CC Alum Goes All-in on Organic Hemp

On a sunny, late-summer afternoon 37 years ago, I arrived at Mathias Hall with a trunk and suitcase, knowing not a soul in Colorado Springs and with absolutely zero idea where my life was headed or what I wanted to do with it. If you'd have told this 18-year-old kid that three decades later he'd be growing organic hemp and making CBD products, you'd have been greeted with laughter. Yet here I am. Life's currents can take you to strange and unpredictable places for all kinds of reasons — but looking back at my Colorado College experience, it seems pretty clear that a wide foundation was laid there to do, well, just about anything.

Freshman year I took courses from a different department each block. I was in full-on exploratory mode, like a hungry teenager at an all-you-can-eat buffet, sampling first this then that. Thankfully, CC encouraged this kind of free-ranging. You could call it "unfocused," perhaps, but it also instilled a sense that anything was possible after graduation. That was a little bewildering, to be honest, but also liberating. No career track for this guy.

I finally settled on majoring in English. After graduating from CC and then earning a Ph.D. in literature (with the idea of teaching), one of those unanticipated life currents carried me across the country to Maine, where I married and started a family. Because the job market for English professors was so dismal at the time and I wasn't interested in chasing scarce opportunities around the country, I switched to a new tack and started a graphic design and web development business.

During the pandemic lockdown in 2020, I decided I needed a good outdoor project as a mental health booster during that trying time, so I decided to take a shot at growing a few hemp plants. I'd heard about the remarkable medicinal power of CBD and was curious to learn more about it. Turns out I had a lot of fun, learned a ton about organic agriculture, and started exploring the world of CBD. Eventually I began thinking, maybe it's time for a career shift. Much as I enjoyed my work, I yearned to spend less time in front of a computer and more time outside working with my hands. And the idea of providing a medicine that can improve people's lives by relieving pain, or helping them sleep, or easing anxiety was irresistible. Who wouldn't want a job that helps people feel better?

So, I launched a new business, Bald Mountain Botanicals, and started growing certified organic hemp commercially and crafting CBD oil, tincture, and balm (plus selling the raw flower). It's become a crowded field as CBD's popularity has boomed, but I'm betting many people will want to buy CBD products from a small independent organic grower they can trust and establish a relationship with.

It's probably a stretch to say that my years at CC led me to this particular adventure — it could easily have been something entirely different — but the time I spent learning and exploring beneath the looming majesty of Pikes Peak certainly laid a broad foundation and gave me the confidence that you can do anything you like in life. Just dream it up and go for it!

Ed Geis graduated from Colorado College in 1989. He lives in Camden, Maine with his family and grows organic hemp.

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