Have you ever picked up a bottle of Charlotte’s Web™ and wondered, who the heck are these people? Well, CW is more than a company, it’s a family of passionate and dedicated people who believe in making life better for everyone.
We invite you to get to know our family a little better, starting with Bear Reel! Yep, that’s her name. Cool, huh?
Hi, Bear! How would you describe your job at CW?
I’m a plant molecular biologist, industrial hemp scientist, plant breeder and also, certified herbalist. I moved out to Wray, Co to live on a farm and work on our breeding program, which is where I’m at today.
Breeding hemp isn’t as simple as crossing a good male and female plant from your stock, what traits do you look at?
Plant breeding can be simple or complicated as you want to make it. From the times that humans started agriculture, it saved the best and grow them again, and so on. Plant breeding does that on a basic level today, but there are a lot of other molecular and scientific techniques that help to shorten the process to find better results faster.
The things we’re looking at our health, vigor, overall structure, yield, the size of the flowers, the timing of flowering, insect resistance, disease resistance, but also interesting secondary compounds as well secondary metabolites, the phytochemical profile that characterizes it and make it unique. We’re just trying to grow the best possible plants we can.
How do you analyze phytocannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and all of the secondary compounds?
It’s great having our internal lab with some brilliant and passionate people, so we work as a partnership. When we see some new characteristics that we like, we take those plants and flower them. Then, we pull a certain number of samples, depending on the type of physical analysis that we like, we dry them and take them to our lab. They run an analysis using their fancy equipment. It’s a tremendous asset because we can go back and forth. They can say, “Hey, we saw this fascinating compound,” and I can go “Ok great!” We can start characterizing particular traits of interest that we might want to develop later on.
Why do you work with hemp (and plants)?
[Laughs] It’s a very interesting plant!
Plants have always been my love affair. Ever since I was a kid, I remember having my hands in the dirt.
I was fortunate to grow up in an area that the majority of native plants in the country live there. That mountain range has enormous botanical diversity, only second to the rain forest. Things like ginseng, blue and black cohosh, goldenseal, elderflower, you name it.
I received my herbalist certification by studying and working with these plants on a very intimate level. It was inspiring and empowering, learning how much medicine and strength lives in plants, giving you the ability to heal yourself and others right at your doorstep.
I received my higher education in plant molecular biology and phytochemistry to help bridge the gap between the wealth of herbalist knowledge around plants with science, so we can start recognizing plants for the powerful things they are.
What can you learn about yourself from plants?
If there’s anyone on this planet that knows your body, it’s you. Plant medicine is about taking the time to be aware of yourself, listening to know what your body needs.
There are different systems of medicine that look at the body as a whole unit, where if something is wrong, it’s just something out of balance. It’s about bringing that back into balance.
A lot of people are looking for natural ways to help themselves whether it’s through food or supplement