Jared Rolston

Jared Rolston, co-founder of Bordertown Farm, a hemp farm at the Vermont Agricultural Business Education Center in Brattleboro, received unanimous approval from the Development Review  Board to proceed with an indoor cannabis facility on University Way.

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BRATTLEBORO — A hemp farm in Brattleboro received local Act 250 approval to build an indoor cannabis grow facility during Wednesday night’s Development Review Board meeting.

In 2017, Bordertown Farm, at the Vermont Agricultural Business Education Center on University Way, began farming organic hemp and marketing its own line of CBD products.

“With the passage of the cannabis rules, we would like to now expand our hemp business into the legal cannabis business, and we’d need to erect an indoor grow facility to make that viable,” said Jared Ralston, who co-founded Bordertown with Hilary Famolare.

He told the board they plan to erect a 12,000-square-foot facility on the property to produce cannabis that will be made available at dispensaries around Vermont.

“This is strictly a wholesale operation. There’ll be no on-site retail sales.”

About 3,000 hemp plants are grown outdoors on the property right now, he said, but they plan to grow cannabis in a secure facility that gets all of its water from on-site sources. The site also has its own wastewater system, so it won’t put any demand on the town’s water and septic systems.

Rolston also noted the education center will still be open for use by the local high school for its soccer, lacrosse and cross country skiing programs.

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“The Cannabis Control Board has outlined security measures that we are required by law to take, and there they consist of locked doors, video surveillance, motion sensing lighting,” said Rolston. “And we grew 3,000 hemp plants outside in the previous years, and there’s never been an issue. No students ever stole plants, seemed to be interested or wandered into the field.”

Rolston noted that Bordertown outgrew its fenced-in area and still encountered no problems with students.

“I think a locked secure building should be even less of a concern,” he said.

Rolston said growing marijuana indoors is energy intensive, and he is working with Efficiency Vermont and Green Mountain Power to design the operation to be as energy efficient as possible.

The education center already has a solar array, he said, and he hopes to expand the array in the coming years.

The local Act 250 process gives the local Development Review Board an opportunity to evaluate the proposal and determine if it’s going to effect municipal services and whether it fits into a particular neighborhood. It’s a separate process from state Act 250 land-use review law.

Bordertown will need to come back before the board with a detailed site plan in advance of breaking ground on the new facility.

Bob Audette can be contacted at raudette@reformer.com.