It’s a family business for Dream Catcher Farm in Dudley, Massachusetts. We had the pleasure of visiting with owners Gian and Bryanna Rianucci right before harvest time to chat about all things “outdoor.”
How long have you been growing hemp at Dream Catcher Farm?
This year will be our fourth harvest growing here on the farm.
What types of organic growing practices do you focus on to help maintain quality outdoor crops?
What helps is us having the animals, so we have a lot of compost and a lot of natural additives that we can use. We also have bees on the property and we let a lot of the natural environment grow – instead of mowing and manicuring – so that nature can have a chance to work the way it is supposed to.
How can droughts affect local farmers such as yourself? How do you deal with low water conditions?
The low water levels this year were honestly one of the toughest situations that we have faced throughout the couple years of us farming. It was worrisome to even water the field, because we have so many animals (and obviously ourselves) needing water to survive. So we definitely had to prioritize where we used our water this year. And the only real way around that is to dig a new well or a deeper well. So as a farmer, that’s kind of your only option.
As agriculturalists, what types of unique challenges do you face working under the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR)?
The only thing that is really unfortunate about working under the MDAR is how far the people are being stretched through the state. There are literally two people running the entire program … And they don’t really have much say in the rules that are being made. So the only people that are coming in contact with these farmers directly don’t even really get a say. But they do make it very difficult for farmers to go from growing the product to making your own product, which is very unfortunate. There are a lot of rules and regulations that don’t necessarily work in the farmers’ favor, which is sad because being a farmer is already difficult enough.
Do you plan on breeding your own hemp strains? What do you look for when sourcing your hemp genetics to grow in New England?
We have not experimented with breeding our own genetics yet, but as far as sourcing the hemp, it’s really just about finding someone that is passionate about it in the same way that you are – so you know you’re getting a quality start. And luckily the hemp industry people really look out for each other, so we have met a lot of great people along the way that have helped us become the success we are today.
Any tips or advice you’d give to local growers so that they can assure their own success?
With farming you never know what you’re getting into that year weather-wise, rain-wise or with water levels, so all we can really say is be prepared for anything and surround yourself with people that are educated in farming – so you have resources to go to when you do need help.
Where can Leaf readers find your hemp products to try for themselves?
We have a retail store in Webster, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island. Products are also available at our café – Blackstone Herbs and Coffee Bar in Coventry, Rhode Island!
City: Dudley Mass
Tier Status/Canopy Size Sq. Feet: 2.7 acres
Number of plants: 2500
Number of FT/PT employees: 3 PT
Signature strain: Platinum Cookies Hemp