I am a farmer. Some of my greatest joys in life come out of the natural rhythms of a farm: the sprouting of spring’s first seeds, the birth of a chick, the dive of the kestrel picking its dinner from the pasture. From birth to death, the growth that takes place between is the source of a beautiful simplicity that I can’t find anywhere else.
Take, for instance, the effortless delight of an August tomato--straight from the vine, warmed in the sun. This is the most delicious tomato I can imagine and I wait for it all year long. I think most folks know that the tomato grown on a factory farm and shipped across the country is never going to taste as good as the one that came straight out of the garden. The same is true for most of the things that we consume, including cannabis.
The way that legalization was rolled out in Massachusetts has created an overlying perception that cannabis can only be grown in industrial settings. In a previous blog post, Founding Member, Eric Schwartz, wrote about the closed-door session in the Massachusetts State House that resulted in the definition of agriculture excluding marijuana within the state’s zoning law (see Chapter 40A, Section 3). The result is that, despite the fact that we are talking about a plant, this addition to the zoning law greatly impacted the way this plant is perceived in the regulated adult use market. The majority of this state’s marijuana is being grown in sterile warehouses, under lights. It’s an energy-intensive process that leaves the plant devoid of beautiful, natural implements like sun and soil…not to mention the impacts that these growing methods have on the quality of the flower. A recent article in The Boston Globe highlights this very problem, positing that “…smaller batches that are grown with love [is] where you get better results.”
Farm Bug Co-op aims to address this problem by first and foremost recognizing that bigger is not always better. The state allows cannabis cooperatives one license with up to 100,000 square feet of canopy, spread over multiple facilities. When the question of facility size is posed, we keep coming back to the same thing: craft cannabis is grown in small batches, with the care and detail that huge facilities simply cannot achieve. And when it comes down to it, FBC is committed to growing craft cannabis. This is how we stand apart from the rest while standing behind our mission to be an independent, worker–owned cooperative formed to grow and advocate for organic, sustainable, small batch craft cannabis.
We plan to grow this plant the way that plants grow best—in living soil and under the sun. We plan to implement growing systems that protect our planet, such as no-till gardening and transpiration recapturing with zero run-off. We are farmers who plan to develop relationships with other farmers, and not just those who are also growing cannabis. We imagine working alongside farms in the community to help one another succeed, and collaborating in this way meets one of the 7 Principles of Cooperatives: Concern for Community. We envision a business that strives to be successful, but never at the expense of the plant.
This plant-first ethos is at the very core of our mission. Farm Bug Co-op understands that the reason that summer tomato is so delicious is because it is grown in the soil, under the sun. We know that the microbes in the soil are a big part of what makes that tomato not only taste great, but also make it more nutritious. When the state puts limits on these microbes, they strip the flower of the very thing that makes it more delicious and medically beneficial. This is why we are advocating the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) to change the current microbial threshold protocol, which is preventing the most organically-grown and sustainably-grown cannabis from reaching the dispensary shelves.
The perception that cannabis is an “industrial” product, and not an agricultural one, has done us all grave damage. Sure, industrially is one way to grow cannabis; but as people in this state will come to realize, it is not the best way. The Founding Members of Farm Bug Co-op feel strongly that giving this plant what it needs will yield the best results. And, as a farmer who loves to grow this plant, I can’t wait to spend my days exploring how to bring out the best in it. After all, it’s just one more plant amongst the vegetables, trees, and flowers that I love to grow on my farm. The seedlings and the baby chicks grow up, the kestrel hunts for its dinner, and I tend to my plants.
Rich Koloszyc, Founding Member