Kelly O'Hern (third from left) with her family.

How has becoming the owner of one of Illinois’s first cannabis cultivations contributed to your family’s agricultural legacy?

My husband’s family has farmed in Fulton and McDonough County for six generations. This in itself is the legacy and something to be proud of. It has been generations of hard work and family effort that made it happen. When our family applied for a cannabis cultivation center, it seemed like it could be a natural fit to where our family could grow, and an extension of our farm and community footprint. Our hopes were that Nature’s Grace and O’Hern Stock Farms could work together to help continue our agricultural legacy. We as a family are good stewards of the land and NGW is an extension of this sentiment. 

This is a family affair! Please tell us a little about your family.

This is indeed a family affair, with myself, my husband Larry Joe, and our four sons all playing a part in the cannabis company. Our oldest son, Patrick, does the market branding and outreach for NGW. Our second son, Tim, is head of operations and legal matters for NGW. Our younger sons Dan and Matt are not involved in the day-to-day operations at the cannabis farm, although their experience and leadership is utilized. With myself as CEO and my husband as CFO, we co-lead Nature’s Grace. I especially appreciate Larry Joe for his knowledge and experience in farming. It is what has driven our family and helped our brand’s success.

As one of the only family-owned-and-operated cultivation centers in Illinois, do you feel added pressure to perform well in the Illinois marketplace?

The short answer is yes. When we started this, we felt we had to prove to ourselves and especially to our local area that this was a real business, not a fly-by-night that was going to hurt the community. We like to operate traditionally as we have in the many years within the agricultural world of operations. As such, it is important that we do healthily engage in the pressures we face in this new market and create a positive impact through our company’s practices and values.

Is having a cannabis cultivation center more stressful than running a typical farm? What are the stressors?

We always feel pressure to perform well. With hard work and determination, we strive to be the best we can be at whatever we are growing. Farming in general has a lot of regulations that must be followed, and running a cannabis cultivation is no different. We prioritize our business’s organizational structure and for it to be in line with the standards we are supposed to abide by. The cannabis industry is still very new, and so this entire process has been a learning experience that we’re grateful to endeavor.

In your opinion, how do you feel cannabis plays a role in people’s overall physical and mental health?

I think it is a healthy option for those that are 21 years or older. I have noticed that people in their 50s and older have turned to cannabis. They no longer want to use prescription drugs because they have taken a toll on their bodies. They are more interested in learning about the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Cannabis can be a tool to help with mental health but of course it works differently for everyone. Talking with medical professionals is always important and should be done before starting any type of medication.

What do you do to keep your body and brain healthy? Is cannabis a part of your current routine?

As far as physical health, the NGW lotions are currently part of my routine. I have injured my knee and I use our 1:1 (CBD:THC) Cloud Nine Lotion in the morning and at night to ease the pain. Occasionally, my husband and I also use the Funnies Gummies for pain and helping us sleep. By using cannabis to keep our body healthy, it consequently relieves any anxieties or stress and keeps the brain healthy too!

A big thank you to Kelley for taking the time to talk cannabis with us and explore Nature’s Grace’s growing legacy in the Illinois market. 

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