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In Summary

Calvin Johnson, Dwayne Richardson, & Rodney with Natural Harvest join us on the HempList this week, hosted By Chase Nobles, Founder of

The Natural Harvest crew (Calvin, Dwayne, & Rodney) walk us through how it’s been in South Carolina building high quality Hemp Greenhouses in the heat! They discuss why they decided to get into the Hemp Industry, and some of the unexpected challenges faced while building their greenhouse. Finally, learn all about how Natural Harvest was able to build a strong community around them including local hemp farms, the State of South Carolina, and even Clemson University!

Interested in learning more about the growth of Natural Harvest, LLC? Please contact them directly at

Transcript (Auto-Generated)

hey everybody chase nobles founder of i’ve got a fun interview for
y’all today i’ve got calvin johnson
and dwayne richardson of natural harvest
llc here on the show today how are you
hey how you doing chase thanks for
having me good good
good well uh calvin i want to start off
with you man
uh it seems like you’ve taken this leap
into the hemp space and that is not uh
that is not a a light undertaking that
have gone through but i’d love to know a
little bit about you know who you are
where did you come from and how did you
how did you get into hemp
yeah great thanks for the introduction
chase so really
a little bit about where we are where we
came from uh my partner rodney kelly and
we kind of started doing business about
25 years ago
more in the retail space and we were
in the shoe business we used to own
a couple athletes for tennessee stores
we did that for a little while
then we moved into more of the
convention business
the convention centers where we’ve been
doing that probably
since about 2003 and that has kept us
really busy
for the last couple years up until march
of 2020
when we ran into a snag with something
called covert 19
and that is um kind of sidelined us a
little bit
uh meanwhile we were
doing some r d on research and how to
get into the young business
because um our family had
a lot of land in south carolina and we
decided let’s explore it
and see how we can get into this
business and you know create some jobs
uh create some financial stability for
and the team and it just took us down
that road and
what happened after that was um my
youngest son my oldest son
and dwayne started exploring some of the
opportunities in the hemp business and
they went to a convention in south
back in 2019 came back to rodney and
with some information they kind of
picked us a little bit we weren’t in it
we weren’t in that space that much we
were in the convention center space
and with that information that they gave
us it seemed to be very interesting and
definitely um environmental friendly
and also very helpful from a financial
so we just started digging into it and
for the last couple years
we have really been doing a lot of r d
you know research and development
and doing some real good um
partnership with certain companies to
help us move this along because we
were not farmers nor help growers
so we knew enough to know what we didn’t
know and we took that opportunity to
move into
a space we’re trying to partnership
and we found a nice partner with a
company called eaglehouse botanical
and even with that we found a
a um real good relationship with david
and clemson university and from that it
took us to
a couple of new relationships with dr
florence arun
from south carolina state so that has
really put us in a space where we really
start to
get some mentorship and learn from some
people that really know what they’re
and then that took us obviously to kush
which took us in another space
to help us with you know um
potential investors as well as uh
potential buyers
right on awesome awesome now i
i hear you um when it comes to the
conventions and the
and the pain y’all felt with covet in
january of 2020 we threw the largest
hemp show the world has seen
dallas and then in march of 2020
that business was you know more or less
put on hold and that was a real tragedy
not just for us but for the space as a
whole to have brought so many people
from around the country together and
you know have to have to go through the
layoff and have to go through the
restructuring and all of that you know
that goes with building the business and
it kind of disappeared so i i understand
that pain but
uh with that pain it sounds like some
arose and that’s really cool to see
because uh
hemp does have a lot of opportunities
and if you have the land to grow it it’s
definitely a place to look now dwayne we
haven’t gotten to you over there
um curious you’ve been doing you’ve been
doing business with calvin for a minute
and uh curious what’s what’s the
background story here is this uh
and how did y’all end up being partners
in the first place well i i must defer
just a little bit uh rodney keller
is his primary partner uh he and rodney
have been doing business together as he
said just a moment ago
for 25 plus years and so they’ve had the
tremendous level of success that kind of
kind of
kind of launched this whole thing and
and they brought me along kind of
