Christie Tarleton and her husband Will have been known around Nashville for years as the local, organic Hemp farmers and have been part of the Tennessee Hemp Pilot program since it began four years ago. Through that, they helped build Hemp policy by lobbying for Hemp and met with Tennessee lawmakers to help craft and better the laws on Hemp in their state. But it wasn’t until Christie and her close friend Amanda Mastui made a tincture of CBD oil for a friend’s daughter who was undergoing treatment for Leukemia that Yuyo Botanics took shape.
Their friend, whose daughter Arlie was undergoing treatment for Leukemia for the second time, was looking for a natural alternative to morphine and asked Christie and Amanda to create something from their organic, biodynamically grown Hemp. “We couldn’t believe it when she responded incredibly well, both with her steroid rage — significantly helping to calm her down and help her sleep — and her mucositis [a condition common in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy where the inner lining of your digestive tract sheds]. She was able to feel relief and eat the very next day. That’s when we knew we had a product that actually worked.” Arlie’s mom posted about the tincture and her daughter’s response to it on Instagram, thus igniting a wild demand for local CBD. Amanda and Christie went on to lead a series of educational talks on CBD in Nashville and a week later, packaged and shipped their first products — to even more great reviews.
These days, a lot of company’s source ingredients from small, local farms. Whether it’s the hipster juice you drink or the coffee shop you frequent, there’s normally a few degrees of separation between the ingredients and the end product. But Yuyo is different: they are the small, local farm, the beginning, and the end product. “We fulfill every role, every step of the way.” From seed to formulation, to production, to marketing, it’s all Christie, her husband Will, and Amanda. Their creative is so fresh and modern, you’d be forgiven for not thinking a farm in Tennessee could pull it off. But it’s 2018 and farmers can also be classically trained designers (Christie studied at Parsons in New York City) who know how to make a damn good product, from start to finish. “We’re finally able to bridge the gap of small farmers to an artisan product that’s actually being perceived incredibly well by the consumer.”
And when we say Yuyo is small and local, we mean it. They personally extract and formulate their products, using an extraction lab just 15 minutes from their farm, bottle and label everything in house, and are currently cultivating a high fiber hemp variety to help get material to local artisans interested in weaving. But Yuyo is also thinking about Hemp on a broader state level: “Tennessee NEEDS this industry — our state slogan is ‘Agriculture and Commerce’ and we need to uplift a dying culture of farmers and help those farmers get paid a living wage for their crops.” In that vein, Yuyo is providing genetics to other farms and spearheading a genetic breeding program with Tennessee State University. “We feel sustainable agriculture can help redefine how we view farming and our food as well as create jobs within Tennessee by bringing a new agricultural industry to the state, a state that was once so heavily influenced by Tobacco farming.”
Image: (L) Will Tarleton, (R) Christie Tarleton and her husband Will
Not that there haven’t been some speed bumps along the way. While they’ve been accepted with kindness and enthusiasm in the city of Nashville, there has been some backlash in other parts of the state. A few months ago, in Rutherford County, the local sheriff's department locked down and seized products from 20+ vape stores stating the CBD products they were selling were geared towards children and made from marijuana. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation got involved and told Rutherford County they couldn’t move forward and prosecute since state laws dictate that any products derived from industrial Hemp, including CBD, are 100% legal. “The sheriff’s department got a lot of backlash from the state which actually helped our cause. It’s been fascinating to talk to folks who you think would have an aversion to it, only to find that they have close family members (or themselves even), who are dealing with anxiety, inflammation, cancer, or neurological disorders. Everyone is looking for natural pain and anxiety relief that’s NOT an opioid. We have a huge opioid problem in this state and this offers some type of alternative.”
As a personal healing modality, Christie uses CBD for migraines and anxiety, noting that it’s helped her more than any conventional medicine ever has. But she loves that CBD can be used by anyone. Yuyo’s clients range from mothers, who give it to their children, to men in their 80s using salves on their joints and backs — and mostly by people suffering from anxiety and depression. But the success that Arlie, the little girl with Leukemia, had with their 900mg tincture has stuck with them — and with the cancer ward at the hospital: “Mothers are just looking for any natural alternative that will help their babies and children feel better. Our current products are CBD isolate — so it was also safe to give them without the worries of THC.” They’re committed to getting these families safe, natural relief at no charge, which is why any purchase of a sample box on their site goes to help fund that.
So why does she do it? “Because we love sustainable agriculture because we love working with our hands and because we love helping people feel their best. This plant can save the world, I’m almost certain of it.” So are we.