Scott Sparks is no stranger to working closely with members of his local community. Before he was the owner of Vermont Hempicurean in Brattleboro, he had a lengthy career in the food service industry and food sales. The last decade or so of his profession proved to put those very skills to the test as vice president of sales for a local distributor in Vermont, supplying restaurants and stores with farm-to-table products. Sparks’ main focus has always remained simple: helping to ensure the livelihood and sanctity of local farmers and valuing their importance on environmental and economical scales.

“The primary focus of our business is supporting Vermont hemp farmers,” Sparks said. “Ninety-five percent of our CBD products are from Vermont.”

Illuminating and engaging people in the possibilities of hemp solutions will not only provide relief for the customers, it will also aid in the ultimate prosperity of local businesses and the environment.

According to the Vermont Hempicurean website (vthempicurean.com), hemp is a member of the cannabis sativa family, but the levels of tetrahydracanninol (THC) are far too low for people to feel the psycho-active effects. Hemp is known as a natural resource with dense, strong fibers, and can even be used as an alternative for making paper or cloth.

The hemp seeds themselves can be processed for either cannabidol (CBD) or hemp oil — both extractions have proven to have several health benefits. CBD products can help people for a variety of reasons, from stress to anxiety and sleep issues to pain relief. Hemp oil can be used in foods or for cosmetic purposes and external pain relief ointments. CBD plants typically take longer to fully develop and be ready for harvesting than recreational marijuana and are usually harvested carefully by hand.

Buying CBD products from places like Vermont Hempicurean guarantees potent and pure products. These particular plants require extremely fertile soil; Vermont’s decedent dirt yields excellent product, as local hemp farmers that hand-harvest the plants are constantly improving the quality of production while minding the environment around them. Rural hemp farmers take special care in their cultivation process, managing to effectively expand production without jeopardizing the land and safeguarding the extraction process for future generations. The time and effort that goes into ensuring the plants thrive in a healthy and happy environment is well worth the price of products in local CBD stores throughout Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Vermont Hempicurean works closely with a hemp farm right down the road from the store itself. Bordertown Farm opened up in 2017 as an organic hemp farm, harvesting it by hand for high-quality, full-spectrum CBD purposes. Partnering with farms such as Bordertown has helped Vermont Hempicurean craft a carefully curated menu of local “farm-to-body” products, including CBD gummies, salves, full-spectrum capsules, edibles, products for dogs and even for chamomile tea. In addition, Sparks and his team have helped shape a small network of hemp farms, all of which are ultimately striving toward the same goal: creating a stable hemp economy. Some of the other Vermont-based hemp farms Vermont Hempicurean works with include Northeast Kingdom Hemp in Barton; Vermont Farmacy in Waterbury; Upstate Elevator Supply Company and Sun Soil, both located in Burlington; and Vermont Pure in Vergennes.

The history of marijuana and hemp plants throughout United States history has proven tough to break through, even by today’s standards. When Sparks first opened his store in 2018, he tried selling hemp products in various forms, including hemp rope and paper. Unfortunately, the products received little interest from the public.

“Part of the issue is that there is no hemp fiber processing on any kind of scale in the U.S.,” Sparks said. “The products I sold came from places like Romania, Hungary and India. The end cost was much more than the non-hemp-derived products.”

With the recent steps made toward the federal legalization of marijuana and hemp, local hemp farms can continue to grow and expand their products and research. Although hemp is still a highly regulated crop for both personal and industrial production, simply recognizing the importance, diversity and sheer opportunity this plant can provide is a great place to start.

Vermont Hempicurean is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from 12 to 4 p.m. They offer curbside pickup or you can have products shipped to your homes. Learn more at vthempicurean.com, facebook.com/vthempicurean, and instagram.com/vermonthempicurean.