A selection of Ananda Farms products. Sourced from Ananda Farms.
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,” known as bliss or divine joy in the practices of Hinduism and Buddhism. Stenuf explained her belief that “the way of getting that internal joy 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 wanted to listen to what vets and people needed.”
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 medicine 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, with 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 basic 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, 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.”
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, 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 insured hemp farms in the region. 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. For instance, they can harvest and shell/dehull the hemp seeds and cook a cauliflower hemp alfredo sauce. They can make their own CBD oil, or hemp milk, or start growing their own hemp plants.
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 1st to the 15th. 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.”