On December 28, 2023

Old Windsor farm gets a new life





Emily Macrae stand among marijuana plants at Sunkissed Farm.



By Curt Peterson

For some time now the buzz in Hartland and Windsor has been “What are all those huge tunnel barns across from Simon Pearce?”

Passersby are looking at the rapidly growing agricultural operations of Sunkissed Farm, owned by partners Brad Macrae, 41, and Spencer Hayes, 38. The agriculture they are pursuing is cultivation of cannabis, to be sold only to retail outlets under the Sunkissed Farm brand.

“We aren’t licensed to sell any product on a retail level,” Macrae explained. 

The Mountain Times is the first media organization to be invited inside the heavy-duty fencing and past the hundreds of security cameras and substantial padlock.

The state requires detailed descriptions of security provisions before licensing will be considered.

The Sunkissed property was formerly known as the “Staples Farm.” The most recent Staples to live in the large, federal style brick house was Newell D. Staples, who died in 2015 at 92. 

“The house had been vacant for some time,” explained Spencer, who lives in Pomfret. 


An aerial view of Sunkissed Farm located at 195 Route 5N shows its many greenhouses.



The duo have invested $2 million renovating the house, rehabbing outbuildings, and installing the nine very impressive tunnel barns, which will contain the 2,500 plants their license allows, when the company is planting this spring. They didn’t reveal what they had paid for the site in April, but they had been eyeing it for some time.

Getting a clear idea how big the tunnel barns are requires standing inside. A vent fan in each peak, and mechanical roll-up sides allow air flow. Brad’s wife Emily manages cultivation. There are ten full-time employees and a couple of part-timers.

The plants and processes require irrigation and access to ample water, all of which comes from a natural spring. Since the farm was populated with dairy cows for years, the soil, which the partners had tested, is very rich. 

Sunkissed will not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides – “We will be beyond organic,” Brad said. They employed pirate beetles and ladybugs to kill an aphid population, for example. 

The partners will use sacks made from compostable material for packaging the various marijuana buds.

“No glass jars for our products,” Hayes said. 

Their license also allows them to sell “rolled joints” to licensed retail outlets. Proposed packaging consists of a cardboard five-pack of perfectly cylindrical, nicely packed with marijuana fibers, “joints.” They are playing around with fonts and print size for labeling.

“Most producers pack theirs with finely ground marijuana,” Hayes said. “It’s messy to use and you get cannabis dust in your mouth. Not true with our joints. They are unique in the marketplace.”

As part of their pursuit of “beyond organic,”  Macrae and Hayes plan to populate the twenty-nine acre property with some cows and chickens. Brad said it will be a real farm that produces its own compost, so nothing goes into the product that comes from outside. “A closed loop,” he explained.

“Right now we’re using our energy organizing and planning,” Brad said. “So we won’t be planting until early spring.”

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