as uh i i my background is a little more
in land development and
and things of that nature residential
housing affordable residential housing
and so the two things kind of tied
together with with
uh if you’re going to develop a hemp
farm to a degree there’s a
there’s an element of land development
involved with that
maximizing the use of the land putting
in the infrastructure
so they kind of brought me into to to to
i think
to to to assist with with the land
development first
um as he said um his son
and i uh visited a hemp seminar in south
carolina and that really kind of
launched us into
the the decision to get the research to
bring back
to to calvin and rodney to see if we
interest them overall they were already
interested to a degree
but but cj and i i think uh
the the amount of research that we did
together uh
was instrumental in us and calvin and
rodney thinking okay well maybe this is
a doable thing let’s give it a shot
well on on that note we got rodney here
on the show um rodney i know you’re
sitting over there on mute we weren’t
really sure if you were gonna get too
involved but now i gotta ask some
you’ve been doing business with calvin
uh it sounds like yo by cj over there
calvin i didn’t know that i i
do you mind if i call you cj well yeah
that’s fine that’s
dwayne’s one time about my son calvin
junior oh god
no calvin junior hey uh well then i’m
glad i asked because i would have been
sitting here calling you cj
but yeah rodney you’ve been doing
business with calvin for a minute
um how how did this come to fruition
i’m sure you went to that seminar you
come back and
you have all this information you’re
excited about an opportunity but now you
have to have the conversation with
calvin about how do you actually start a
business and build something here
what was that conversation like having
learned what you learned at that seminar
that got you so interested
well let me let me back up calvin i’ve
been together for
over 25 years so we’re like it’s like a
we’re like i mean we’re like brothers um
so we bounce everything off each other
and when he comes back to me with
something an idea i really listen
because i know him and i know his
enthusiasm and i know
if he likes it i’m gonna like it and so
he came back with the idea
and i said hey you know let’s let’s
let’s go with it let’s let’s research
this and
put some develo rd in it and and really
look at
if we can make this thing happen and if
it’s um profitable
and we did and and that’s what happened
right on so i bet that was uh starting a
new company is one of those things where
feels really scary especially in that
those early days of
there’s so much you don’t know right
um now calvin what was one of those
things that you didn’t know that you had
to learn on the job training
having getting the farm up and running
all that well what what has been the
biggest surprise or biggest hurdles
you’ve had to overcome
well let me just tell you one of the
things that i didn’t know that i guess
that’s why we
good we had dwayne and more importantly
good we had eagle house botanical
as a strategic partner was you know
one of the first things we all kept
talking about was greenhouse growth
because we wanted to make sure we had
good clean flour and
something i didn’t know come out of the
development world
was when they put the tarmac down ready
greenhouse because we were sitting on
the hill with water
that we didn’t have a good runoff for
by putting rocks up under the tarmac
and it caused a ton of mud in the
greenhouse and that to me was fine
and because i wasn’t a farmer it just
kind of threw me off
so i knew then once again
i knew enough to know what i didn’t know
and i knew then
that we have to partnership and we have
develop real good strong relationships
with people that know what they’re doing
and that once again
is why was so important that we hooked
up with
um eagle house botanical which is one of
our first
moves um what you actually was brought
to us
through david dewitt and clemson
university and
and we went down and had some some real
good meetings with them
to learn a lot and um and then from
there on
moving forward with other strong
strategic partnerships
once again such as you know kush
um your company and that’s helped us a
learn a lot of stuff like i say we’ve
been doing this for two years now
now we’re ready to really get into the
development and we understand
the things that we didn’t know way back
in 2019
just stuff of just the small things of
when you grow you better have a buyer
but more importantly you better have
somebody gonna process it
because if you don’t you’ll be sitting
on a bunch of product with nobody to
process your product
right right yeah we learned that a lot
from blue sky
a company called blue sky that’s a
processor company they kind of taught us
that also
now for anybody that’s been in business
for a while one of the biggest things
they’ll tell me is you know
what’s the mission and how important the
is to building a great company with
with your experiences starting this
company i’m sure that was part of the
what mission are you all on and uh and
how is that driving you know the
of the business that you’re building so
i mean obviously we’re on a forward
