A Minnesota Farm Boy Gets Back to His Roots

In May of this year I met Chadwick Lange at a MN Hemp Association meeting. We had a great initial conversation around the Minnesota hemp industry and he mentioned to me that he had recently moved back to Owatonna, MN to pursue growing hemp and CBD on his family‘s land. I had just attended AURI‘s, “Hemp Now and On The Horizon” roundtable discussion and I offered to share links to the videos that I had recorded which featured Just Bio Fiber, Hemp Acres, Midwest Hemp Farms, and Margaret Wiatrowski from the MN pilot program, along with Harold from AURI who facilitated the roundtable discussion. Chadwick shared with me how his family had been asparagus farmers in past generations and how they had achieved great success. I could tell that Chadwick was determined to grow hemp and bring his family farm back to prominence.

Tonna Agra strategically operates multiple plots of land using various farming strategies that impact the spacing and weeding techniques. Some of his plants were grown with feminized seeds and others with non-feminized seeds. He showed us examples of these differences throughout the day. By gathering data on the different methods and studying what works best for him, Chadwick is able to review and analyze what works best. By utilizing a diverse planting strategy, he is setting himself up with a diversified knowledge base that will provide immense value for the years ahead.

Being a hemp farmer in 2019 can be compared to setting up and launching an agricultural startup. Owner/Operators have to constantly pivot as they face unpredictable weather conditions, and in these early years they are attempting to 5x, 10x, or 100x if you’re Tonna Agra. It’s not easy. Asking a farmer like Chadwick for two hours of his time to do interviews and a tour doesn’t really fit his schedule. He’s overseeing multiple crews of employees who are working across several plots of lands which are all strategically placed across the town of Owatonna.

After a few failed attempts to connect, I quickly had to change my approach. I learned that if I was going to be able to get to the farm, I was going to have to be flexible and be willing to take what time the farmer had and work with it. I tweaked my approach and made sure to emphasize that I was attempting to develop a valuable relationship. It was important for me to convey that I wanted to learn and provide value to him in the form of media.

When my creative partner Cooper Ruddock and I got the go ahead to meet Chadwick on his farm and shoot content of the hemp CBD plants we agreed to focus on the plants. But it became apparent quickly that there was an underlying story about family on the fields of Tonna Agra. There’s an all hands on deck feeling when you’re around the Lange family. In the short afternoon that we were there, we met Chadwick‘s mom, sister, and three of his nieces. They see the potential in farming for CBD and their generational family background provides them the confidence needed to successfully farm over 150 acres of this new crop.

Hemp farmers are extremely busy during the summer, especially when they’ve planted over 100 acres. If you want to learn and interact with the operators of Minnesota’s hemp and CBD industry, you have to be willing to meet them on their time. I’ve been able to learn more about hemp farming and what it takes to be a hemp farmer by keeping in touch with Chadwick this summer and by visiting his farm last weekend. So much opportunity is readily available for the owners and operators of CBD businesses. The ones that are succeeding are going out there every day and doing it, making it happen!