Reclaiming Ancestral Power
The East Coast Cannabis Tour: the Visit, the Stories, the Connection, the Confirmation
Photo of Patrick Brown with the Original Keys of the Lands Properties- taken by Vee
The East Coast Canna Tour Mathematics: Wednesday July 21, 2021 the East Coast Canna Tour (ECCT) began. This inaugural expedition was the brainchild of Sammiyah “Sunflower” Taliaferro and Veronica “Vee Traveling Veg Canna Writer” Castillo, manifested in reality with the numerological power of 777 (the seventh month, 7 cities, 7 days, 7 x 3= 21).
With more than eight other Black-owned brands in tow, the East Coast Canna (ECC) crew embarked on an amazing 7- day adventure, packed into a 15 passenger commercial van with skills similar to an advanced game of Tetris. The tour touched 7 cities in 5 different states including Massachusetts, Maryland, and Virginia. In almost every location there were Black-owned cannabis/hemp brands and businesses to behold. Flowers were given, meals were shared, and wise words were spoken.
On Friday, July 31, the ECC crew arrived at the last location (but certainly not the least) in Henderson, North Carolina. It took about 3 hours to drive from Virginia to Henderson, and the anticipation was well worth it. The emerald fields of Hempfinity, the hemp division of Brown Family Farms and Produce, almost glowed in the sun as they greeted us. Here is where we witnessed the direct effects of ancestral magic revived!
This is an attempt to account for that magic and the power that has been repossessed and multiplied by CEO and the heir to the Hempfinity brand, Patrick Brown. We are so appreciative to Patrick for the time he took to share his family land and history with the ECC crew; and to make sure we understood just how pertinent family legacy is to the revival and survival of Black wealth, especially in hemp agriculture.
Hempfinity- Hemp Fields with Thousands of Plants
Photo of Sunflowers Spacecakes lead Baker, in a Hempfinity field, taken by Vee
“I wanna take you to the ancestral land…” Patrick states with promise before giving the ECC crew a brief historical take on the 100- year old Brown Family acreage. He captivates us with his serious nature and calm voice, almost as if the ancestors are speaking directly through him. There is not enough time to capture all the information that he possesses but we try, hanging on to every word.
When we arrived, we gathered on site where the Brown family home is, and the place where Patrick was born. Hemp fields wave in the slight wind like a freshly cultivated lawn, not more than 20 feet from the house. At one point the property spanned more than 7000 acres and housed 185 slaves. It has then since transitioned in ownership and cultivation and currently accumulates at almost 2000 acres and counting. Though the quantifiable abundance of the land is steadily being recovered, there is NO LACK in the space!
Patrick guides us through adjacent fields on our way to check out more of the family land. The Hempfinity fields spread across a confederate warzone hotbed. As we drive through the long winding roads, we catch sight of neighboring plantations, once bustling during the scourge of slavery, now converted to upscale wedding and photography venues. Patrick recounts the stories of the properties that have been purchased and repurposed in attempts to get rid of those nasty stains.
He points out a Black-owned winery and then, to its immediate converse, one of many signs detailing the location of graves for infamous confederate generals and their family members. The energy gets heavy for a moment but then lifts when we pull onto a plot of land that is rife with more Hempfinity magic.
On this small yet abundant part of the farm there is more uncultivated land than so; it has remained that way for at least the past 10 years as part of a government project to preserve a good portion of land, called CRP. As we walk I survey the different “weeds” amongst the hemp plants. Juniper, mint, and holly are in company, nipping at our ankles as we walk through (who told me to wear sandals in the woods?!). I usually forage a few pieces of earth to take with me for spiritual and healing purposes. This land, however, is highly protected. I can almost hear the juniper bushes saying “please don’t take” and I oblige. But the memory of the space and its intense energy stays with me even until today.
The Start of Hemp Cultivation at Hempfinity
In 2016 Brown Family Farms started growing hemp legally (hemp cultivation has been legal in North Carolina since 2015). Previously, the most prevalent agricultural products coming from North Carolina were corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton, and tobacco. The federal government forced tobacco out as a crop in 2017 and before then, implemented commodity structure farming, which means that a farm must scale over 100 acres on a particular crop or the government won’t pay the farmers.
Black farmers have then since been more easily weeded out of viable contracts. Tobacco once supplied a large portion of agricultural earnings especially for black farmers, but with the changes, many have suffered severe loss or had to close. Conversely, white farmers cultivating the same indigenous crops have had indiscriminate access to land, government subsidies, and risk management checks that pay for things like new equipment for years.
The Brown family legacy has survived long enough to be fast-tracked into the future. Patrick describes to us how he utilized his business degree and applied fresh perspective in the family practices by turning to regenerative agriculture. Organic crops like moringa, bamboo and industrial hemp are considered regenerative crops. Patrick’s trust in holism and herbal healing is what ultimately fuels the practices of the Brown Family legacy.
The Brown Family Businesses
Brown Family Farms and Produce is only a few miles from the historic town of Warrenton, North Carolina. The industrial town was founded in 1779 and has a population of 9000 predominantly Black citizens. Despite the modernization of the area in some ways, the citizens of Warrenton are still 30 to 40 miles away from close-to-living-wage-paying jobs. There is only one grocery store within that same radius. The Brown Family Farm fills that gap by providing organic produce to Warrenton on a bi-weekly, membership basis. The farm also initiates food safety plans for the community to ensure that everyone benefits from the wealth of the land in the most beautiful way!