one thing we learned a long long time
ago from
some entrepreneurs that kind of mentored
rodney and myself one rodney’s father
was an entrepreneur and he mentored us
but we knew one thing we needed to do
was what we call a three p
three three p theory wow and that’s
a purpose a plan
and how we propose to do it and have a
for peace so we knew that we needed to
really get ourselves
in line with those those three to four
p’s to get our mission in order
and it’s been a journey because we we
you know like everything
we’ve heard a lot of no’s and
don’t try it but with our perseverance
we knew we would keep moving forward now
you mentioned the partnerships with
eagle botanicals and clemson university
and things you’re doing there
how how those partnerships driven the
development of this farm and production
facility that you all are building
so just i’ll just start with clemson
clemson when we first started meeting
with them
it was really imperative that we
listened to what they were talking about
because they they bring so many tools to
the to the two shed
you know with the agriculture department
and then they took
us to meet with eagle house botanical
and what was really important with
dealing with them
is because they already helped growers
and they already have a farm
and as fate would have it ironically
because south carolina
is a huge state but their farm only
happens to be
less than five miles away and it made it
perfect for us because they were able
to come down help us assist us in this
soil testing well development things of
that nature
and has been very helpful and that’s why
we made them
a very strong ally and consulting
for us because there’s somebody who’s
already doing it they’re successful in
doing it
and we know in order for us to be
successful let’s get in let’s get in
with somebody who’s already successful
so we’re going to try to start from
and recreate the wheel let’s just let’s
just ride with them
well as we all know south carolina is a
really cool place in the summer
um temperature wise nice cool climate
um no i’m kidding it’s hot in south
carolina how have you all how have you
all managed to
to to to build the farm in that kind of
condition you know especially with the
greenhouse moving more towards outdoor
climate management for a farm is really
important especially when it comes to
has that been a challenge working in
that uh that
environment um to to to create a great
flower product
so you want to take that let me give a
stab at that one
i think that one of the things that that
we learned from eagle house botanicals
and and that and the experience that
they’ve gained is which particular
strains of him
are going to to to do best in that that
that rugged
south carolina summer and we’re about 25
miles northwest of columbia south
carolina and it is truly
one of the hottest places uh on the east
coast um
hot hot and humid i’m from i’m from east
tennessee in south carolina
a little hotter and a little bit more
humid and i thought it was hot and humid
in tennessee so
you know and and so uh our partnership
with them again as calvin has stressed
how much we’ve learned from them one of
the first things that that they directed
us to do was
silver haze and lifter are the two
that um that we intended to
to grow initially in the greenhouse both
of those have been proven to be
successful and able to endure
the south carolina climate now uh
we will be doing an indoor greenhouse
grow and
and uh matt o’brien and harlow teague of
eagle house botanicals
have allowed us to visit their
greenhouses and
and have shown us the necessities that
we will need to
incorporate in our greenhouses to make
that we protect our crop from that harsh
and so so so um
the lessons learned primarily have come
down through again
david dewitt at clemson he’s the head of
the clemson
hemp extension program he’s been
extremely helpful
not only the knowledge that he shared
with us but the individuals that he’s
introduced us to
to broaden our team and so um so
so yeah i think that our confidence
comes even though
silver hayes and lifter are originally
cultivated in the oregon climate they’ve
proven to be successful
in the south carolina climate as well
well that’s good to know because it
seems to be getting hotter and hotter
every year up here in the northwest
we just went through our own heat
heatwave it was pretty pretty wild
because we don’t have ac
up here nope it doesn’t seem like
anybody has ac in the northwest so
that was a that was a wild experience i
don’t know if you all saw that in the
105 degrees in seattle i mean gosh
yeah it was it was warm and none of the
houses have ac you wouldn’t believe it
and so everybody’s just uh
just sitting there melting inside their
house but uh
now when it comes to when it comes to
actually getting this farm going you
know you’ve got
you’ve got the information you’ve got
the people you’ve got the partners
you’ve got the team
you’ve got the the four p’s like calvin
was talking about
what’s next you know you are you working
seedlings you getting plants in the
ground did you pop seeds
how do you actually get started for
anybody that’s out there considering
starting a farm
what was that you know when it comes to
