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Local man turned CEO aims to revitalize Southern Tier through hemp industry

BINGHAMTON (WBNG) – Kaelan Castetter isn’t just a rising entrepreneur. He’s a local man, looking to take advantage of the Southern Tier’s push to be a leader in the hemp industry.

Castetter’s father, Jim, started the first hemp-infused wine business, Hemp Wine America, back in 1997.

It was that business that inspired Castetter to get involved in the hemp industry, now serving as the Chief Executive Officer of the Castetter Sustainability Group, or CSG Hemp.

“It’s really important I can do this with my family, and then my community,” Castetter said. “Seeing the potential and excitement that hemp-infused win and in the ’90s really drove us to continue to push it on to the mainstream. [CSG is] producing the highest quality material with maximum efficiency.”

Born in Binghamton, Castetter knows the importance hemp can play on his local area.

“We believe in Binghamton, we believe in the area,” Castetter said. “We think it can be the next green valley of opportunity for the state of New York.”

What separates CSG Hemp from its competitors is a unique method, called hang-drying.

“It’s a mammoth task. You have to get every single branch in here, hang it, wait for it dry and bring it off,” Castetter said. “You have to have the space for it, and so we’re utilizing the fencing so that we can get in and access that space instead of going up high.”

The method is paying dividends.

“By the end of the harvest season, we will have processed through here about 150 acres that have come in and been dried. That’s a quarter million plants,” Castetter said.

It’s this method and leadership of Castetter that’s caught the attention of people who work with him.

“It’s great. He’s a great motivator, he keeps it going, he’s very bright,” said Peter Pappas, general manager of CSG Hemp. “He’s very talented. So as a team, working with him is terrific.”

But for Castetter, the ultimate goal is to revitalize the community he’s from.

“It’s a special place, and therefore we are able to harness that energy, the innovation, the ingenuity of those that live in Binghamton and do it right here in the city, which is very important for us,” Castetter said.

Something people like Pappas know is an important goal.

“To be a native here in Binghamton, to watch Binghamton go through its hard times in the ’80s and ’90s when we lost all of our manufacturing, to see a new industry come up from the ground up, it’s fantastic,” Pappas said.

Cal Dymowski

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