Cannabis grower addresses Andover concerns

Dustin Sherman stands during Tuesday’s ZBA hearing to answer a question.

By Cynthia Prairie
©2023 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Dustin Sherman believes he did not get much of a chance to address the concerns of the Andover community at Tuesday night’s hearing conducted by the Zoning Board of Adjustment at Andover Town Hall.

With about 70 people in person and on Zoom, the meeting was more like a raucous public comment session than a staid quasi-judicial hearing.

See: Andover residents criticize proposed pot farm.

But by luck, The Chester Telegraph spoke with Sherman on Wednesday morning and asked him about the hearing and his plans for his THC-cannabis farm on a hilltop in Andover, specifically to address the concerns of the community that he could not last night.

First off, Sherman, who came from New Jersey and now lives in Rutland as he works on his Andover property, said that he believes he wasn’t allowed to do a presentation at the beginning of the hearing, which would have answered many of the concerns of those in attendance. Sherman called it “absolutely surprising. … I could have tried to interrupt, but I raised my hand.”   During the 90-minute session, he spoke two or three times, attempting to address claims that had been circling the community in a letter from two full-time residents and three second-homeowners.

We asked him to address the concerns expressed at the meeting.

Light pollution that will mask our starry night skies

“The plants do need lights at certain times but only for about a month. … They don’t need 18 hours a day all the time.”  For a short period of time he says he will need to extend the day with lights to get the plants to 18 hours. However, he adds, that he intends to cover the lighted portion of his greenhouses with a “panda film” that is white on one side and black on the other to prevent any light from escaping and causing light pollution.

Aquifer depletion

“When you start plants, they aren’t going to use that much water. There will be watering but we will start with only 400 to 500 plants.” He added that he intends to use hugelkultur beds, a type of raised bed that is filled deep with organic material that decays along the way. This method is considered great at retaining moisture, thereby saving water.  And the decaying matter also helps feed and warm the plants.

Water runoff and chemicals

“We will follow state requirements to control agricultural runoff and will follow state requirements (under H.270 Page 40) even if Gov. Scott doesn’t sign it into law,” Sherman says. He added that he will be getting a shipment of cover crop seed probably this week that will help prevent soil erosion.

“There are no chemicals. We will be using all organic inputs. The state has a list of approved pesticides, fungicides and beneficial bacteria that we will chose from. Our fertilizers will be all organic.”

The smell of cannabis plants

“Classifying cannabis as noxious?” Sherman says, “Well, cow manure can be noxious.  Yes, there is a smell. But I don’t believe I would classify it as noxious. And the smell also isn’t dangerous.” The odor, he says, comes from when the plant flowers, and from start to finish that lasts eight to 10 weeks. But he says, in the early stages — starting in the end of August — there isn’t that much of an odor. But by mid-September to mid-October, the plants put out more odor.  And then what you smell may be totally dependent on which way the wind blows, he says.


“There is no traffic situation,” Sherman contends. Employees, he says, will drive in and be parked all day. How many people is he talking about? For planting 400 to 500 plants, three people. For harvesting, four to five. “There won’t be dozens of cars going in and out all day long.” And, he adds, this will be a seasonal business only.


For any recreational cannabis operation, whether it is growing, processing or retail, security is by far the biggest concern. Sherman says that the state offers a menu of security options that a grower must chose from and he is opting for fencing with a controlled access, cameras , alarms and motion-activated flood lights.

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 40 years. Cynthia has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland, and has won numerous state awards for her reporting. As an editor, she has overseen her staffs to win many awards for indepth coverage. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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