Meet Brandie and Nicholas Young of Karma’s Krops Cultivators

 

by Victoria Ritter

Brandie and Nicholas Young of Stanley are gaining new experiences in the cannabis industry. Together, the husband-and-wife team founded Karma’s Krops Cultivators in an effort to “create happier and healthier communities by connecting people to the craft.”

“We’re just a normal, all-American family that happens to dabble in marijuana,” Brandie said.

The Youngs are no strangers to cannabis, as Brandie and her mom carried medical marijuana cards. When New York State legalized cannabis in 2021, Brandie and Nicholas decided to take things a step further and become hemp farmers. They obtained a license to grow, process and sell CBD.

The farm, located just a few minutes south in Prattsburgh, is comprised of 25 acres. However, Brandie and Nicholas only grow flower in one acre.

“It’s a farm-to-table operation,” Brandie explained. “It’s nice because people can actually talk to us and we know exactly where the hemp comes from, where it’s grown, what are the pros and cons.”

 

Growing pains and pay-offs

The Youngs quickly realized there was a big learning curve as they transitioned from growing cannabis inside to having it flourish outdoors. Brandie and Nicholas learned first-hand how hemp farming is labor-intensive and time-consuming, with little to no outside assistance.

“There are no outlets,” Brandie said. “You could farm anything else in the world and there’s all kinds of teachings available. With hemp, nobody wants to help. We called. There’s not one hemp farmer in New York who would give us advice.”

Soil quality was a major factor to the plants’ health. As Brandie and Nicholas went with an organic approach, using chemical fertilizers were out of the question. After some research they discovered that all their soil needed was pelletized chicken manure.

In order to keep their plants healthy, the Youngs buy worms in bulk and let their castings fertilize the soil. Nicholas introduced certain bugs such as predatory mites, ladybugs and praying mantises to protect the plants above ground.

“We have a pond where we keep fish,” Brandie said. “Nicholas pumps the pond water to irrigate the hemp field. We’ve created our own ecosystem to stay away from chemicals as much as we can.”

The Youngs plan to grow half of their next crop outdoor, half in a hoop house.

As the hemp industry provides very few opportunities for smaller businesses such as Karma’s Krops to thrive, the Youngs have diversified their crop. This past year, they grew Bristol Extract’s Blonde 51 for hemp alongside 15 hybrid strains.

Brandie and Nicholas are also the proud cultivators of their own marijuana strain, Marriage Counseling. This strain, bred from a CBD plant and a hybrid, can be grown indoors or outside. “We’ve been breeding it for about five years now,” Nicholas said. “We created a strain that’s high in CBD and THC – 10 percent and 10 percent.

“To create your own strain, it takes four years minimum and then you still got to fine tune it,” he added. “We keep tweaking it.”

While their first harvest didn’t go according to plan, Brandie and Nicholas’ latest harvest was a great success, with several pounds reaped. “This was a whole other level,” Brandie recalled. “Our Gator was full. I couldn’t even see Nicholas as he was bringing down plants to hang.”

Enough to go around

Once harvested, the Youngs hang the plants to dry before trimming, curing, processing and shredding the flower. They have access to labs, so they are able to test their biomass and see how much CBD and THC they have. The Youngs then create pre-rolls and tinctures, with Nicholas handling the creation of edibles including gummies, cookies and brownies.

Having grown and processed their own cannabis brings a sense of pride and contentment to the Youngs. When cooking, the lab test results let them know the exact measurements of THC in each serving.

The Youngs have a small network of customers; they even provide home delivery of CBD products to elderly clients. Karma’s Krops’ products are not potent, as Brandie and Nicholas like to include older generations and those who are “canna-curious” in the cannabis community.

“Older people are using it medicinally or just to take the edge off,” Brandie said. “They don’t want to be stoned out of their mind or get a panic attack because they took too many bites of a cookie.”

 

Forging a different path

As with other independent farmers, processors and retailers in New York, the Youngs are frustrated with the current condition of the state’s cannabis industry. Among the many challenges Brandie and Nicholas have faced are the lack of hemp processors and cannabis-friendly banks; there are no loans or financial support available for CBD farmers. “A lot of banks won’t even let me do banking with them,” Brandie said, adding they started Karma’s Krops with their own money, so they had to start small. “I feel bad for a lot of the farmers and people who have put a lot of money into this business.”

“There’s definitely still a stigma,” Nicholas added.

The Youngs are especially discouraged to see how medical companies are entering the market before smaller businesses have had a chance to open and get their feet under them.

“We’re the little guy,” Nicholas said. “We know how it feels, as we see the medical companies come in.”

Brandie recently applied for a microbusiness license for Karma’s Krops, but she’s not holding her breath on the chance it will be issued. Instead, the Youngs are setting out to thrive in the cannabis market on their own terms.

“I always want to do hemp and CBD,” Brandie said. “I’m very big on the medicinal side of hemp. Plus, there’s a lot of other things that hemp brings to the table. The hemp seeds are good for you. The fiber can be utilized in many different ways.”

The Youngs, who own a commercial cleaning company, have business experience to rely on. Now, they are focusing on implementing an educational component. They have taught classes at regional institutions, offering their expertise on how people can grow in their own homes. They will even come to homes to help home growers through the cultivation procedure.

“We’ll supply the clone, help you grow it and help you through the whole process,” Brandie said. “Then you have your own plant. At the end of the day, it’s going to mean so much more when you’re smoking your own product.”

“We’re big on the education. We love teaching people,” Nicholas said.

Brandie and Nicholas started posting videos on their YouTube channel, Karma’s Korner 420, in January, reviewing 30 strains in 30 days. They plan to add more videos about cultivation and cooking with cannabis. Additionally, they have a customizable cookbook, strain tracker and grow journals published through Amazon which are geared to helping people grow cannabis. Down the line, Brandie hopes to open a health and wellness store to sell their CBD alongside natural lotions and hemp products from local farmers.

The Youngs have no illusions of grandeur about working in the cannabis industry. They appreciate how cannabis brings people together and want to continue to foster that camaraderie.

“We said we got to get into the grey market so at least we can get in somehow,” Brandie stated. “We have a lot to bring to the table and we can’t wait on the state to pick and choose who they feel have a lot to bring to the table.”

Karma’s Krops can be reached through its website karmaskrops.com, Instagram page @karmaskrops and YouTube channel Karma’s Korner 420.

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