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This 100-year-old New York apple orchard is becoming a cannabis farm

It's one of the first in the state licensed to process cannabis.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Written by
Rossilynne Skena Culgan

More than a century ago, Beak & Skiff opened as an orchard in central New York, and over the years, the farm has reinvented its products, adding hard cider to the menu and now cannabis. 

The family-run farm has been growing hemp to make CBD products, including balms, vapes, tinctures and beverages, for the past few years.

“Everything is similar to the orchard, all hand-grown, harvested and processed on site,” Eddie Brennan, Beak & Skiff president and co-owner, told Time Out.

As of last week, they’re now allowed to grow, harvest, dry, process, and manufacture cannabis products after being awarded one of the first cannabis processing licenses from the state. The cannabis wing runs as a separate entity called Gen V Labs. They hope to add products with THC by the end of the year.

“As soon as dispensaries open, we’ll be able to hit the ground running.” 

A Gen V Labs employee harvesting the cannabis plant"
Photograph: Courtesy of Beak & Skiff / Gen V Labs | A Gen V Labs employee harvesting the cannabis plant.

“Through the Initiative, processors will take adult-use cannabis currently being grown by New York farmers and turn it into consumer cannabis products,” the state explained in a press release announcing the adult-use conditional processor licenses. “These products will then be sold at New York’s first retail dispensaries, through the Seeding Opportunity Initiative’s Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary program.”

This isn’t the first time the 1,000-acre farm in LaFayette (about 12 miles south of Syracuse) has reinvented itself. 

When Brennan began working at his great great grandfather’s farm about a decade ago, the orchard had lost nearly 80 percent of its apple crop. The business hadn’t diversified, presenting challenges for revenue.

They launched a premium hard cider brand called 1911, which he says saved the farm. Beak & Skiff now sells a variety of hard ciders, from sour blackberry to cider donut, along with a line of spirits and wines. You can find the beverages near you with this cider/spirits finder

A row of apple trees with red and green apples.
Photograph: Courtesy of Beak & Skiff | The farm's 350,000 apple trees are ready for harvest season.

As fall approaches, the farm’s 350,000 apple trees are ready to shine for harvest season where you can pick-your-own Gala, Honeycrisp and Red Delicious apples, among many other varieties. There’s a tasting room on site, along with a general store, bakery, and an apple barn. You can drop by for a tasting or a cocktail anytime.

Continuing with their spirit of innovation, they’ll add a THC beverage bottling facility to the operation. 

“We think over the next three to five years as the stigma kind of wanes with cannabis, people are going to be comfortable consuming through beverages,” Brennan said. “I hope cannabis can be found in as many locations as you can purchase alcohol. I think that’s only fair, and I think in the future that’s a real possibility.”

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