I had a really great opportunity to visit my first Cannabis farm when Michael Drechsler of Landrace Farms reached out on Instagram and sent me an invite to tour the operation he and his wife manage; located in Oroville Washington, right over the US border about an hours drive from our home in Penticton, BC.
Crossing the border is always a pain in the ass, although exciting once you’ve gotten to the other side and I'm here to tell you, this trip didn't disappoint - although uneventful (thankfully) there was still an uneasy nervousness approaching the border crossing. If you are from either US or Canada you’ve likely heard the stories of US border patrol being cruel and unreasonable when it comes to Cannabis use by Canadians crossing the border.
Like I said, this crossing was easy peasy lemon squeezy (travelers tip: avoid bringing up any Cannabis use, past, present, or future) and we were quickly back on the road to the weed farm to see Michael, Tara, and the gang.
"Tara and I were hired by a small investment group to manage a complex of 4 farms with the help of a great staff comprised of 4 full time employees, a couple of part timers who help out with larger tasks and then of course harvest crew which will be between 15-20 people when we get cranking." says Drechsler.
Intros and friendly greetings commenced as we got out of the car, followed by some record keeping for security purposes. Visitors to the farm must be signed in and out and wear a lanyard and tag while on the property so the powers-that-be can keep track of who is coming in and out of the farm.
First stop was in the shop where we learned the basics of a natural farming practice they use called Korean Natural Farming. This practice was developed by a Korean man named Cho Han-kyu who has spent his entire life in agriculture, and has studied, developed, and passed his knowledge down to farmers across the world.
One of these students is now teaching farmers in the United States, a man named Chris Trump living in Boise, Idaho who offers in-person or online courses in Korean Natural Farming. Drechsler has been learning from Trump, and is even headed to Korea soon to expand his knowledge in natural pesticide preparations.
"The fundamental insight of KNF is to strengthen the biological functions of every aspect of plant growth to increase productivity and nutrition. Biology thereby reduces or eliminates the need for chemical interventions, whether to protect against predation and competition with other plants. For example, IMO metabolism produces complete proteins, while insects prefer incomplete proteins.
KNF avoids the use of waste products such as manure, which reduces the chance of transferring pathogens from the waste back into the food production chain, although in nitrogen-poor conditions adding manure can increase yield.
-Use the nutrients contained within the seeds
-Use indigenous microorganisms (IMO’s)
-Maximize inborn potential with fewer inputs
-Avoid commercial fertilizers
-Avoid tilling" (Wikipedia)
Amendments are added to the plant as it's needs change throughout it's life cycle ; the farmer must pay careful attention to the evolution of their garden and feed accordingly. The cycle is not unlike that of a human, and in the case of Cannabis we use the female bodies of both plant and human as strikingly similar. As a human evolves from infant to toddler, their food requirements change as does the Cannabis plant.
Here's the fun part, the recipes for each stage of feeding are made of things like fermented fruit, barley, wood chips, fish guts (you THINK you're ready for the smell, but you're not fucking ready for the smell, trust me.) This special program is applied in a dilution with water via foliar feeds and drenches and it not only gives the plant all the nutrients it needs to grow (scratch that, THRIVE) but it also fends off fungal problems like Powdery Mildew. Beneficial bugs are planted throughout the garden like the parasitoid wasp that lays it's eggs inside aphids, killing the aphids and birthing the next generation of wasps to do the same.
Michael and Ian continued to show us around the farm for 2 straight hours filling our brains with so much incredible information about farming commercial Cannabis using the KNF program and their passion is really fucking obvious. These guys love the plant, the Earth that grows it, the people they work with, they are just downright excited about life on the farm and I can't blame them.
Their operation proves that organic, bio-dynamic, no till, living soil, OUTDOOR, sungrown, commercial Cannabis farming is viable in the South Okanagan and beyond. This practice isn't just for Cannabis either, you can use it on your fruit, vegetables, grass, whatever lives in the Plant Kingdom can be grown to thrive naturally, the way Earth intended.