By Kristie Snyder, GreenStar Staff

Both Allan Gandelman and Karli Miller-Hornick of Head + Heal successfully used hemp extract to regain function from debilitating illnesses — in his case, Lyme disease, in hers, anxiety and panic attacks — without the side effects of either pharmaceuticals or medical marijuana. No wonder they felt a calling to put their farming expertise to work to bring high-quality locally and organically grown hemp extract to the region. Thanks to the recent legalization of hemp in New York State, that dream has become a reality.


Allan, a co-owner of the Main Street Farms organic vegetable CSA in Cortland, and Karli, the farm’s CSA manager, formed their own company in 2017 with the intention to produce hemp extract. They were among the first in the state to receive licenses to grow and process industrial hemp, and this fall they harvested their first crop, organically grown on 15 acres just outside of Cortland. There’s a fascinating journey from hemp plant to extract: after a controlled drying process, the flowering part of the plant is extracted using ethanol, which is then evaporated, leaving only a pure, full-spectrum extract. Head + Heal blends that with a certified-organic medium-chain triglyceride coconut oil in order to arrive at their final product, now on the shelves in the Co-op’s West End Wellness Department.

Quickly growing in popularity, hemp extract is used by many to relieve stress, depression, and insomnia, soothe pain and inflammation, and promote an overall sense of well-being. While research is in its infancy, some promising science heralds many beneficial uses. With the passing of the 2018 federal Farm Bill in late December, hemp and its extracts are now legal nationwide, opening up additional research opportunities. It’ll also be easier for farmers from coast to coast to source loans and insurance for hemp crops, and to certify their crop and oil as organic.

With hemp extract still largely unregulated, the quality of products now on the market can vary wildly, and there’s little consumer protection. Head + Heal customers can rest assured — the company controls the process from start to finish. They emphasize consumer education and strive for “seed to sale” transparency, publishing third-party lab-testing reports detailing their products’ composition.

Karli and Allan are thrilled by the overwhelmingly positive response to the product. “We have an incredible amount of repeat customers,” Karli says, “who tell us how it has improved their lives.”