getting plants in the ground what was
that first big step y’all had to take
to to actually make this work
okay so dwayne okay
again this takes us back to the
relationship that we have with eagle
house botanicals
and and the the nature of our consulting
contract we have entered into an
to to uh purchase the necessities for
our first grow the seedlings seeds
all of those things and even to a degree
the setup of our greenhouse as i was
saying just a moment ago making sure
that we had the proper ventilation the
proper cooling systems
all the things necessary and so they
will be providing us
with uh uh our botanicals to start
um and and helping with the the setup of
the greenhouse
um year two i envisioned that that
calvin and rodney would would have us
take over those responsibilities and and
use the things that we’ve learned
through this consulting contract
but here in the beginning uh uh
say potentially for an investor who
might be taking a look at us
we will have the expertise of
experienced farmers
teaching us helping us to create our
standard operating procedures
and getting our botanicals to make sure
that that first harvest calvin has said
over and over and over has reminded us
that if we don’t do well in the first
most likely there won’t be an attempt at
a second harvest
so so just like this interview you only
get one shot
at the first first time and so so that’s
kind of where we are
uh in terms of how we plan to launch
um um again our consulting partnerships
will will be instrumental now
um say it does go great this first
harvest you know you’re real happy
you you’ve eluded at a larger vision um
with 300 acres it sounds like you’ll
have access to to grow uh moving out of
greenhouses what
what would you like this to be calvin at
the end of the day um
five ten years from now what would you
like to build um
considering you know if if everything
goes well this first you know year or
well that’s a great question and we we
talked about that a lot
we’ve put a lot of thought into that and
we really want to become
kind of self-sufficient where we have
our own driving facility
we want to have our own processing
facility and we want to be able to
also uh have some small
trucking we can move some of the other
farmers that are made smaller
than us we’re going to be able to move
their product help them um
our bigger plan is we really want to
a scholarship program in the agriculture
at clemson university and south south
carolina state
because they’ve been very instrumental
in helping us and that’s big to us to be
able to
get deeper into community involvement
you know we’re here in washington and
you know
community involvement is really
important to rodney myself
and dwayne and the team and so we really
want to get more into that
and if we’re able to be successful with
as you know we can do a lot of different
things because we can move around
and help because you know we don’t have
to have it all to make it all
we want to be able to assist other
people in getting forward moving forward
as well so i mean at the end of the day
you know five ten years from now
our goal is to really be set up when we
have a home facility
of a drying house a processing facility
um multiple greenhouses and
you know industrial hemp want to get
into that world
and we know a lot of that also is very
helpful for the environment
so you know we’re environmentally
conscious so we like to get it all
right on and when it comes when it comes
to working with the state of south
carolina with this being such a new
stater kind of make the state can kind
of make or break
the business model what’s it been like
working with the
south park south carolina department of
agriculture has that been a challenge
has that been a benefit
um what what’s the general consensus
over how they’ve been handling the
the legalization of hemp in the state
dwayne that’s your baby
yeah that’s that’s that’s that’s me um
let me let me pause right here and sing
their praises
with the loudest voice that i possibly
can they have been
so incredibly helpful the director of
the hemp program
in south carolina is is is a lady named
vanessa el salah
miss el salah has been in her office
across the board
have been extremely helpful uh
they they ask you to to submit your uh
request for information
via email but but if you’re like me and
you just go ahead and call
they’ll make time for you every time and
they they
they’re they’re quick to share their
knowledge they’re quick to share their
information with you
they’ll point you in the right direction
of individuals that you will want to
work with
that can help you to to solidify your
operations but can also show you
pathways to expand your operations
so the south carolina department of
agriculture and specifically
well and i must give credit also to the
farm service agency
they fsa they too have been uh
very very helpful in in in making us
aware of programs that are going on in
the state
uh uh there there’s some some some usda
funding that comes down through
through fsa that they’ve talked with us
about um
so so south carolina department of
agriculture uh
uh and farm service agency have have
both been
just just wonderful to work with they’ve
made life very easy and
