FULTON — It makes good sense that native hemp grower Sarah Stenuf named her nonprofit Veteran’s Ananda. The phrase Ananda is outlined as a state of utmost happiness, in any case.
Happiness is one thing everybody searches for, and the Syracuse native discovered it by way of a plant.
“I acquired into the hashish neighborhood to assist others,” Stenuf mentioned beneath the new stage lights, whereas addressing an intrigued crowd throughout the 2018 Ladies Develop Management Summit. “What I spotted is that by serving to others, you construct these stunning relationships which are constructed on a basis of hope, and hope could make a optimistic change.”
Stenuf’s journey from managing easy backyard vegetation on a household farm to overseeing a hemp enterprise with greater than 10,000 seedlings is one in all intrigue, hardship and perseverance.
Stenuf spent a good portion of her childhood alongside her aunt Tina Emmi at her Baldwinsville-based grange, Emmi’s Farm, studying about agriculture. As these seeds grew, her ardour flourished.
“I’ve all the time had a inexperienced thumb,” Stenuf advised The Palladium-Instances in a current interview. “I all the time grew up motivated and impressed by seeing Tina’s work on the farm and the delight they took in it.”
Emmi’s Farm proprietor Tina Emmi earlier this week described what it was like working with a younger Stenuf.
“She is an excellent individual, not simply being my niece, however only a unbelievable individual in our eyes,” Emmi mentioned, noting how a younger Stenuf would work tirelessly and assist harvest produce.
These experiences helped Stenuf uncover her true ardour — serving to others — and the primary place that keenness took her was the army, however not with out obstacles.
Stenuf mentioned she all the time knew she wished to hitch the army. She acquired an ROTC scholarship by way of the Marine Corps and attended St. John Fisher Faculty the place she studied political science.
Nevertheless, her desires of becoming a member of the Marines had been jeopardized by a automotive accident.
“Following my accident, I attempted to enlist however I couldn’t get a medical waiver in time,” she mentioned.
This devastated her till a glimmer of hope appeared by way of the U.S. Military.
An Military recruiter approached her and provided an opportunity to hitch with out the medical waiver required by the Marines. She accepted and deployed as an Apache helicopter crew chief in Could 2010.
“Once I acquired in, I bounced by way of the ranks so shortly as a result of I used to be good at my marksman abilities and my education,” she mentioned, noting how she was a distinguished honor grad in Superior Particular person Coaching (AIT).
Her time in AIT and coaching was when she mentioned she first started having seizures. In response to this, she mentioned Military Medical officers gave her drugs.
Nevertheless, whereas serving, her unit was unexpectedly attacked by RPGs, destroying her squads’ drugs, sleeping quarters and gear.
Within the blinding smoke, and within the midst of hazard, Stenuf mentioned she overcame the adversity and instantly began serving to.
“I awakened on prime of my buddy there was mud in all places and I managed to crawl over to our sleeping quarters and get women out and to the bunker in time,” she mentioned, noting her efforts earned her a commendation for her heroism.
The battle left Stenuf disoriented, she mentioned and the next day throughout a routine sweep for undetonated explosives, Stenuf suffered one other seizure and was transported to Germany in fall 2010 the place she was left to restoration till she was “steady” after which transported again to america.
Whereas recovering at Fort Drum’s then Warrior Transmission Unit — presently referred to as the Solider Restoration Unit — Fort Drum’s surroundings left her longing to return abroad.
“My command pulled some strings and I went again to the unit. That’s after I took over (and helped set up new coaching procedures),” she mentioned. “I wished so as to add one thing and make it higher than how I left it.”
She served till Could 2013, when she was medically discharged for epilepsy ensuing from a traumatic mind harm and fight post-traumatic stress dysfunction.
These preliminary years after getting back from fight left her in a shambles, she mentioned. Makes an attempt to reintroduce herself into society left her “screaming for assist” and noticed her flip to unlawful substances and alcohol to manage.
“It was bizarre for me to succeed in out as a result of I used to be by no means that individual. Once I acquired out, I felt like there was simply no place that might give me the care I wanted,” Stenuf mentioned.
Seeing how substance abuse successfully destroyed her physique and “turned me right into a zombie,” it left her trying to find different and more healthy coping strategies.
“I spotted after I used hashish, I felt higher,” she mentioned, including that she noticed noticeable enhancements to her high quality of life. With this new discovery, she took to the web beneath the alias Completely satisfied Therapeutic 420.
“I used to be only a social media alias and I simply confirmed individuals the right way to develop at dwelling and what I used to be doing,” she mentioned.
By means of social media, she emphasised hashish’ advantages, and people on-line interactions paved the best way for her to finally be a visitor speaker in entrance of hundreds.
“It felt nice, that was my permission, credibility and validity to know there’s something larger there,” she mentioned, reflecting on her first talking occasion on the 2017 Excessive Instances Hashish Cup in Nevada.
She based her first firm, Completely satisfied Therapeutic 420 LLC — Veteran’s Ananda’s forerunner — that very same 12 months, she mentioned.
By means of her efforts, she mentioned she has frequently attended conferences with state Meeting and Senate members to advocate for hashish legalization and supply enter for the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.
Stenuf opened Veteran’s Ananda at 69 Wilcox Highway in Fulton along with her spouse Jessica in 2018. Since opening, Stenuf mentioned she acquired a New York State Division of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) Hemp Cultivation License — one of many dozen hemp cultivation licenses all through the county — expanded into satellite tv for pc places in surrounding counties, and grew to have greater than 15,000 sq. ft of greenhouse area.
Stenuf mentioned she hopes Veteran’s Ananda shall be accepted by the NYSDAM this 12 months to finally turn out to be a u-pick hemp farm.
“U-pick farms can assist households come collectively, get educated, unfold consciousness, chuckle and have enjoyable within the discipline,” she mentioned, including that there have been many advantages to hemp comparable to textiles, paper, and extra.
Not simply increasing her operations is on the highest of her checklist although, noting how Ananda Farms — a for-profit subsidiary of Veteran’s Ananda — this 12 months acquired an extra 22 acres throughout from her Fulton farm to broaden.
An extra manner Veteran’s Ananda would broaden is thru buying area in Oswego “to open a veterans’ tiny dwelling village.” Based on Stenuf, town has been “very supportive” of their efforts.
“I used to be very impressed with Sarah and her presentation on Veteran’s Ananda. Our preliminary dialog included agreeing that we have to do extra for our native veterans,” Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow mentioned. “We’re nonetheless speaking about specifics and the way we will greatest accomplish this however I’m very .”
To be taught extra about Stenuf’s work, her journey and fervour, go to www.veteransananda.org.