Today we’d like to introduce you to BenJamin Batten.
Hi BenJamin, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
Hi, I am an accidental farmer and the managing partner of Fiddlers Green Farm in Taneytown, MD. Our family has owned our farm since 1948. It’s been passed down through many generations and different endeavors. Currently, we are growing certified organic hemp for our ultra-clean and sustainable CBD products we sell at farmer’s markets and our online store.
As recently as 4 years ago we were not actively farming the land but were renting it to other local farmers who farmed conventional soybeans and corn for feedstock. We decided we wanted to take the fields back under our control and transition to organic and regenerative farming practices. We started with hemp for CBD in 2019 after the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production of hemp.
We then began growing small grains such as rye and oats for malting and distilling. We are now adding heirloom wheat varieties for milling and baking. In addition, we’ve begun growing our small tribe of Boer goats. We also promote pollinators by planting wildflowers and beneficial tree species for bees that we keep. Our goal as a farm is to provide clean, sustainable plant products that support our community.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has been a challenge from day one but we have a great team that has overcome each obstacle so far and kept moving forward. First, we are not farmers by tradition so we are teaching ourselves farming practices as we go. It is a constant learning environment here. Regenerative and organic agriculture comes with added challenges that conventional farming doesn’t encounter the same way. We feel these challenges are worth the effort and create a more healthy end product for our community.
Second, we’ve taken on a crop in hemp that is very new with an emerging market and culture that has had a poor reputation in the past, to some. It’s a little bit like the wild west in the CBD industry right now but it is getting better and better. We are trying to change the stigmas around hemp by speaking with people face to face and sharing the real benefits of this amazing plant. We certainly run into our fair share of roadblocks in finding financial institutions that will work with us, access to grant money is denied for CBD in a lot of cases, and online marketing is restricted because of the same stigmas. Even though everything we are doing is completely legal at a state and federal level.
Of course, the biggest challenge is one all farmers face: Trying to make enough money from farm operations to justify the massive investment needed in time and money to make them happen. Farmers are usually at the short end of the stick when it comes to the percentage they receive from each dollar of a final product sold. This is why so many farmers must rely on government programs to support their operations and why we believe the only way to be fully sustainable and self-reliant is to create value-added products, not just a commodity.
So instead of selling raw hemp in bulk, we focus on turning that raw material into our own products to sell at retail. Similarly, we are aiming to do the same with our grains and will hopefully be milling our own for sale as flour for baking very soon.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
At Fiddlers Green Farm we are proudly one of two certified organic hemp growers in Maryland (the last I checked). Our CBD is cared for from seed to bottle with great intention to offer the most beneficial plant products possible. We are fully committed to restorative agriculture, social and environmental justice, and being stewards of the land. Our goal is to support the vitality of everyone within our community. To provide ethical, fair, honest, healthy, and kind action to each other and to the earth that provides for us. That means: Supporting local, quality, & going beyond organic.
We care deeply about what we put in our own bodies and how our daily decisions impact the world around us and afar. We choose our farming practices based on this and create products for people who share these beliefs as well. We are continually striving to increase sustainable practices on our farm in every aspect from how we fertilize our fields to the packaging of our products. Appreciating and respecting the natural world and working with it, not against it. We believe that not only do farms have the ability to make positive impacts in their communities and the environment, but it should also be their highest purpose.
Our products include topical and ingestible CBD produced from the certified organic hemp we grow on our farm. We grow small heirloom grains for malting, brewing, distilling, and baking. We raise boer goats for sale and for rotational grazing.
We also just began sharing our farm with people that want to get outside and experience a little bit of farm life with their friends and family. We host campers through HipCamp.com at two sites on our property, Big Pipe Creekside and Bear Branch Creekside. People can camp and hike our 3 miles of walking trails that take you through the fields and by the barn. It’s an awesome way for us to share this space and what we’re doing with our community.
We’d love to hear about how you think about risk-taking?
Personally, I have taken a risk in leaving my previous job that was secure and high-paying to build an enduring and resilient business on our farm. To take this risk you have to believe that what you’re doing has value and you’re doing it for the right reasons. The value is that we are helping our customers feel better and live happier lives. The reason isn’t to get rich. Too many companies use dollars and their bottom line to make all their decisions. This is not a sustainable way for a society to survive because eventually, the bill comes due for cutting corners. For me, the metric is creating value for our customers while not stripping the land of its resources. It is in knowing that our hard work and commitment to quality are actually doing much more good in the world than bad. Because I believe we are helping our community feel better while working towards a truly sustainable and resilient land resource, the risk is not too high and I sleep very well at night.
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: fiddlersgreen.io
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/
Kelly Heck and BenJamin Batten