a lot of times the the uh the government
bureaucracy gets a bad rep
i have to say they’ve been a dream to
work with
well that’s great to hear because you
know you hear horror stories and some
other states and
challenges in other states it’s great to
hear a state being real supportive
of the the local farming community now
i’m going to go out on a limb here
um i’ve
most of the interviews that i’ve done
unfortunately have been a bunch of white
guys farming him
and uh this is a you have a team of all
african-american founders here and it’s
really inspiring to see that
um how do you how do you look at that as
far as your role in the community as a
you know representing a group of people
inspiring another group of entrepreneurs
to to pursue a business
is that is that something that you all
think about or is this just business as
usual for you guys and uh that’s that’s
the way you roll
it’s definitely not business as usual
hey chase i’m glad you brought that up
um it’s definitely not business as usual
and we know we must lead by example
we know we must do the right thing we
know we cannot
you know say something and not do what
we say
because our word is bond and other
look at us and they’re going to follow
us and if we don’t do we say and that’s
a problem
and we know it’s a problem also because
as we’re seeking
investment money we got to do what we
tell these investors we’re going to do
and dwayne alluded to it earlier i make
a big deal about it
all the time if that first grow is not
right then
we can’t go back to these investors for
money they don’t want to hear it you
and our money’s in there too so nobody
wants to hear your mistakes
and that’s why we pride ourselves on
what we’ve been doing for the last two
we’ve not made any money for the last
two years but we’ve spent
quite a bit to get ourselves in position
to make sure that we’re doing
the right thing and as african-american
you know we want to make sure that we we
link up with other farmers that
look like us and we and not exclude
but we want to hook up with other
farmers they look like us and hopefully
we can potentially
help them too and they make it
potentially help us too we don’t know it
right we we’re new and we’re learning as
so you know as african-american farmers
we know
we must do what we say lead by example
be on time and those things that most
business people know
you have to do return phone calls return
you know can’t get you in two seconds
but we got to do
business although help is a different
the business model is the same and we
pride ourselves on the business model
that right have been doing i i love this
i love the
diligence that you all put into anything
that you do if this interview has been
an example of the way you’ll do business
i really appreciate it yesterday calvin
you gave me a call
and you had a couple questions you want
to talk and that was that was one of the
first times that’s happened usually the
interview is scheduled and
it and it happens or sometimes people
don’t show up which is a little
frustrating y’all are all here ready to
rock so
i appreciate that not i know for a fact
that y’all are going to be very
for a lot of you know future founders
and future entrepreneurs and that’s
exciting to see and i appreciate y’all
bringing that to the table and
taking it seriously because it’s uh it’s
exciting to see a more diverse group
getting into the farming of him
especially a group that
uh has traditionally been the most
negatively impacted by the
the criminalization of him and cannabis
so i really appreciate y’all’s time
i’m really excited about uh the farm
that y’all are building
and your future success uh any anything
to close this thing off with calvin
um it’s been a pleasure talking to you
listen what i like to do
because rodney said this earlier we’ve
been in business together over 25 years
and we are like brothers and i know
duane and i’ve been doing most of
i want to let him you know just really
kind of
tap in close it out and and
say what’s on his mind because he’s my
brother you know
not biologically but definitely
spiritually and i want him to jump in
so i’m gonna take them let rodney jump
in rodney take it away
what do you got for us hey look man i
just want to say that
i got the best well we have the best
out there um these people you see
dwayne calvin you don’t see jeremy he’s
part of the team and we have other
they are truly truly hard-working
people um when we say
anything that we need and done is done
the the due diligence that’s been done
with this team is incredible
so i just wanted to say you know when
you have a business and you you start
the number one thing is have a good team
behind you
one that you can trust like i say
calvin’s a brother i trust him
with my life and dwayne i’ve known for
about five years
i trust him so these guys have
really put in the work and
putting the work and and making this
thing happen so
i just want to say you know i’m just i’m
elated that i’m
part of this team and i know we’re going
to do big things
and hopefully we’ll get some more
investors on board
because we’re ready to rock and roll
right on rodney
i think that was very well said excited
to see what you all do thank you for
your time
thanks thanks thank you