Craft, artisanal and organic cannabis. What does it all mean? We chat with Rubicon Organics’ Chief Scientific Officer to find out.
There’s no doubt that craft has become one of the biggest buzzwords within the cannabis industry. So in order to help clear the air about this growing trend, Chief Scientific Officer, Peter Doig, shares about the dedication and consistent innovation that is required to grow high-quality craft cannabis, how it’s done, and what exactly organic cannabis means.
Can you explain how cannabis growing can be considered craft
Craft product and artisanal process means painstaking attention to detail—and no shortcuts. The craft process doesn’t mean much to our consumers until they get to experience it for themselves. Our job is to ensure that every stage of their journey offers excellence.
What a lot of people don’t realize is just how hands on we are. We grow in a hybrid greenhouse, unlike a lot of indoor producers. Our organic plants are grown in living soil while most of the industry uses hydroponics. We hang dry while most other producers tray dry to accelerate the process. And again, when it comes to manicuring and harvesting, we check the plants daily to make sure our buds grow big and full. And when the flowers are just right, they’re harvested by hand.
What we’re trying to do is create a memorable user experience, one that begins from the moment our consumers pick up our products. We hope that they notice the premium glass jars and that when they open the lid and peel back the air-tight seal, they’ll quickly marvel at the notable size of each bud and the incredible room-filling aroma. Well-trimmed with a well-balanced density, our flower is perfect to the touch.
Then obviously after all of that, you actually consume the product. But for us as a team, it’s all the details in the build-up to that moment that make the difference in what we do.
People seem to use the words craft and organic interchangeably. Can you explain how the two differ?
Craft with respect to beer is a nomenclature that usually indicates small batches of production, sometimes from very select inputs, not necessarily organic, and under select processes. It renders the thought, musing or implication that it is limited in supply, and you had better get it while it lasts.
We’d like to consider our process artisanal in the sense that we believe the best things are done by hand. Once our flowers are ready to be harvested, we follow a traditional handcrafted method that doesn’t sacrifice quality. It may take more time, but our cannabis is worth the wait.
And in our case, to be organic certified you need to use inputs that are sustainably produced or harvested that are allowable under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. In turn, your production system and products are then audited by an organization—in our case the Fraser Valley Organic Producers Association (FVOPA)—to ensure that you have met an organic certified standard. In short, organic producers do not need to be craft (i.e. small batch). Likewise, craft producers do not need to be organic.
We are small-scale cannabis producers, relative to some of the larger outfits. However, we are large-scale organic cannabis producers in the Canadian market at large. I guess that makes us craft, organic-certified cannabis producers, eh?
In an organic greenhouse, it must be challenging to manage pests.
It certainly is a challenge. To be honest, it would make my life a lot easier if we grew indoors, but we do believe that organic production in a greenhouse produces superior cannabis. We are careful that our biosecurity is very tight, and we work hard to make sure we don’t introduce pests into our greenhouse. There isn’t just one thing we do, but we do use Integrated Pest Management (IPM), an ecosystem-based strategy that combines several techniques for long-term prevention of pests.
For example, we don’t use artificial pesticides, but we do purposely introduce beneficial insects to manage plant pests and diseases. And of course, everything we introduce into the greenhouse must be approved by our organic certifier, FVOPA.
What is living soil and how does it enhance your plants?
Standard potting soil is the kind you might find at your local garden centre. It is generally abiotic, in other words, sterile or “non-living.” Living soil is made up of a community of micro-organisms that work together to break down organic matter to provide available nutrition to plants while suppressing disease. The key to creating a healthy living soil is to provide the combined best balance of soil structure through blending in the highest quality compost and organic certified fertility inputs, which in turn allow the microorganisms and rhizosphere to thrive.
What makes our mixture so special is that it’s made from rich, locally harvested ingredients from the B.C. mountains, forests and oceans: glacial rock dust, Douglas Fir bark, kelp and fish compost. These ingredients help foster the growth of healthy soil microbiota, as well as what are known as the rhizosphere associations and endophytes for plant immunity.
We work closely with the composting facility in B.C.’s Sunshine Coast to make all our own soil and fertilizers. By using local resources, we have full autonomy and can ensure we’re giving our plants the best medium to express themselves fully.
What is Simply Bare’s approach to its sustainability pledge?
Our plants are grown under the sun with supplemental, high-efficient LED lighting powered by 100% green BC Hydro. Our organic Delta facility strives for net zero waste, wherein all residual organic cropping materials are composted on site and reused beneficially; and carbon is captured and reused via carbon dioxide and then rendered into the crops. Additionally, the facility is committed to water conservation. In the near future, we aim to collect and recycle 100% rainwater. Already we use sensor-based watering to reduce water consumption, as well as condensation traps and moisture sensors to recycle all water vapour collected from processing.
We’re currently developing a breeding program that selects for strains with enhanced pest and disease resistance, which in turn creates the potential for advancements in cannabinoid production and furthers our sustainability efforts.
Rubicon Organics—and the Simply Bare brand—is considered an industry leader in its commitment to sustainability and environmental best practices because it has been our priority since day one. I’m proud to say that our management staff has worked in the field of environmental conservation and agriculture for the past 20 plus years.
Now for the most important question: what’s your bud of choice?
I am particularly passionate about our BC Organic Creek Congo for those energetic and explorative times and BC Organic Blue Dream during creative and contemplative moments.
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