Patrick explains that the farming aspect of business also provides consulting services for other Black farmers in places like Tennessee, Ohio, Texas, Georgia and South Carolina, assisting with set-up, infrastructure, procurement of equipment, greenhouse management, produce farming and succession planning.
The Brown family legacy boasts quite a few other businesses, though some are not active today. The list includes a bail bondsman, convenience store, hotels, pool hall, and funeral home, the locations of which Patrick fondly remembers or can point out. The funeral home, located on 310 East Macon Road, still stands. Other business locations, like a second convenience store can be traced to New York!
Back down the center of Warrenton is the newest business location in the legacy, Trinity Source, which officially opened its doors to the public in June of this year. The storefront shares a moniker with other businesses conjunct with partner Ron Judkins. Trinity is a God-based reference and stands true to its mission to bring and promote wellness in the community. Hempfinity smoke blends, teas and topicals , along with other Black-owned brands, line the shelves. God-willing, the location will soon host a safe and secure social space for hemp consumption and community gathering.
Though it does not carry the namesake of the Browns, Trinity Source is surely uplifted by the advantages of the Black-owned hemp business. The word regeneration definitely describes the manner by which Hempfinity and the Brown family business have shaped the development of Warrenton.
Initially the Browne Family but Now, the Brown Family
The Brown family are a tribe spread out but not apart. Cxvid is the only thing in the past 100 years that has kept the family from meeting up every year for their reunion. Their roots spread from North Carolina, up along the east coast to Philadelphia, New York, and the D.C. area. Known publicly as a family of entrepreneurs, they are descendants of Black people that were enslaved by law, and freed by rite. Patrick is the current carrier of the legacy and has mastered the building process of it. He has further liberated his ancestors by choosing to maintain the family land through the healing power of hemp. Imagine that, hemp healing on a spiritual level before anyone even consumes it!
On the final stop of this tour, also the last stop of the East Coast Canna Tour as a whole, Patrick guides the crew onto his most recent property acquisition. At the gate of the property is a sign that reads Brown Family Farms and Produce, Established 1865. Patrick has to get out of the car to open the gate, but once he does and we drive on, I feel a pulling and pushing energy.
Photo by Author
We drive ahead to the open part of land and meet a large, plantation house with smaller quarters to the left of it. We are led around behind the house and on the left pass by another small quarter- what we later learn is a shed for food and firewood, (built by the hands of those that worked the land, those same hands that weren’t allowed to touch the contents of the shed).
Giant, ancient trees line the property corners and are planted with plenty of room in between them along the perimeter so that farming tools, such as horses and carts, and later modern equipment, can fit through. Beyond the trees are cotton fields that used to stretch 7000 acres on two sides of the home.
The same trees also provide a perimeter for the spirits that are attached to the land. It’s not that the spirits can’t leave, but that they refuse to leave. There are quite a few of them, some that are open and others that aren’t too pleased to have visitors. The welcome is in the breezy relief beneath the branches of the trees; the unwelcome is in the not so physically present but very real feeling of tiny bugs biting at our skin every few minutes or so. The yard is very well kept, however, and the North Carolina heat has subsided a bit with the day, so it’s definitely spiritual energy.
There are about 11 people on the property, but no one is as loud or as present as the spirits of the Brown Family Farm. They are able to tell their story through Patrick, the son who reclaimed the place where his great grandfather received his true inheritance. We each spent time observing the different sites on the property before gathering in the center of the lawn. The big house is three stories total with a basement. There are plenty of windows and a couple doors. No stairs to enter the front of the home but a small porch on the back end and stairs
The slave quarters sit to the right back end of the property, between another shed and a well/ outdoor cooking quarters for the slaves of the property to utilize during the day.
This plantation is where Patricks ancestors became Brown (from Browne), and how his great grandfather exchanged the position as a slave, for a position as a free and extremely wealthy man.
How Patrick Consumes Hemp
Patrick recalls trying to avert the family business for 15 years before landing back in Henderson. He calls returning to The Brown Family Produce and Farms and Hempfinity as the most successful venture of his life.
Patrick’s favorite way to utilize hemp is topically. He expresses having sustained injuries from college athletics and how topicals give him therapeutic relief. Edibles are more need based and smoking hasn’t been his choice method of consumption due to personal preference. I have encountered many hemp entrepreneurs that attest to this same preference. (I’ve also spoken with a few hemp entrepreneurs whose knowledge of hemp consumption is limited to college days or one smoke experience, so this is refreshing).
It was a magical experience in the southeast region of the country. It was an honor to place my feet in the soil that our ancestors raised. It’s wonderful to discover that hemp is multifaceted in the lives of so many people! This heavenly herb is finally getting the open recognition is has deserved since the beginning of “civilization”. It’s not just about the money, it’s about the healing!
Brown Family Farms and Produce, and Hempfinity- thank you so much for the opportunity to visit, learn, and connect.
Photo of Author at Hempfinity, taken by Vee
Written by: Dom Hart
Edited by: Veronica Castillo
Korasana (with partner Zero Point Extractions)
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