Technology has advanced immensely in the last century, but the fundamentals of farming remain the same. Today, we’re more conscious of what we put into our bodies and seek out farm-to-table produce as much as possible.
This extends to the pot industry, where traditional methods of farming are still applied. Canada’s New legislation permits Canadian adults to grow up to four pot plants at home in select provinces. However, with clean air and more direct sunlight, these plants thrive outdoors in their natural environment.
For decades, the BC Kootenay region has been popular for pot cultivation, with towns like Nelson at the epicentre of the industry. And at present, SpeakEasy Growers Collective (CSE:EASY) is the only licensed producer (LP) applicant in the region, with a 290-acre facility set to honour the area’s farming traditions.
CEO of the collective, Marc Geen, is from a family of traditional farmers, and now he’s on a mission to help small growers navigate the legal pot landscape. Here’s a look at why the collective is set to be the largest pot production in Western Canada.
The potential for growth
A collective of experienced growers allows for bigger margins and maximum output, and the SpeakEasy (CSE:EASY) plantation is set to cover 2.6 million sq. ft. with continued expansion to 5.6 million sq. ft. in 2020. SpeakEasy’s plans to double their production area means their production capacity will also increase to 150,000 kgs. If you’re looking for a comparison, think of the size of 70 football fields.
These measures make SpeakEasy the largest LP in Western Canada in terms of surface area. And in the past few weeks alone, a massive amount of progress has been made at the site, including the installation of 2.6 km of fencing, power lines, masts mounted for security cameras, the continued construction of the security building, and more.
SpeakEasy is currently valued at $70 million CAD and is expected to make $126 million next year, with an estimated $250 million in 2021.
The environmental role
With an arid desert landscape, the right amount of elevation, clean air, an abundance of clean water, warm temperatures, and hours of sunlight, it’s no wonder the Southern Okanagan’s ‘Golden Mile’ will soon be home to the largest outdoor pot production in Western Canada.
The iconic valley region has ideal climatic conditions and it’s already home to more than 200 wineries and over 800 farms. Farming pot outdoors allows LPs to work with lower costs while also reducing the carbon footprint of the industry.
Of course, nutrient content in the soil is the real gas pedal for outdoor growers. Because the light and atmospheric CO2 are set, the grower only has to worry about controlling growth with the right balance of nutrients.
Lower production costs
There’s no denying it, outdoor pot farming results in a low cost to build and cultivate, compared to greenhouse growing and growing indoors. The cost per gram is also lower to cultivate when compared to growing pot in a greenhouse.
By treating pot like any other form of commercial farming, the SpeakEasy (CSE:EASY) annual harvest is set to see 40,000 kg of product in the first year, with 90,000 kg expected the following year.
But the SpeakEasy plan is not to only to use an indoor plant for craft specialties, but also to have a huge area as a plantation. Although the prices for outdoor pot flowers are much lower than for indoor plants, there are two advantages: (a) The price for setting up a field plantation is $10 per sq. ft. (b) The production costs for pot products are 25 to 50 cents per gram.
Traditional farming origins
The Geen family has farmed in the Golden Mile for over 120 years, including managing Sun-Rype, one of Canada’s most recognized agricultural companies. They also have 15 years of practice in pot cultivation, which is why the best elements of pot culture come together with years of agricultural expertise.
Father Merv and son Marc Geen were in in the seventh generation of fruit juices and have also operated their own apple orchards for this purpose. The future will see them continue to transfer their expertise to pot farming and production.