The face of cannabis is all about the green. Cannabis is a plant from the earth, being all-natural, and those who support it often also care about the planet’s well-being. But the reality is, not every single cannabis business is as green and eco-friendly as the overall industry claims. Many businesses end up polluting the Earth, or not doing as good of a job at prioritizing environmental issues. At Eco Firma Farms, however, this is not the case. The company is on its way to becoming the first carbon-neutral cannabis farm, and it already has a very low carbon footprint. CULTURE spoke to Jesse Peters, CEO of Eco Firma Farms, about his love of the plant and approach to protecting the environment.
What makes your business special or unique?
I would say probably what makes us fairly unique is that we are an indoor farm and all of our electricity is 100 percent carbon-neutral. I’ve actually gone through the process and done everything we need to do be wind-powered, and we are the first farm to get an award from Portland General Electric. They were actually very taken aback giving an award to a cannabis company!
What steps are you taking towards being the first carbon-neutral cannabis farm, and why is this important to you?
The steps we are taking with the electricity are obviously our largest steps, and the fact that it is an indoor farm. We also have our recycling program, and the next step for us is getting into a position where we can eliminate all waste from the farm. When it comes to becoming carbon neutral, the first 90 percent is easy and the last 10 is hard. You have to consider how you get your nutrients, how you store things, if your employees bring their lunches to work and what happens to that waste. It’s easy to go pretty far down the rabbit hole with this, so our biggest step is figuring all of that out.
Tell us about your process using wind-renewable energy.
They set my account up and they have a certain amount of electricity they will allocate, and it has to be a certain amount of metering. They went in and audited all of our usage, found that we qualified and set up our accounts, and immediately started us towards being carbon neutral. We have now been authorized a grant to convert to solar as well, so the next phase would be to put a solar grade on the roof of our building.
Tell us about the natural pesticides you use and how they work.
We don’t use any pesticides at all; we use beneficial bugs, so we have, for lack of a better term, a biosphere in each room. It’s a constant watch of good bugs and what type of good bugs all the way through the soil to the plant to make sure we have a living insectary going at all times in any room to handle pest problems, and that’s why we spray nothing.
What are some of the products you are most proud of, and why?
I would say that the products that we’ve grown that I’m most proud of would be our Voodoo Child, just because it’s a project that we bred, and the genetics we grew have made their way out into the world. They actually got out by accident and were delivered as Gorilla Glue, so we had to let people know. It’s done really well; it’s held up and been really stable, so we are just proud of it as one of the first products we’ve bred. I’m also very proud of our Maui Bubble Kiss.
What is your favorite strain?
Right now I would say that my favorite strain in the garden would probably be our Cherry Pie, just because I love the way it looks. I love the way it grows and it’s a little lower on the THC scale, which is my preference because of the terpene profile.
What do you think about legalization so far? What could be done better or differently?
What I like about legalization is that I am less worried about the police kicking my door in on a regular basis. I am happy to see that at least among the industry there is a wider footprint of acceptance, and we are starting to see a lot of new consumers come online that have found cannabis for the first time. It’s really cool to see that stigma start to erode away and watch this industry gain moment through it. That being said, the new administration and the Attorney General are definitely in the dark ages when it comes to a lot of things, and cannabis in particular. As these systems roll out from state to state it’s extremely difficult for lawmakers to govern something they don’t understand among a group of people who have been doing it for a very long time. It is hard to navigate and definitely won’t be easy until there is a full regulatory system.
How has cannabis impacted your life, and why did you decide to be a grower?
Cannabis has always been a part of my life. My parents were growers, just small hobby growers, so it’s always been around for me, and as I grew up it was a natural progression. I experimented when I was young and grew a plant when I was 17 with no clue, and started helping friends in late 1990s when medical card system came online. It really just made sense; there is something very fulfilling about being able to cultivate plants, whether it is a home garden or cannabis, and it’s a rewarding plant to cultivate whether you consume it or not. I’ve been doing this for a long time, so it’s really more of a way of life and less of a decision.
Do you have anything exciting you want to announce?
We are going through the process of expanding, as with most cannabis businesses; it’s truly exciting to now be bicoastal. We are looking at operations in California and Nevada as we expand and grow with the industry. It’s exciting to be expanding. We are also looking into Portland, Maine on the East Coast.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I think it’s easy when you’re an outdoor farm to feel there aren’t ways you can improve ecologically, but look at how you generate the power for vegetative plants, for trimmers, how you are storing fuel. I am trying to start getting farms in all aspects of this industry in that pattern of realizing that if you create it from the base we can create farms and businesses in a better fashion than Monsanto grows our food.