After cultivating 12 acres of organic hemp during the first legal season of 2020, Bluestem Prairie Organic Hemp, LLC founder Bridget Chambers had a unique problem.
An excellent crop, far more than could be used immediately to make a variety of products containing CBD oil, left it with no real need to plant hemp again in 2022.
It had a full shed and an empty greenhouse.
Thus, the idea of growing flowers flourished.
“We have to use it for other things,” said Chambers. “Flowers are in my head. Look at this empty greenhouse, we should grow plants.”
Chambers is a lawyer with a practice in Webster City. She specializes in criminal law appeals.
“This is a hobby that has become a business,” she said. “I always hoped it would, but I’m still a full-time lawyer.”
To help the flowers, herbs, and hemp have a green start before that, he enlisted the help of Kim Peterson of Callender as a greenhouse manager. Peterson arrived with 22 years of experience at Eddies Greenhouse in Fort Dodge.
“They also know me as the plant whisperer,” said Peterson. “It simply came to our notice then. Bridget was one of my clients; I always helped her. When they decided to grow hemp, he called me. “
Chambers is deeply grateful for Peterson’s part in the success of the operation.
“I probably wouldn’t have done it if you weren’t available.” Chambers told him among the many colorful flowers that surround them in the greenhouse. “I’m glad I graduated.”
Some of the flowers available in the greenhouse were grown from then on, others from purchased seedlings. All of this receives the same tender loving care of Peterson.
“I’m the mother, these are all my children,” said Peterson.
Chambers easily confirms this.
“Yesterday he had a magnifying glass looking for insects,” she said.
While Peterson wore his 10 green digits, Chambers still has his fingers on the ground.
“I handle weeds before and after work,” she said.
Peterson said the secret is to know the natural cycles of plants, when they need fertilizer, how much to water and when.
But does she talk to them?
“Well, of course.” said Peterson.
Does he answer?
“Oh yes,” he said with a wink and a gesture toward the thousands of plants. “They’re flourishing, they’re happy.”
Another talent Peterson brought with her is to time the growth cycle of different flowers and herbs. She said most greenhouse operations try to have a maximum collection from Mother’s Day.
Neither has a favorite.
“All of them for me,” said Peterson. “I like to see the seeds germinate; it ‘s fascinating for me to see them grow. “
Like so many other start-ups, there were challenges. Among them were supply chain problems caused by the COVID pandemic.
“We started during COVID,” said Chambers. “What do you mean, ‘you don’t have’ was a common part of that?”
The use of ecological methods and products was another difficulty that had to be overcome.
“Organic products can be hard to find,” she added.
The couple asks consumers to be a little careful. The cold, wet spring has been less than ideal for planting.
“It’s a late spring,” said Chambers. “We’ve had a freeze this week. It’s supposed to be nice next week. Be careful.”
To help your customers, you now have the option to buy a basket or flower pot and pick it up later.
“They can stay here until Mother’s Day,” said Peterson.
There is also plenty on hand for the garden; they have a selection of tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables from the garden as well as herbs. Although they are not certified, they do use organic practices.
“This means there are no growth regulators or chemical aerosols.” said Chambers.
Chambers hopes to grow more hemp in the future as needed. Be careful to point out that hemp, even though it belongs to the same plant family, is not the same as marijuana, which is illegal to grow in Iowa.
“It’s all from the same plant family,” said Chambers. “They are different varieties. Hemp contains approximately 0.03 percent THC. Teenagers know this; we had no problem. “
“People looking for marijuana know that’s not it.” Peterson added.
The greenhouse is located at 2522 Tunnel Mill Road, south of Webster City. Its hours are from 8:00 to 18:00 every day until June. For more information on CBD hemp products available, visit bluestemhempfarm.com.
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