The Full Story
For CEO and founder of Ananda Farms, Sarah Stenuf, a name is everything.
As a student of “other ways of life and culture,” she told Emerald, “I came across this way of being, this way of life called ananda,” in Sanskrit there is no opposite to this internal or divine "joy". Stenuf explained her belief that “the way of getting that internal joy, to connect with one's self, is to connect with nature.” And thus Ananda Farms was born.
Located in Fulton, New York, Ananda Farms has provided their local community with high-quality, hemp-related products since 2018. Their line-up includes massage oils, capsules, warming and cooling oils, and more. All-natural and organic, Stenuf emphasizes that while these items are available for purchase by all, her focus is on treating veterans and civilians with severe issues.
A war vet herself, she stated, “I’m not looking to get rich quick, I want to listen to what vets and people need.”
Observing complaints about the strength and longevity of CBD products, Stenuf worked with the Ananda Farms lab to remedy these drawbacks. Now, Stenuf is proud that her commodities “hit the levels that veterans and people with severe issues [need] so we can get the benefits from that plant that we [require].”
Additionally, 10% of all the farm’s sales are donated to Veteran’s Ananda Inc., a certified nonprofit that Stenuf created. Functioning as a rural homestead, Veteran’s Ananda offers free “retreats for veterans and post traumatic growth programs.” Veteran's Ananda is has a "Veteran Village" that is made up of tiny homes built by high school students. At the "Veteran Village" veterans, first responders, and their families receive free care, support, and rehablitation through short duration high-impact retreats and long-term post traumatic growth programs.
In an exciting development this July, the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture and Markets approved Ananda Farms as the first ever u-pick hemp farm in New York. They will open their doors to consumers this October, marking a significant historical and cultural change in the state.
Like any great project, Ananda Farms started with an idea. In 2013, after sustaining a serious head injury during advanced individualized training, and serving in Afghanistan, Stenuf returned to civilian life, reports the Daily News.
Stenuf, who suffers from epilepsy as a result of her brain injury, comabt PTSD, and chronic pain, tells Emerald that upon her return, she “was prescribed 13 medications and was taking, at one point, 60 pills a day.”
Stenuf described her life then as “just hell.” “I was in and out of treatment facilities, rehabs, psych wards, jails […]. I was constantly living in survival mode, trying to get by.” "We got trained to go to war, but we were never trained on how to come home."
After two failed suicide attempts, Stenuf finally reached her limit. That was until one day when her friend showed up at her door with a bag of cannabis. Having just weaned herself off cocaine and alcohol, Stenuf was understandably cautious. She, like many other Americans, thought that cannabis was just another drug. But upon experimenting with cannabis, she found that her light sensitivity, social abilities, and overall quality of life improved.
After a year and a half of struggling to find the right strains, dosages, and methods of consuming cannabis, her use of pharmaceuticals dwindled. By 2018, Stenuf no longer needed them.
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state was accepting applications for hemp licenses this February, Stenuf lept on this opportunity. Ananda Farms obtained a hemp license, and became a for-profit subsidiary to generate proceeds for Veterans Ananda.
And still she didn’t stop there. Stenuf had grown up with u-pick farms thanks to her relatives, who had grown blueberries, apples, etc. and allowed consumers to stroll through their fields.
Stenuf emphasized the various benefits of u-pick farms: “I love how family fun it is […] how it keeps the cost down for the farmer but makes it more cost effective for the consumer who’s buying it as well.”
She wanted to build on her own family’s legacy, and give people a chance to pick their own hemp.
To achieve this goal, Stenuf reached out to the Department of Agriculture and Markets and the Department of Health. She fought tooth and nail to meet their requirements. She then encountered the most formidable obstacle for a hemp farmer: getting insurance.
After several banks denied her, Ananda Farms became one of the first hemp farms in the region to have banking. But it still wasn’t enough — Stenuf wanted insurance for her u-pick enterprise. Finally, against the odds, two companies out of the 60 Stenuf contacted in New York agreed to insure the u-pick farm. She had succeeded.
So why would one pick their own hemp when Ananda Farms has their already made products?
For one, the hemp plant is used in a variety of fields, including clothing, paper, skincare, biofuel, plastic, food and housing products. Furthermore, Leafly reports that it “can be incorporated into thousands of products.”
In reality, the likelihood that Ananda Farms visitors are making their own building materials is unlikely. However, consumers can use it however they desire. But the experience alone may just lure consumers to Ananda Farms. With over 8,000 plants to admire in beautiful upstate New York, the trip would not only be aesthetically pleasing but fun, informative and family friendly. Bring the kids to walk around a real farm, or learn more about the growing process for an unfamiliar plant.
Ananda Farm’s grand opening is this October from the 9th to the 23rd. Reservations are not required, and sales occur on a first come first serve basis. The farm has plenty of parking. Furthermore, Stenuf advises patrons who are unable to arrive during their operating hours due to extenuating circumstances to reach out for a solution. She also notes that they will offer numerous discounts to consumers, including seniors, veterans, etc. Additionally, any purchases made benefit veterans in need, further incentivizing future visitors.
In the future, consumers in search of THC-rich cannabis may be tempted to journey to Fulton — Ananda Farms is looking to integrate into the recreational market as soon as possible.
“We’d love to have you here,” Stenuf added, “our doors are always open.”
Author: Moira Mahoney
Published by: Emerald Media