The 2018 US Farm Bill has now legalized commercial production of hemp. Hemp farmers across the country are now working to fit into a rapidly growing billion dollar industry.
Green Heffa Farms is an industrial hemp farm dedicated to growing high-quality strands for a global market. We spoke to owners Clarenda “Cee” Stanley-Anderson and her husband, Malcolm Anderson Sr. to find out how they balance business and marriage.
How did you both meet?
Cee: We met at a house party. The woman lived in my neighborhood at the time. Malcolm had never met her before but was invited by one of his coworkers. I almost didn’t attend but decided to at the last minute. Malcolm was the one who answered the door when I knocked and when he opened it…
Malcolm: Boom. Magic. I saw her aura. She had locs back then and light was coming from them.
Cee: He also told me his name was Joe and neglected to mention that he had a whole girlfriend. We could write a book on our relationship.
Malcolm: I got her, though.
What inspired you to start Green Heffa Farms?
Cee: We started for a few reasons. Malcolm was going through a career transition after a twenty-year federal career in military and civil service. Unfortunately, his time as an active duty soldier also left him with PTSD.
We both have family members dealing with serious health issues. Lastly, and most importantly, we are a blended family with six children and three grandchildren.
Black families continue to lag behind in the wealth accumulation race thanks to good ole’ oppression. A recent study states that white households have nearly 6.5 times the wealth of black families.
Malcolm: We want to leave a lasting legacy and help close that gap for our future generations. That is why we decided to make Green Heffa a social equity farm founded on four principles that we call the 4Es: Economic Empowerment, Education, Equity, and Environment.
What common misconceptions are there about the hemp plant?
Malcolm: The biggest misconception is that this plant will make you high. The THC in hemp is negligible . I compare hemp and THC cannabis to a chihuahua and a wolf. Both are canines, but one has been bred to be your pet and live in a domestic environment while the other still hunts and lives in the wild.
What is the most important thing your partner has taught you?
Cee: I call Malcolm the “Hemp Whisperer”. He has taught me so much about growing this plant.
Malcolm: My wife is a go-getter. The word NO seems to motivate her. She has taught me about the power of tenacity. And she introduced me to overalls. These things are like denim onesies. I would sleep in them if I could.
In what ways do you both have similar entrepreneurial traits and in what ways are you different as entrepreneurs?
Malcolm: We can both work a room. Cee is an ambivert which means she is actually an introvert but can flip the extrovert switch on in a room full of people. I am an extrovert by nature so I am always on. She is definitely the more business- minded one and heads up our marketing and branding. I am happy growing plants all day. Cee is also more deadline driven while I prefer a more organic schedule. This is our biggest area of tension.
What advice do you have for those who are considering starting a hemp related business?
Malcolm: Do your research. Understand the costs and the risks as there are still a lot of unknowns in this emerging industry. And start small if you plan on growing for the nutraceutical market. It is about quality over quantity.
What some insights and thoughts you have on the future of the industry?
Cee: Now is the time to get in and make your mark. They are estimating this market will be valued at $20 billion In the next 5 years. Find your niche, make your mark, and constantly look for ways to diversify and scale.
Right now, the entire cannabis industry is whitewashed. We have to change that. Nobody has suffered more than black and brown people over this plant so we should be first in line for the green.
-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson (IG @thebusyafrican)