company that’s willing and able.”

The farm should be a certified organic operation in three years, according to the company.

Two on-site wells will be used to irrigate the crops.

In phases over the next few years, the company plans to construct:

• A laboratory to test plants and create hemp extracts.

• A 5,000-square-foot drying facility. Hemp flowers, seeds and portions of stems would be dried and packaged for shipment to processors.

• A 10,000-square-foot hemp processing plant.

Mr. Hakimi declined to estimate the total investment in the Fauquier property until it gets construction bids for the planned improvements.

“We have not done our due-diligence all the way,” he said.

Meeting the million-pound production mark in about six years might require leasing additional land and perhaps “partnering” with others who grow hemp, Mr. Hakimi suggested.

“This is pretty much a new venture — not just for us, but other farmers as well,” he said.

The family’s hemp farm off Route 29 in Prince William County just north of New Baltimore also will contribute to the effort.

Of the farm’s 64 acres, the company’s five workers cultivate about 10,000 hemp plants on six acres of flat land.

The family bought that farm last year for $2.2 million, Mr. Hakimi said.

Based on his research, hemp developed for cannabidiol products could generate $20,000 to $50,000 in revenue per acre, company Lead Project Manager Ryan Pirault explained Wednesday during a tour of the Prince William farm.

If those numbers pan out, the Fauquier farm could generate $4 million to $10 million in revenue during its first year.

At the high end, meticulously maintained plants — requiring intense hands-on care —could yield $100,000 per acre, Mr. Pirault said.

Using no pesticides or herbicides, workers at the Prince William farm pull weeds and pick bugs from plants, he said.

When mature, the plants typically stand 3- to 8-feet tall. Workers will harvest them one-by-one with loppers and machetes.

“I’m still working out the numbers” for per-acre production costs, Mr. Hakimi said.

In December, President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill that removed hemp from the federal government’s controlled drug category.

To conform with federal law, the Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly adopted and Gov. Ralph Northam (D) in March signed legislation permitting the industrial production of hemp. That triggered a stampede to obtain state licenses to grow, process and sell the products derived from the crop.

As of July 19, the Virginia Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services had issued 897 grower, 174 processor and 45 dealer licenses statewide, according to the agency.

VDACS has issued 16 grower and four processor licenses to Fauquier residents.

Simply Good Hemp has grower and producer licenses, Mr. Hakimi said.

“Generally, a significant number of Virginia's hemp production fields are in Southside Virginia,” VDACS Policy Analyst Erin Williams wrote in email. “Mecklenburg County has the most registered industrial hemp growers, with at least one production field in that county.”

Based on their applications, licensed hemp growers collectively plan to farm 10,000 acres of the crop, VDACS Communications Director Elaine Lidholm said.

“It used to be a very important crop in Virginia, until the 1930s when the federal government put it on the list of controlled substances,” Ms. Lidholm explained.

The plants’ THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) levels cannot exceed the federal government threshold of three-tenths of 1 percent.

VDACS nursery inspectors randomly will visit hemp farms and test crops, Ms. Lidholm said.

Plants that violate the THC limit must be destroyed, Ms. Lidholm said.

For that reason, hemp farming “is risky,” she said. “But, it has the potential to be a very profitable crop.”

The company will explore the gamut of hemp product opportunities, Mr. Hakimi said.

For example, he hopes to talk with Under Armour, the Baltimore-based manufacturer of footwear and sports and casual apparel about producing hemp for its products.

“We’re trying to find our path,” Mr. Hakimi said. “We want to see which road to take. Are we going to stick with tinctures? Are we going to create biodegradable straws?

“These are things that are unforeseen. But we’re working on them, slowly.”

Like many industries in their infancy, hemp farming presents unknowns, he suggested.

Mr. Hakimi likens it to the “Wild West.”

Still, “We’re very excited,” he said. “We’re stoked.”

Contact Don Del Rosso at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-0300.
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Linda Ward · July 31, 2019 at 10:01 am
"Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the chemical compound responsible for marijuana's psychoactivity and euphoria and is usually screened for in a typical urine drug test. ... Therefore, consuming high quantities of CBD oil will leave enough THC in your system to trigger a positive test result and cause impairment."

Some of us would need to be under a doctor's care and with a legal prescription to consume CBD for health reasons. Not worth jeopardizing my security clearance and job.
Silii · July 31, 2019 at 8:34 am
thanks for caring. Unfortunately, our country is all about Trump these days. I'm just reflecting the truth. Meanwhile the hemp farm - I support farmers and hope these folks are successful.
Crazyalice · July 30, 2019 at 12:54 pm
Silli, slow your roll this is about weed not Trump. Suffering from TDS ( Trump Derangement Syndrome)
DonkeyFarmer · July 30, 2019 at 12:40 pm
Good grief Silli you make everything about Trump. You are obsessed. Get help.
Silii · July 30, 2019 at 8:03 am
Angry Bob - They won't need a fence. Remember, we live in a conservative, Christian oriented, family-values county that loves Trump and all his hatred, racism, lying, adultery, misogynism, cheating, and fascist values!!
Crazyalice · July 29, 2019 at 9:19 pm
How do I get a job there?
Zachem56 · July 27, 2019 at 12:01 pm
So who DIDN’T proofread this article? Whoever read this and said it was ready to print needs to go back to school! Now back to the article. It’s 2019 and studies have shown that not only does marijuana treat a multitude of medical conditions, but CBD has been a non-THC lifesaver. All you folks out there that are so against this should come to terms with it and worry about more important issues like our environment and our corrupt government!
Mark House · July 26, 2019 at 7:54 pm
"The plants’ THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) levels cannot exceed the federal government threshold of three-tenths of 1 percent."

With THC levels that low it's basically "ditch" weed. Not worth the trouble of trespassing to sneak some.
AngryBob · July 26, 2019 at 1:27 pm
They'd better build a BIG fence around the place.
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