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Highlights: Grower’s Luncheon 2021

Master growers share their knowledge and insight at Grow Up's Growers' Luncheon 2021


December 7, 2021
By Jean Ko Din


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From left to right: Julie Rajnak, Thrive Cannabis; Ryan Wankel, Heliospectra; Brian Coutts, A&L Canada Labs; Pat Scanlon, Entourage Health Corp.; Alexandre Gauthier, Origine Nature; Patrick Page, MTL Cannabis; Max White, Aroma Cannabis; and Genevieve Newton, Stewart Farms. (Photo: Dominic Chan, Grow Up Conference & Expo)

With retail shelves full of middle-grade cannabis, master growers say the industry has a responsibility to educate the consumer on its way to a more mature market.

“We have a big problem with understanding that we’re not marketing for ourselves,” said Origine Nature master grower, Alexandre Gauthier. “We’re not marketing for people who understand quality. We need to bring that education. Once the education comes, and that’s an effort that has to be done by the entire cannabis industry, then we’re going to be able to really predict trends.”

On Dec. 1, Grow Opportunity hosted a Grower’s Luncheon at the 2021 Grow Up Conference, Awards and Expo in Niagara Falls, Ont. During the luncheon, master growers and industry leaders share their thoughts on how to move the industry forward together.

Panelists were Julie Rajnak, Thrive Cannabis; Ryan Wankel, Heliospectra; Brian Coutts, A&L Canada Labs; Pat Scanlon, Entourage Health Corp.; Alexandre Gauthier, Origine Nature; Patrick Pagé, MTL Cannabis; Max White, Aroma Cannabis; and Genevieve Newton, Stewart Farms.

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An audience member at the luncheon asked about the buzz around producers, like Lyfted Farms in California, that are marketing cultivars with 37 per cent THC content.

The panelists unanimously agreed that they have no interest in joining the race for the highest THC levels in their products, which is why they emphasized the importance of consumer education.

“When you’re looking at something with 37 per cent THC, that is still very much legacy people wanting to get as high as possible as fast as possible,” said Gauthier.

“You can have a longer joint and experience the terpenes, and you can properly dose where you want to be. Do you truly want something with 37 per cent THC?”

Patrick Pagé of MTL Cannabis said that cultivating a good workplace culture is integral to a successful operation. (Photo: Dominic Chan, Grow Up Conference & Expo)

Beyond consumer education, panelists agreed that growers in the industry are hungry for more collaboration and sharing of knowledge. Communication is the key to success in a cultivation team, said Scanlon.

“A lot of communication is an issue amongst growers. They don’t want to admit mistakes and learning from your team, you have to learn from every mistake,” he said. “The number one thing is to stay calm and not overreacting and assuming.”

When your facility is monitoring many data points, there is a temptation to react to every problem that arises without taking a step back and taking their time to fully diagnose the problem.

White added that he and his team host open table meetings on Tuesdays because it empowers the team to make mistakes and learn from them. It’s also a good way to check on team morale and make sure that no one is burning out.

“Culture is huge and team building. You are as good as your team,” said Pagé. “We even ask some of our employees not to be in the flower rooms when they’re in a bad mood. We want them to actually take time out to settle themselves and come back when they’re ready because it’s respectful to the plant. That carries on to the medicine that is helping people in the long run. Energy is everything.”

Wankel said that as a master grower, his biggest responsibility is no longer managing the plant, but managing people. While he worked at a large cultivation facility in Denver, Wankel would play rock music in the grow rooms. A reporter who was touring his facility asked if the music helped the plants.

“They were kind of confused because I said I played music for my employees,” he said. “If I wanted the employees to be motivated, they’re the ones that are physically connecting with the plants, that energy is transferring to these crops.”


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