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Enthusiasm in Pursuit of a Cause

The North Fork gets in on the Growing CBS Market

CBD has hit the North Fork with Zeal CBD, a line of products managed by  Natasha Van de Wetering of Mattituck and Connie and Joe Arigo of Aquebogue. Ms. Van de Wetering and the Arigos operate GardenWorx Farm and Garden at 1017 Main Road in Aquebogue. GardenWorx offers garden perennials and annuals, lots of sunflowers and Zeal CBD products. Zeal CBD is produced from hemp plants grown by Anton Van de Wetering and Joseph LoSicco and harvested last year from fields along Main Road that now play host to rows and rows of  sunflowers.

What is CBD exactly? Hemp and marijuana are derived from the same base plant known as cannabis sativa L. Different levels of certain chemical components known as cannabinoids determine whether a plant is considered industrial hemp or marijuana. Marijuana has high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid responsible for the sensation of getting “high”. Cannabidiol (CBD) is the non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in hemp, first grown on this continent by the pilgrims in the 17th century. Hemp arrived on the Mayflower in two forms: as seed for planting and as fiber in the lines and sails of the transport ships.  By the 18th century, New York had a thriving hemp industry: hemp fibers were used to make paper, clothing, textiles, rope and other building materials. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp on their plantations; Jefferson invented a special mechanism to better harvest hemp plants. Fun fact: the Declaration of Independence was penned on paper milled from hemp.

While hemp remained a staple of the U.S. agricultural and industrial landscape through World War II, hemp production declined and ultimately collapsed in the 20th century for several reasons. The Marijuana Act of 1937 regulated the hemp industry to the detriment of legitimate industrial hemp growers; hemp production further contracted in the 1950s  with the introduction of mass-produced synthetic fibers like polyester, which were much more efficient and cost-effective to make. Finally, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 completely banned hemp production, having designated hemp an illegal  controlled substance.

It took almost 50 years and a new millennium for the U.S. government to finally recognize the distinction between marijuana and hemp: the 2018 Farm Bill decriminalized hemp and legalized hemp production in all 50 states. As a result, hemp has been under legal cultivation in New York under a special pilot program administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets — the program responsible for the growth and production of hemp right here on the North Fork. And the CBD market is exploding in the US: according to research firm Grandview Research, CBD market size was valued at close to $1 billion in 2020. 

Hemp has long been known for its healing properties, having been used over the centuries for health and wellness purposes. Due to the lack of psychoactive effects, CBD is most widely used for therapeutic reasons including anxiety and depression treatment, stress relief, diabetes prevention, pain relief, cancer symptom relief, and inflammation. But why take CBD? Natasha Van de Wetering explains that taking CBD is much like taking a multivitamin because the human body has an endocannabinoid system which naturally produces cannabinoids. “Everyone is comfortable taking a multivitamin because your body produces those vitamins naturally. What you may not know is that your body has an endocannabinoid system and naturally produces cannabinoids in your body.” And it’s important to know what goes into your CBD gummy or tincture, Ms. Van de Wetering continues. “Many products on the market are mixed with other ingredients, and consumers are not getting the full dose of CBD because it’s being mixed with other items that you don’t need.” Zeal CBD is coconut oil (used to extract the CBD oil), CBD oil and “a little bit of natural flavoring.” Purchase gummies, oil tincture and topical rub at the farmstand or at; no product is priced more than $25.

The word “zeal” means enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause — and that’s the mantra and tagline for the Zeal CBD products. “It’s everything we stand for,” says Ms. Van de Wetering. “We want to offer people a holistic alternative to prescription medication that will treat mental and physical discomfort. We are very passionate about what we do, this is our zeal.”