A descendant from a long line of agriculturalists, Roger Sterling Coleman grew up on his family's farm alongside horses, cows, chickens, pigs, and some of the cutest goats named Little Bill, Chill Bill, Wild Bill and — my personal favorite — Aunt Becky Bill. A true Renaissance man, his main passion lies in the cannabis and hemp sphere where he spreads the word about the benefits of the plant.
Coleman is an actor, model, cannabis influencer, and farmer who splits his time between California and Alabama. He also has a craft services business through which he has worked with numerous celebrities, from Kanye West to Jennifer Lopez.
“Both of my parents have had different types of cancer in the past 10 years, and I've been [in LA] bringing them home different types of CBD and RSO, and educating them on the products and the plant itself,” he said.
This was what inspired Coleman to convince his parents, a lawyer and a veteran, to grow hemp on their 70-acre farm, so they could create some of these products themselves. “It was a bit of a process for them at first because our farm is in Alabama, and Alabama being in the bible belt, it's kind of hard to educate people [about the plant] in a different way than they've been educated before.”
On the farm in Alabama
His parents, who were already part of the National Black Farmers Association, were able to attend a conference held in Montgomery where Rohan Marley spoke about the possibilities of hemp and what it can do for the community.
With help from a childhood friend and his parents, Coleman's family began growing industrial hemp in 2018. “We really just want to be able to champion the industrial side of it, but that takes over 100 acres of hemp,” he explained. “So we started growing CBD last year to be able to have a tangible product to give to the community, and we've been using that to make topicals and tinctures and really build awareness.”
It's also incredibly important to him that veterans in his community can access quality organic hemp products to help cope with pain, PTSD, and other ailments.
Naturally, a lot of hard work happens at Culture Valley Farms. On a typical day in Alabama, Coleman wakes up at 6 a.m. and begins his day with a jog on the old train tracks where his granddad used to work. “I feel like it's a rich place to be — I don't get that in LA, so I always love to tap into that for my morning jog,” he said. He then heads down to the barn to check the chicken coop for eggs, lets the goats out, and begins other chores for the day. “If it's hemp growing season, I'll go out and check my babies, talk to them, play some music for them. That morning light is the most magical time for them, I really like to see them wake up.”
Coleman then pays his respects at the family cemetery where many of his relatives are buried, including his Uncle Sterling and Uncle Roger, both of whom he was named after. His mother, now retired after 50 years of working for the federal government, cooks breakfast, lunch, and dinner for them every day.
Then there are the evening chores, like rounding up all the animals for their big feed.
A day in the life in California
A morning in LA looks a little different, but the dichotomy between life in both states is exciting to him. “That's really the coolest thing, being a cannabis influencer, the Ganja Guru, in the Los Angeles space, but having my hands in the dirt and really making things happen on the farm in Alabama too,” Coleman said. Before diving into phone calls and emails for the day, he enjoys a cup of mullein and stem tea, a potent respiratory herb grown on the farm mixed with weed stems he saves in a jar.
Once he leaves his home off Crenshaw Boulevard, there's no average day for Coleman in California. He may be working a job as an actor or model, serving celebrities through his craft service business, or attending industry events and engaging with the local cannabis community.
Recently, he collaborated on a project called Plant Therapy, where people exchanged anything from monstera plants to nugs of Blue Dream. The event brought like-minded people together, and they were able to chat and learn about the spectrum of plants and how terpenes and cannabinoids are beneficial in numerous ways.
Coleman's ultimate goal for Culture Valley Farms is for it to become a major source of hemp in the south, and eventually throughout the US. “Right now, we're partnered with Alabama A&M University, which is a great agricultural university in Huntsville. We're doing a lot of research and development, we're finding the perfect seed that will grow in that space for the industrial goals that we have.” Currently, the farm produces two varieties of hemp, one of which is for CBD products. They sell some products online, though they are mainly distributing around their own community.
Fortunately, his father laid down a lot of the groundwork for their success as Black agriculturalists in Alabama. Much of their equipment isn't up-to-date, however, and barriers to access still remain. “I reach out and tag just as many tractor brands as I do the cannabis brands that I like because we need some John Deere sponsorships. We need some Polaris sponsorships,” Coleman said. He and his family have the MacGyver spirit, as Coleman describes it, meaning they always get the job done despite not necessarily having the proper tools. It's an ongoing challenge to overcome the lack of equal opportunities available for people of color in the agricultural space, secure capital, and raise awareness about these issues.
“Being able to give more people the knowledge that there are Black farmers in the south that are landowners, that are young, hip, and cool … I think that'll make it more real. My dad doesn't even have a cellphone, no Instagram, so people wouldn't know he exists because he can't share his location, his life, his reels,” he said. “But being given access to moments like this will give us the opportunity to really reap the benefits of all of the seeds that he's sowed over the years.”
Photos courtesy of Culture Valley Farms