Tess Interlicchia’s Grateful Valley is the farm behind Garlic Butter, a real crowd pleaser at the FLX Harvest Fest this November. In addition to growing cannabis for the last three+ years, Tess is raising two children, going to school, and practicing family medicine at a wellness center in Corning – one that she and a partner founded a year ago. We talked to her recently about her win.
FLX420: What did you like about Garlic Butter?
Tess: I know this is probably super uncool, but I’m sober so I’ve never tried it. I love to grow it, though! With a lot of dark purple, Garlic Butter is a gorgeous plant – a visual standout.
I took it to Canandaigua based on input from my team. Garlic Butter made them “ridiculously giddy” with “hysterical laughing,” they said. It is also very relaxing with a savory flavor. The called it a coucher.
Was Harvest Fest your first competition?
Yes, and I will absolutely do more! It was great to meet everybody. I love how cannabis brings everybody together: the hippies, the young folk, and even seniors with walkers.
What led you to grow cannabis?
I’m a nurse practitioner, and I had been working with patients in addiction management, family practice, and pain management. With the help of cannabis, people were able to get off heroine, benzos and opiates. It was wonderful to see.
I enjoyed recreational cannabis as a teenager, and it has been incredible to use its health benefits as an adult. Plus, I love to farm.
Was your path to cannabis-as-medicine a personal journey?
It really was. I was dealing with chronic pain from autoimmune disorders and with cannabis, I was able to get off some really nasty pharmaceuticals. I’m at a point where I don’t need THC anymore and I’m concentrating on the other cannabinoids, including CBD and CBN.
How long have you been growing cannabis?
I purchased the farm in May 2019, applied for my hemp conditional license that June and got it in July. Then, during COVID, I was working at a walk-in clinic that did not provide me with any PPE. With my auto-immune disorders, I was terrified. I quit, I had no plans, and said, “I’m just going to farm cannabis.”
Do you have a background in farming?
My family were farmers in Sicily. Here, my grandparents grew vegetables and I just loved that growing up. I always wanted to be a farmer.
You also wanted to be a nurse?
Yes. Both of my parents were registered nurses, and my grandmother was an RN back in the 1940s. I went further and became a nurse practitioner. Currently I’m working on my psychiatric master’s degree so I can be more of a functional medical psychiatrist.
How long have you been a nurse?
I’ve been a registered nurse for 20 years and became a board-certified nurse practitioner five years ago.
What are your goals for Grateful Valley Farm?
I want to continue to grow good medicine organically using regenerative farming practices. I love the idea that cannabis is incredibly nutritious, and, at the same time, it can be used as a replacement for plastics and paper! It’s so versatile. It’s beautiful to use it every which way.
I have lots of ideas. Adream of mine is to use Grateful Valley to teach young folks how to farm. I think it would be valuable for them to have elders they could turn to for support and guidance.
Tell me about Root to Rise Wellness Center.
We are on Market Street in Corning. I practice family medicine there and my partner is a midwife focusing on women’s health. The center offers a combination of therapies –reiki, yoga, meditation, and traditional Western medicine – to treat and heal the whole person. It’s been open for about a year and business is booming. We are finally able to take insurances.
Coming on board soon is a certified mental health therapist.
What excites you the most about New York’s legal market?
That it gives us the opportunity to get rid of the stigma that has surrounded cannabis for so long. I would love to see it help people get off alcohol. Legal cannabis gives people more options to make good choices.