Burning Acre is ‘the place to be’ as Columbia’s first in-house hemp plant, CBD facility

Jay Powell

| The Daily Herald

It might not be Green Acres, but Columbia’s latest Cannabidiol (CBD) shop, Burning Acre, is certainly working toward a much greener future by growing its own hemp products in-house at its new headquarters in Columbia.

Founder and owner of Burning Acre John Cureton saw an opportunity to launch the new business in Tennessee and Columbia, places that have embraced the surge in CBD and hemp-related products.

The business currently operates primarily as a grower/manufacturer for about a dozen businesses throughout the state, while also offering its own café/lounge at the location, where customers can browse its many products such as CBD flower buds, baked goods, candies, vape cartridges, various oils and bath products.

Whether used as an alternative to traditional medicine for treating ailments like arthritis, anxiety or digestive issues or as a safer way to promote relaxation, CBD products are now considered much less harmful than alcohol or tobacco.

The hemp-growing industry has also opened doors for the younger generation, much like Cureton, to embark upon the time-honored tradition of farming and cultivation.

In 2021, multiple CBD and hemp-related stores have opened in the area, but only Burning Acres produces its items from start to finish in one facility, including planting, harvesting and marketing 100% in-house. It is also the only facility in Columbia with a large enough space to pull it off.

Burning Acre, 2484 Park Plus Dr., launched a soft opening of its 12,000-square-foot facility in January with plans to expand the space to a 15,000-square-foot, two-tier grow operation over the next few months.

“We’re going to have a full-on two-tier grow. There currently isn’t anything like that in Columbia. We want to also expand and offer our products at all of the local farmer’s markets,” Cureton said.

“We’re set for the next round, and it’s going to be a lot. There is a lot going on, which is exhausting, but it feels really good, especially when we’re already getting all of this good feedback.”

The goal, Cureton said, is not to only expand the facility’s grow operation, but also make Burning Acre a destination to hang out and host special events, such as live music, food trucks and community fundraisers.

“Burning Acre kind of has a leg up because I’ve had experience in all of this. This has been my forté for a long time, and so I’m excited,” he said.

From California to Muletown

Cureton got his start in the hemp industry in 2002, when there were very few laws regarding marijuana and CBD legalization.

He vividly remembers the period as an exciting time because marijuana was becoming a more acceptable product to market, not to mention very lucrative. However, there were still many risks involved and stiff competition among growers.

After making a cool $5,000 on his first batch of edibles, Cureton knew he’d found his calling.

As the years went by, Cureton relocated to Nashville, where he got involved in the film industry. Once recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado in 2012, he moved to the Centennial State to open a dispensary, finding great success.

Many states would subsequently pass various laws regarding marijuana and CBD over the next several years, and once legislation hit the CBD market in Southern states, he saw an opportunity to get in on the ground floor. With almost 20 years of experience in the industry, building up his previous shops and operating in some of the biggest markets in the nation, he saw its future heading towards Tennessee.

Cureton brought his expertise of growing the product to Tennessee, which was a crop many Southern farmers were not familiar with.

“I started this as a consulting company, helping farms throughout Tennessee and Kentucky, teaching them how to grow better,” Cureton said. “What I continue to see over and over are things like people making $100,000 mistakes in not being able to cure properly, not harvest properly. And it’s because they just didn’t know and were used to growing things like corn or tobacco.”

Once the edible and tincture market began to take off, he realized it was the right time to put his hat in the race.

“We started with chocolate chip cookies, which led to brownies and snickerdoodles, and now we have a full menu,” Cureton said. “It’s working out really well, and now we’re in about 12 stores. It’s growing pretty quickly and is not slowing down.”

A greener future for all

As the harvest season approaches, Cureton is excited to develop a stronger customer base locally, which he said has already begun to take off.

As more laws are passed regarding medical and recreational marijuana, he believes it’s only a matter of time before Tennessee joins more than a dozen states, including Washington D.C., who have legalized cannabis in some form.

However, when that time comes he says the market must be properly regulated, not just to be fair to other business owners, but to also produce a safe product for customers.

“That’s one thing I do hope Tennessee does not allow, that just everybody and anybody can open,” he said. ” You risk having price wars, a race to the bottom, and you have people getting into the industry who are cutting corners and doing bad things to the cannabis, and they wouldn’t tell anybody.”

In the meantime, the store will remain hard at work at finishing its buildout operation, creating new products for its menu and coming up with ideas for a proper grand opening.

The end product will be a place that not only manufactures its product throughout the country, but provides a spot for people to visit, hang out and become part of the Burning Acre community, he said.

“We’re going to have a lot of grand opening stuff, and we’re going to have local artist Whitney Herrington paint a bunch of murals and hang art. We’ll have chairs set up and offer coffee, live music and food trucks,” Cureton said.

“It’s just going to keep evolving more and more each week.”

Burning Acre’s operating hours are currently Tuesday-Saturday. To contact the shop, call (931) 901-0340 or email [email protected]

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