On October 17, 2018 Canada became the first western country to federally legalize Cannabis after nearly 100 years of prohibition. When the day finally came, many were skeptical - rightfully so. To be honest, the government regulated roll-out of this highly profitable yet formerly illegal industry has been *cough*bullshit*cough*. Nonetheless we have had a flurry of retail outlets and some local greenhouses popping up over the last 4 years and as a result the industry has been gaining momentum despite the regulatory setbacks.
The Green Mountain greenhouse in rural Kaleden is the latest to get their Health Canada standard cultivation license and in the last 2 weeks have successfully planted their first round of Sweet Fuel OG in their 18,000 ft2 custom-built, sun grown greenhouse.
I had the privileged opportunity to meet Jeff Thorne, VP of Operations who is a 20 year veteran of the local industry, and who has cultivated under the MMAR, ACMPR, and now the Cannabis Act. He knows his way around the plant, the production, and it's regulations and invited me to come check it out to learn more about their operation in the South Okanagan.
This is not your conventional high-polluting Cannabis factory; every plant is grown with as much natural sunlight as possible, and when more is needed the greenhouse is supplemented with high-efficiency LED lighting. The greenhouse, processing, drying/curing rooms, and administration office are all within a custom-built, highly-secured facility with state-of-the-art automation for irrigation, black-out, and humidity/airflow/ventilation. It was important for the team to develop a facility specially crafted for this crop; a typical greenhouse meant for vegetables can be tricky to work with when the goal is achieving optimal Cannabis production.
Equally important to the team is the environmental impact of Cannabis production, so GM has elaborate plans to become carbon-negative through the next 2 phases of construction as the other 7 greenhouses are built. Using features like aquaponic nutrients collected from fish living in re-captured and well water that will be recycled and recirculated to reduce water waste in our semi-arid region, as well as composting used up living soil, geothermal heating/electricity, natural ventilation, clean organic living soil, and more.
Once the "teens" (clones grown out and ready for flower) arrive from the local Sweet Valley Cannabis nursery to the GM facility, they are planted into a living-soil growing medium in a "Sea-of-green" formation to maximize efficiency and reduce cost throughout the flowering cycle. "Living soil" is a natural growing medium that is described as supporting "the community of microbes (in the soil) working together breaking down organic matter which, in turn, provides valuable nutrition to the plants. Soil microbes are essential for decomposing organic matter and recycling old plant material."
The "Sea-of-green" or SOG method entails planting the "teens" closer together and immediately triggering the flowering light phase (12hrs of dark + light) so the plants don't get too tall and will minimize the risk of disease (less time = less possibility of exposure to pests, mold, etc). The plants are grown-out on tables that will be easier on the humans pruning and harvesting the plants with less bending over or reaching very high, resulting in less job site accidents. A quicker turn-over time ensures the end-product will be consistently available to the consumer with no lack of availability on the store shelves and will be readily available to those who need it.
While locals won't be able to get their hands on the Green Mountain brand in the rec market for the foreseeable future, rest assured the product is going to a good place. Green Mountain has committed to working with the Manitoba Metis
Federation to help members of that community access clean, green, medical Cannabis for a variety of ailments like (but not limited to) diabetes, arthritis, and substance abuse. This alliance includes clinical researchers from the University of Toronto who will collect data from different cannabinoids and other compounds and will be used to further advance research + development in the medical Cannabis field that have otherwise gone undiscovered. This is a critically important endeavor for clinicians to deliver treatment plans to folks who need it, and further cementing Cannabis as the powerfully natural healer that it is.
For those not in the MMF community, the Greener Life Medical affiliation can help folks suffering with PTSD, anxiety, chronic pain, insomnia, epilepsy, arthritis, eating disorders, and those suffering from cancer symptoms who want to explore using Cannabis for their conditions but don't have a knowledgeable and trustworthy health care provider to find what works for them. The highly experienced team of clinicians and researchers are available for folks who are new to the Cannabis world all the way to those who are considered experienced but need greater medical access. They are an excellent source for research based information and are available by visiting their website or calling 1-833-851-6451.
The remainder of the finished product has been spoken for by unnamed but established Canadian brands and will be supplying them for years to come. From a business start-up perspective you can't ask for a better situation than by having your product sold for the next few years before it's even grown. I truly commend the team for what they've been able to plan, create, and execute - it's no easy task (especially in a newly regulated industry) and this team has done it with flying colours.
When I left the facility after my visit I couldn't help but feel overcome with a profound sense of satisfaction. Green Mountain is not only environmentally responsible, but socially responsible by maintaining honourable relationships with Indigenous communities locally and from across Canada. I am truly happy to have this facility in the South Okanagan representing high quality, naturally farmed, sun grown BC Bud coming from the best growing region in Canada.