EUGENE, Ore. — Inspired by the burgeoning CBD industry, Jonathan Cook began to look into the potentials of hemp. In 2016, after months of research, Cook partnered with Max Sassenfeld to found Resonance Farm.
“(We) concluded that the idea to bring a hemp product to market could be economically viable if (we) grew the hemp, extracted it and formulated a retail ready CBD-rich oil,” Cook said.
Resonance Farm now produces cannabidiol (CBD) oil and cannabigerol (CBG) oil using organic farming practices.
Sassenfeld owned and operated Tani Creek Farm, a certified organic farm on Bainbridge Island, Wash., for 10 years. His focus was producing vegetables for farmers markets.
Cook has been part of Eugene’s food and restaurant community since 2001 and is a working CSA member at Camas Swale Farm in nearby Coburg.
Along with the better known CBD, Resonance Farm produces CBG. Unlike CBD, CBG reacts with the cannabinoid receptors of the brain while being non-psychoactive.
The same equipment is used for both CBD and CBG. They use a traditional method of hang drying and slow cure their hemp, “which is more labor intensive, but yields a superior quality product,” Cook said.
No petrochemicals are used in the production of the oil. It’s all extracted with carbon dioxide, which is the cleanest method for botanical extractions.
The biggest challenge was the learning curve of pioneering an industry that hadn’t existed for decades, Cook said.
In 2017, the supply chain for hemp and CBD products was virtually nonexistent.
“We had to create a network of clients,” he said.
In 2017-2018 they grew more hemp than they could process and had to sell their biomass to other processors for around $50 a pound.
In 2019, prices dropped due to an influx of large scale hemp producers creating more supply than demand.
“We grew less volume and switched focus to building our own brand,” Cook said.
“In 2021 the supply chain has matured and there is more access to raw materials, creating more competition,” he said.
The other challenge was the logistics of growing and harvesting hemp in Oregon’s variable weather.
“We lost a huge percentage of our 2019 harvest due to heavy rains in mid-September,” said Gretl Gauthier, the farm manager.
Although the outbreak of COVID-19 that March was another challenge, Gauthier said they didn’t have any plants in the ground at the time. This allowed them to take the time to implement safe practices at the farm and at their facility.
Despite the uncertainty created by COVID, “internet and Lane County Farmers Market sales remained steady,” Cook said.
This year, their focus is investigating several new avenues to bring hemp products to the retail market.
“Our plan is to continue to strengthen and maintain our integrity as a reputable field-to-shelf company,” he said.
While it’s rewarding to create jobs and contribute to the community, Cook said the most rewarding aspect of what they do is “creating products that positively impact people’s lives.”