NEWTON — A nondescript building on Industrial Drive in the Newton Industrial Park is a groundbreaking business — one of the first of its kind in the state.
Sunnyland Kansas, a business founded by the Coleman family with corporate offices in Wichita, is operating an industrial hemp drying facility in the building.
"We are going to go beyond drying. We will be seed distributors and an extraction facility going in just a few months," said Christian Coleman, president of the company. "We will be a one-stop shop for all things hemp. We are the only company of our kind, as far as being a one-stop shop. There are other processing companies out there with extraction facilities up and running."
Sunnyland Kansas started operations in early 2019, obtaining some of the first Kansas Department of Agriculture licenses for processing and distribution.
The company also obtained a 25,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor facility for distribution and commercial drying of industrial hemp in Newton. Plans for 2020 include offering a seed and start/transplant program, farm services, commercial drying, brokering and other monetizing assistance.
Hemp was legalized as a cash crop by the Kansas Legislature this year.
“With Kansas’ recent legalization of this high-value crop, our family sees the opportunity to bring our knowledge and expertise to central Kansas,” said co-founder Sheldon Coleman. “This industry can make a major difference to farmers, large and small, but must be done with a clear understanding of best practices and a reliable network of suppliers and service providers.”
The Coleman family has spent several years in Oregon growing hemp for CBD.
The Newton facility hosted a series of workshops on Saturday to help producers understand the new cash crop.
"The facility, for us, is unbeatable for our needs," Christian Coleman said. "And there is proximity and its location. It is easy to access on all major freeways and roadways. (Newton) just made a lot of sense for us."
2019 saw challenging market conditions for the Kansas farmer — a record-breaking rainy spring damaged the state’s first-year hemp crop. According to Sunnyland, even more problematic was a general lack of understanding of the unique challenges of hemp farming — such as seed supply, farm readiness, cultivation practices, harvesting, and post-harvest needs — among producers.
The company promotes the growing of feminized hemp as a primary strategy to help farmers achieve the maximum economic benefit of growing a CBD and CBG-rich crop. The company will be adding services as well — including distribution of the feminized seeds and starts/transplants in early 2020.
"In addition, we will be planting our own Kansas farm, providing real-world research and development on Kansas soil,” Christian Coleman said.