Syrup farm owners in Greenfield Center eye cannabis license


GREENFIELD – Local maple syrup β€œtastes better,” according to the website of Twin Leaf Farms, a new brand based on old land in Saratoga County. Now its owners are preparing to market a similar offering for another leaf: marijuana.

While the land and house next to Twin Leaf have been in Claudia Bright’s family for seven generations, she and her husband, Kevin Bright, bought the farm about four years ago, when the previous owner – who l ‘had managed himself for decades – was looking out. Public records show that they registered the mark in August 2019.

β€œSince then, we have improved the maple syrup operation,” said Kevin Bright. He explained, from a couch in the couple’s home near Saratoga County, how vacuum pumps and a few additional staff members allowed them to double their output to 150 gallons last year.

Sitting in his Lincoln Logs-style New York cabin, the open-faced man settled down with his wife in front of a purple accent wall reminiscent of the interiors made famous by Rachel and Monica’s Manhattan apartment in the sitcom ‘Friends’ from the 1990s – a mega-bit of which Kevin Bright was executive producer, along with David Crane and Marta Kauffman.

Kevin Bright was a Manhattan native himself, ultimately awakening a Sociology 101 romance with his wife, Claudia, as a SUNY Plattsburgh student and rooting in his home community in Greenfield. But the couple are decidedly bi-coastal, with a residence in Los Angeles, having first moved to California in 1982.

Bright’s early interest in cannabis may have made the audience laugh – β€œWell, I was 16…” – but he nodded at more serious ideas when he and Claudia watched. the west coast industry grow.

The couple have been public cheerleaders for the plant since Kevin Bright’s elderly, treatment-resistant mother saw a significant quality-of-life benefit after being prescribed the synthetic cannabinoid Marinol (also known by his generic name of dronabinol).

After observing its improvements, ten years ago, the couple approached UCLA to support cannabis-related research. While the school didn’t have much to say on the subject at the time, years later it came back to them to support their now strong cannabis research initiative.

But the Brights were less than enthusiastic about how the legalization of adult use in California has gone.

β€œI think we bring with us the experience of what not to do,” said Kevin Bright. β€œThe state is growing bigger than literally the people of California put together. This leads to a lot of black market growth. And these dispensaries open in vacant stores and they open for a month, and then they get knocked down, and then they move on and open another one, that’s part of the process of what they do. They sell at lower prices than legitimate dispensaries. ”

Kevin Bright said the couple were encouraged to enter the New York market despite California’s “wild west” as they felt the state would do things differently, including investing industry revenues in communities most affected by its criminalization.

Their vision for their 400-acre Twin Leaf Farms is to continue producing maple syrup and other traditional crops, while also trying their hand at cannabis and technological advancements like solar power – but to house the latter two deeper in their property, out of sight.

β€œOur solar field will not be an eyesore because it will be in the middle,” said Claudia Bright, noting that locals have protested against solar energy because of the way it changes the character of the farmland in the region. region. Likewise, they hope to apply for a license to cultivate cannabis on a cottage and family scale and listen attentively to neighbors’ concerns about issues such as safety.

Ryan Veitch, property keeper at Twin Leaf Farms, checks the pickup lines in a maple stand on Monday, December 20, 2021 in Greenfield Center, NY The owners of the maple farm, Kevin and Claudia Bright, have plans to '' use part of the farm land to get involved in the cannabis market.
Ryan Veitch, property keeper at Twin Leaf Farms, checks the pickup lines in a maple stand on Monday, December 20, 2021 in Greenfield Center, NY The owners of the maple farm, Kevin and Claudia Bright, have plans to ” use part of the farm land to get involved in the cannabis market.Paul Buckowski / Times Union

But nearly nine months after New York City’s Marijuana Tax and Regulatory Act was passed to legalize cannabis, all of their plans are speculative – the newly formed Cannabis Control Board and Cannabis Management Bureau. have yet to issue regulations and license categories that will let the couple know where they might fit.

Board chair Tremaine Wright recently said she was sticking to a previously announced 18-month schedule – since the board’s completion in October – for the state’s adult industry to be operational, which means that such operations would not be operational before April 2023.

But many public relations officers, lobbyists and lawyers across the state have racked up clients who hope to give themselves an early edge in the market – including Mercury Public Affairs, with whom the Brights have already started working.

Many of these lawyers and lobbyists told The Times Union that it is not too early to start generating interest in a plan. They advise versions of what Kaelan Castetter, vice president of the New York Cannabis Growers & Processors Association, called “creating an air of inevitability” – engaging community leaders, senators, members of the assembly, even residents of the region.

According to Mercury representatives for the Brights, the couple have already made progress in sharing their plan with executives, even offering a tour of the property to Congresswoman Carrie Woerner, whose neighborhood borders the Greenfield Center.

β€œ(Twin Leaf Farms) is one of four potential growth companies who have contacted me with their ideas and how they would like to proceed,” Woerner said.

Woerner has no say in who gets the licenses – the Office of Cannabis Management will make recommendations on the decisions to Wright, whose final approvals will be based on no objection from the board of five. people. But the member is hopeful about what the industry will look like in her region.

β€œWe really wanted to encourage local businesses rather than applicants from out of state,” Woerner said. β€œSo I’m really encouraged by the conversations I’ve had. “

Woerner learned of the Brights’ plan from Kevin Veitch, who has been involved in running the farm and whom she has known from his work in local government. Veitch will take on the role of municipal supervisor in Greenfield in the new year.

Meanwhile, Kevin and Claudia Bright have high hopes for Claudia’s hometown: they see it as a potential East Coast ‘Napa Valley’, with agritourism and cannabis at its heart.


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