A trio of old high school buddies are behind a new player in the local CBD scene.
VA Harvest, which sells CBD extracts and cremes in stores and online, launched in November.
The company has a budding retail presence, with products on shelves at grocery store Ellwood Thompson’s and Fan wellness store Blossom RVA, co-founder Bill Wingfield said. The company plans to expand locally and across the southeastern part of the country.
It also sells products through its website. The company’s 30 ml extracts are priced at $98 on the site, the same price as its 1 ounce topical creme.
VA Harvest plans to launch CBD products aimed at animals in the spring.
The company contracts with AG Essence, of which Wingfield is a co-owner and chief chemist, for the processing, manufacturing and testing of its products. AG Essence operates an 8,000-square-foot facility at 5350 Lewis Road near Richmond International Airport.
Ten thousand units of CBD products are produced for VA Harvest per month. Wingfield said the company expects that number to increase in the near future with upcoming new equipment. More than $1 million has been invested to launch VA Harvest, he said.
VA Harvest’s parent company, Mid-Atlantic Botanicals, owns the equipment used by AG Essence to make VA Harvest products.
VA Harvest has plans to add private label products, meaning it would make CBD products to be sold under other companies’ brand names. Conversations with potential clients are underway but no deals have been hammered out yet, co-owner Phil Noonan said.
Wingfield, Noonan and fellow VA Harvest co-owner Keith Oley are Benedictine College Preparatory School alumni. They founded the company after conversations about the CBD industry shifted to formulation of a business venture buttressed by Wingfield’s existing resources and knowledge.
“Keith and I had been talking about CBD because his son is in Colorado,” Noonan said. “I asked Bill, ‘Do you know anything about the CBD business?’ He said no. I said, ‘Would you look into it?’ He then gave me a call about a month later and he said we can do this.”
Noonan runs contracting firm The Noonan Company. Oley owns electrical contractor Metro Electric. Both Noonan and Oley are investors in VA Harvest.
While it took more than a year to develop VA Harvest’s products, Wingfield said they had a little bit of a head start thanks to his prior experience with AG Essence.
An FDA-registered pharmaceutical facility, AG Essence processes, manufactures and tests personal care and healthcare products. The company manufactures private label products and also has its own first-aid line called Banda-Sil.
“We already make wound-care products — first aid for cuts and scrapes and burns and stuff like that — so we were already doing all the FDA paperwork,” he said. “But if you’re starting out from scratch it’s overwhelming.”
In his research, Wingfield said he concluded that AG Essence’s experience and familiarity with federal and state regulatory rules could give them an edge.
“It was a long process. It’s interesting because we found out how many people really don’t know what they’re doing out here, putting out products that aren’t tested properly, or they’re running out of a garage or a barn,” he said.
VA Harvest plans to participate in the eventual retail market for recreational marijuana, which at this time is slated to open in January 2024. The company would like to apply for a manufacturer license to create its own products and do private label products for other companies.
VA Harvest doesn’t currently have any employees, though the company plans to start hiring early next year for salespeople and eventually have its own production staff rather than outsource the work, Wingfield said.
AG Essence was founded in 2011. Wingfield co-owns the business with his wife, Bella Wingfield. AG Essence has eight employees.
VA Harvest joins other area businesses that have sprouted in the market. In Richmond, Old Manchester Hemp Co. sells hemp in smokable forms at 1308 Hull St., where the company grows on site.