Top shelf cannabis can come from wildly different environments. It can come from small retrofitted operations located in forgotten industrial zones. It can come from sun swept hillsides in the California mountains or technologically advanced facilities in bustling business parks. There isn’t many places great cannabis can’t come from. Mother Earth Farms (MEF) is a small tier-two grow operation that’s starting to come into their own as a craft producer out of the Port Angeles area. While they believe (just like many others) the state’s cannabis regulations hamper craft brands, their latest harvests prove that little guys can carve out enough market space to make some noise, even if the regulations aren’t in their favor.
MEF knows how to play the game. Following the convoluted compliance issues and ever-changing landscape of rules and regulations set by the Washington State Liquor Cannabis and Control Board (WSLCB). Not to mention, fighting with retailers over price margins and wholesale prices just to get a few of your strains on the shelf. Then producers are forced to keep up with consumer (and retailer) demands for the newest hyped strains.
Mother Earth Farms Is Dialing It In
MEF operates within all these variables while still producing true “handcrafted cannabis” from seed to sale. Over the past year, they’ve dialed in their operational procedures to compensate for the lack of overall manpower. A few factors, in particular, stood out as culprits for their consistent success and they decided to refine the business to take advantage of them. In the garden, increasing the garden’s airflow balanced out the environment and allowed the plants to mature more during their normal growing cycle which usually lasts eight to nine weeks.
Airflow goes a long way in producing a hearty harvest. Airflow is important for things like CO2 and humidity levels. If the humidity gets too high mold can grow and other pests like mildew may flourish. If the CO2 gets too low, the plant will go into “nutrient lockout” which is obviously bad for the plant which has a short amount of time to suck up as many nutrients as possible.
On the business side, realizing menu curation and selection go a long way in increasing the size of orders. Retailers want varied strain selection to meet their customers’ needs. Many cannabis consumers don’t buy the same strain twice in a row or ever again in some cases. This forces producers to get creative with the menu curation, their strain’s lifecycles, and harvesting dates. You need to be cropping enough of your hit strain (Falcon 9 in this case) to fill orders while giving retailers enough other options to fill their shelves when the hit strain inevitably runs dry.
Mother Earth Farms Is All About The Terps
Flavor and aromatics are the names of the game. Whether you’re a grower trying to maximize terpene production, a retailer looking for the hottest flavors, or the stoner who just wants something that tastes good, we basically want the same thing from out weed. This is why MEF puts a premium on terpene production and health above all else. If some strains smell and taste better than they look, so be it. Some producers will stress plants to manipulate trichome production to increase jar appeal, a very important factor in recreational markets. However, this results in decreased flavor, aroma, and taste, something MEF won’t stand for anymore.
Give Producers More Control
MEF’s weed needs to be sold in a certain way. Every brand wants its weed sold in its own unique way where each strain’s benefits are highlighted. If producers could sell their own weed through some kind of vertical integration system, MEF wouldn’t have to solely rely on budtenders to sell their product. While many budtenders sell weed based on the objective needs of their customers, many just sell the weed they like for their own personal reasons. Reasons that could be based on any number of things like the rappers they listen to or the brands they follow on their social media feeds. Even if MEF is on a retailer’s shelf, there’s no assurance that their weed is being shown or upsold on the same level as other brands on the shelves.
This all affects their bottom line and brings us back to producers having more control over the distribution of their product. California’s vertically integrated market allows growers to own a retail license on top of their producer and processor licenses. Vertically integrated systems are partially responsible for the Cookies brand being looked too as an industry flagship. Cookies can control the narrative of their product from seed to sale, which lets them create the flavors they want smoke and tell the stories they want to tell.
If Washington had more vertically integrated regulations, MEF wouldn’t have to rely on hit strains like Falcon 9 to move other cultivars that are just as good, but might be meant for niche consumers. Strains like Bahama Mama is a purple citrus banger that might not have the jar appeal of something like their Donkey Butter. Their Crunk Boat strain’s aromas won’t knock your socks off like Bahama Mama’s, but it might be one of the smoothest tasting flowers I’ve smoked. Cannabis strains are unique and should be sold as such. MEF is breeding Grape Bubba with Exotic Genetix’ Tina strain to see what kind of OG-grape phenotypes they can whip up. Julian and Drew can only hope their latest pheno-hunts will yield the next Falcon 9 strain, but only time will tell if the budtenders like their next cultivars as much as they do.