08 Oct Connie Bowen
Hiring & Managing Employees
While she may have grown up in the New York City suburbs, Connie Bowen now resides on a farm in small town Scio, Oregon. An entrepreneurial fellowship program for Venture for America helped combine her interest in conservation, engineering and cooking. Using that experience as a springboard, she is now working for Farmacopia Farms! This farm is more than just a co-op or a farm, it’s a group working for a cause. It seems that Connie is on the cusp of all things new and exciting in the world of Ag Tech!
Farmacopia addresses consumer concerns in where their food is produced, what chemicals are used to grow it, and the ingredients that are used after harvest. The farm, located in Oregon, is specifically focused on hemp, as well as hazelnuts and blueberries. The goal is to demonstrate vertical integration both to distribute to grocery stores and direct-to-consumer online.
Farmacopia is partially inspired by their friend Two Brooks Rice Farm, who has a small grain elevator in Mississippi where they sell direct to consumers and into a few local stores. As a tenth-generation farm, the team at Two Brooks Rice is showing how farmers can stay modern in response to needs and questions produced by today’s consumer.
Vertical integration and direct-to-consumer farming and marketing practices are a great way to ensure profit and get rewards. Connie’s passion is integrating a great producer vertically and helping take that marketplace burden off of those friends that are doing a good job farming.
Chess Ag Full Harvest Partners
Farmacopia Farms was founded by Chess Ag Full Harvest Partners, an asset management company focused on agricultural investment opportunities. Examining and incorporating micro and macro global economic trends, their team provides nearly six decades of experience in finance and agriculture. In fact, founder Shondra Warner was recently featured on the Futures of Agriculture podcast.
By combining her passions of engineering, conservation and cooking under the umbrella of AgTech, Connie knew that she wanted to work for an ag start-up and that’s how she found the team at Chess Ag Full Harvest Partners. One of the things that Connie loved the most about working with Chess Ag Full Harvest Partners, prior to moving to Farmacopia Farms, was building relationships with portfolio companies and their people, connecting the dots between different stakeholders that need to know each other in order for Ag Tech to work.
“Hemp is great this year,” explains Connie. “The margins are ridiculous. Next year they will be much less and then it will become a normal thing.”
With Oregon being one of the earliest states to adopt hemp, it made it the perfect fit for working with these products. While everyone in the state seems to be growing hemp this year, not many seemed to have thought out the whole process of “who will dry this” or “who will process this?” With the conversations that are happening about nutrition and Ag Tech – hemp is the perfect product to use in those initial tests as you can better track the genetics and production of each plant.
Currently, Farmacopia Farms is doing all of their own hemp processing – exclusively using a Carbon Dioxide technique. Yielding a higher quality oil than ethanol extraction or butane extraction, they grow about 17 acres of hemp and sell CBD balms and Full Spectrum Hemp extract.
Hemp, to be clear, is cannabis with essentially zero THC. THC and CBD both come from cannabis and have the same chemical formula. However, the difference lies in the way that the atoms are arranged causing two different reactions. THC is the psychoactive compound known to make people “high” in marijuana by binding to reactors in the brain. CBD doesn’t cause that “high” and, instead, binds with other elements in the body to assist in health and well-being (WebMD).
Health Benefits of CBD
“One thing that you can pay attention to in the CBD space, right now, is that there are a lot of products out there and it’s pretty unregulated,” explains Connie. “Most CBD products don’t have CBD in it – it can get messy.”
Focusing on the quality of what they are doing, Connie and Farmacopia are able to cultivate hemp for the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD. There are currently 700 untested cannabinoids and, with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, research has and will be able to study the genetics and components of the plant further. One of the projects that Farmacopia is working on, is the ability to tweak different cannabinoid levels to better understand their effects on nutrition.
Learning the Uncharted
A big part of Connie’s job is having to chart uncharted waters in fields of research that may have just been started. Finding Google and reading as arsenals in learning more, Connie’s highly analytical research brain allows for her to build as much information as she can to form her own logical opinions and strategies.
“I feel like you learn really fast in the deep end,” says Connie. “Google is your best friend, so is listening, and so is asking questions. If I don’t know something, I challenge myself.”
Stop Apologizing & Hold Yourself Accountable
Told by an old coach, Connie’s thought process behind her “stop apologizing” mindset, is that women typically find themselves apologizing particularly when working.
“One of my biggest things is trying to increase access for everyone…and increasing diversity of who gets to do things,” says Connie. Connie demonstrates that by being confident as a woman, taking charge and not letting society dictate the way you can feel you can have great success.
Hold Yourself Accountable
“When you are going to have opinions, you are going to be wrong a lot,” Connie says with a laugh. “That’s fine! You need to be open to being wrong.”
Additionally, when you do a lot of things quickly, which will happen in the start-up world, you are probably going to make a lot of mistakes and you are just going to have to own it and learn from it for next time. It is always better to be the bigger person and take accountability for it.
To keep up with Connie, make sure to follow Farmacopia on social media as they ramp up their marketing efforts, as well as connect with Connie herself on LinkedIn. If you’re interested in learning more, make sure to check out her frequent writings in Forbes or contact her via email at Connie@FarmacopiaFarms.com.
To learn more about career opportunities in agriculture, follow AgGrad online:
Snapchat: @AgGrad https://aggrad.com/snapchat/
Twitter: @AgGradNation https://twitter.com/aggradnation
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AgGradNation
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/aggrad