Grow Opportunity

Brian Rusk wins Top Grower Award for the micro category

Brian and Chanttelle Rusk find success by embracing the DIY entrepreneurial ethos

December 11, 2023  By Haley Nagasaki

Rocky Mountain House-based micro cultivator Into the Weeds grows in living soil under HLG lighting. Photo: Into the Weeds

Brian and Chanttelle Rusk came into cannabis production through interest as much as necessity. Prior to their meeting 10 years ago, a car accident had Chanttelle using nine different pharmaceuticals her neurologist eventually swapped for a cannabis prescription. Over time, difficulty securing consistent supply of strains that worked for her, in addition to the cost, led the entrepreneurs from a medical license to a commercial cultivation license, and now to winning the inaugural Top Grower award for the micro cultivation category.

Rusk had an affinity for growing from an early age.

“Where it all started was, I would see on these forums online someone say: ‘I’ve got a really nice orange flavoured sativa that had this effect.’ And all I could get was weed and it came in a bag,” he says.

“So that’s what piqued my interest years and years ago.” Fast forward to 2017, when they asked themselves if growing cannabis could be done for a living once it was legalized. The couple received their license in 2019 and began construction in their town of Rocky Mountain House, Alta.


From different lights to different mediums and different cultivars, and a shop in the garage for testing them, they settled on organic cultivation and a make of lights that brought out “different terpenes on the same Blueberry cut that I was running for years,” he says. Into the Weeds grows exclusively under HLG lights, and with similar thinking as growing for themselves, became the Canadian distributor for the company when they were unable to purchase them otherwise.

“We like our environments dialed right in,” says Chanttelle. “We’re still using the science and the horticulture side but, you know, relying on the organic side of things,” she says.

“What we keep in mind is that people are consuming this for medical purposes,” Brian continues. “Sometimes just for fun, and they want the best quality; they’re not playing around. You know the best weed I’ve smoked is grown this way.”

A team of three

The team consisting of the husband-and-wife duo, along with a recent full-time addition Zach Ginter, grow in 10-gallon pots of peat-based soil with dry organic amendments, worm castings, microbial amendments and beneficial insects.

“We really want consistency,” says Brian. “If we switch to beds or something, we really want to make sure we can still keep that.”

Ginter finds that living soil plays a vital role in the flavour of the flower. After four years of managing a local dispensary in town, having tried products grown using different methods, he attests to the quality and diversity of the terpenes and flavonoids present in craft organic batches. “I like the orangey-grapefruity Mimosa,” he says, “that has a little bit of gassiness to it as well.”

Previously, an affinity for racing dirt bikes brought Ginter down to Santa Cruz, where he was introduced to the mecca of cannabis culture. “I met a bunch of guys that grew for the dispensaries and discovered the [cannabis] world down there,” he says, the experience of which he then brought back home with him.

In addition to home growing and his time spent in retail (where he met Chanttelle), Ginter was always interested in the specifics of the genetics.

He wanted to find the real Girl Scout Cookies cuts and seeds himself, not “just have some random label it.”

‘Growing weed that makes people happy’

Currently, Into the Weeds flower is being sold under a couple different brands, including one SKU by Token Naturals with discussion for more. The team also has a “batch on the way to Mendo Medicinals,” says Rusk. “That one is country wide.” Everything of theirs that has made it to market has sold out.

With expansion on the horizon, Brian and Chanttelle detail the extent of future potential partnerships within different pathways including Jamaica, Australia and German export markets. But for now, their resources are best conserved on home soil.

The mom-and-pop shop working to break into the market has proven challenging in the Canadian landscape, “but we get to do our dream job – growing as good of cannabis as we can – and we don’t have to look over our shoulder, and we don’t have to compromise how we grow,” says Rusk.

In addition to their value statement of ‘growing weed that makes people happy,’ Into the Weeds has established preferred products and providers, and preferred methods growing that yields high-quality access to medicine, which proves that if you want something done right, often you have to do it yourself.


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