Ryan & Ally Gerken
Well... Well... Well.
Updated: Jan 8, 2021
Here we are 2021! On the first of the year we were supposed to be launching our product line. We had spent months putting our annual marketing and sales plan together, FINALLY finished our business plan and even put a separate marketing and sales plan together specifically for our launch.
Now it’s time to share our 2020 story and like many, it is both sad and beautiful.
The pandemic hit in March, as you know, and our first hemp crop plans were also set to start in March. Ryan had decided that we were going to plant 5 acres this year, and he was expecting a loss of about 50%. Ryan’s background was completely indoor growing up to now; he had never farmed outside before - so this was new territory for him!
Ryan is also a bit of a perfectionist - something we are both working on. Ryan has a tendency or expectation rather for things to workout perfectly and if they don’t his attitude can sometimes be - what’s the point? And I of all people can’t fault him, I was similar until I realized that the perfectionist mindset keeps you absolutely stuck and never EVER accomplishing your goals.
Knowing this, I did my best to help prep us for the year. I mean everything I read about the first years of farming, in BOLD print said, “you will not be profitable for at least three years”. Yes there are always anomalies and there is nothing wrong with being hopeful, but I was trying to cast the “this is a learning experience” mindset in our house for our first planting season; mildly successful I would say!
In April, Ryan and I hand planted 8000 hemp seeds in our living room. After the first few trays we got into a rhythm, it was fun. Much like our time at Starbucks, we were working in-sync with each other and striving to do the work as effectively and efficiently as possible. I smile while we are working because I literally see us back on the espresso bar, at 17 and 20 y/o only now I look up and see three little girls running around and I do the math in my head of how long we have been together? And that my oldest is only 12 years away from being Ryan's age when we met - which is also about how long we have been in Colorado, OMG!
It took us two full days of planting and coffee and allowing our kids to watch movies to get all 8000 seeds planted. I laugh now because after the first tray, I calculated 5 minutes per tray: fill tray with dirt - drop seed in dirt - bury seed in dirt - stack and repeat. We ended up filling 120 trays, 400 seeds more than initially planned but necessary. And I had to add on about 15 minutes per tray because my simple and hopeful mind didn’t calculate, diaper changes, movie changes, food, fights, naps, play time, questions (UGH the what’s and why’s of being 4!), rest for us, sleep for us, coffee making time for us, and probably a few other things. We spent 40+ hours that weekend planting seeds, then a small celebration at the end, and then sleep.
When I awoke the next day I asked Ryan how those plants were going to get into the field???? I had systematically and completely incorrectly calculated how long this project would take us, and had forgotten we are nowhere near done, these plants still need to make it to the actual field!!! Ryan explains to me the next steps and I begin to forecast - yikes!
To be honest, that day I was thinking that all will be well, and I still think that today (no that is not a spoiler alert - just a mindset), but the pandemic continues to throw punches AND so does the first year’s farming lessons!
We have had to learn to take punches! More to come as we continue to share our journey and eventually get to where we are today!
Be Kind. Be Positive.