June 18, 2021
Jean Ko Din
Q&A with Broken Coast head grower Kevin Anderson
Kevin Anderson doesn’t believe in shortcuts when growing top flower.
As head grower of craft medical cannabis producer, Broken Coast Cannabis, Anderson takes it upon himself to meticulously guide every stage of the production process.
Broken Coast operates a 44,000-sq.-ft. indoor cultivation facility in Duncan, B.C., on Vancouver Island. The company turned heads in the B.C. craft community when Aphria acquired Broken Coast for $230 million in 2018. While the facility has undergone significant expansions over the years, Anderson maintains that the company remains “craft by choice.”
Anderson oversees 30 hydroponic grow rooms with a total production capacity of about 5,000 kilograms per year. He likes to keep grow rooms small and dedicated to only one specific strain so that he can tailor the nutrition program and the environment controls to that cultivar.
Grow Opportunity took a virtual tour of Anderson’s grow rooms as he shared his small-batch philosophy for Broken Coast.
Grow Opportunity: Can you explain more about your philosophy of doing everything by hand?
Kevin Anderson: I really spend a lot of time making sure that every step of the process – the cannabis that’s being grown here that’s being trimmed – is really done to a high standard. We grow it with love, we trim it with love, we process it with love, we package it with love.
So you should be receiving really, really high-quality, pristine buds that have been really carefully looked after during that whole process.
GO: How did you train to be a master grower?
KA: I’d say it’s a combination of my educational background and passion for the cannabis industry. I have my diploma in electronic engineering and also studied to be an arborist. For those who don’t know, it’s the practice of arboriculture, which is the cultivation, management and study of horticulture. So I had a good skill set. I coupled that with a lot of hard work, dedication, love for the cannabis industry. I’ve also grown a lot of weed and done a lot of personal research and development.
GO: Because your facility is fully hydroponic, how much time in your day is dedicated to monitoring these environmental controls? How much of it is automated?
KA: We’re looking at obviously the humidity, the temperature, the CO2 levels, the light levels of the room. But yeah, because we grow in a hydroponics system, we’re spending a lot of time monitoring the dryness of the rockwool block, as well as the EC (electrical conductivity) and the pH of that block, and using various techniques to keep all those parameters in the sweet spot.
And that does change between cultivars, like the nutrition of the plant does. Being able to replicate that in a large scale is very difficult and that’s why we’re so focused on the craft of growing cannabis, which is really, giving that plant the exact nutrition, the right watering in the right environment that it likes, to bring out the best of that plant.
GO: In a virtual tour of your facility, you showed us a really interesting flower room where the bottom two-thirds of the plants have been pruned down. Why do you do that?
KA: We really like to prune a lot of the plants off so that we’re only growing the highest quality part of the plant. We think everyone that opens a bottle of Broken Coast product should really get a nice large bud, or at least a few nice-sized chunks. We don’t want people to be disappointed when they open our bottles, so we really only grow high-quality cannabis in all of our flower.
GO: Wouldn’t you be compromising yield by doing this?
KA: No one should be opening a bottle of Broken Coast product and be disappointed with the buds they got, because they were the low down buds on the plant. So, you know, we prune our plants very heavily, which we take a hit on yield for that. But it results in us only growing very high-quality cannabis. So that’s why the extracts that we have, and the dried flower that we have is only high-quality flower.
GO: Do you use the same methods for extracts?
KA: Yes, we don’t grow any differently for extract crops. We believe in quality and consistency – its’ at the forefront of everything we do, which is why we use the same approach. It’s important that every bottle has only high-quality buds in it and our extracts are made with the same flower, making them the highest quality.
GO: Is it different to grow for medical users than for recreational users?
KA: Good question. Not for us, because space is limited, we hold a specific amount for our medical and recreational products. Beyond that, everything is the same high-quality, consistency across the board.
GO: Do you have a favourite strain that you are growing right now?
KA: This is a crop of Pipe Dream, which is our newest release and something we’re really proud of. It took us a long, long time to bring this to market through a lot of pheno hunting for something that we felt was special. And then once we did, we had to grow it several times, we always do, just to really make sure that we were happy with it.
It’s really one I love to grow. It produces really nice, big tight buds. It’s got that really nice colouration, lots of purples and a real nice, frosty kind of colour to it. Smells amazing.
Another product we’re really excited for is the new genetics we have for our first wax products. Again, we are only putting the high-quality flower into the wax. There’s no small stuff to put in so it’s really just the stuff that you would get in a bottle. You’ll find that in the wax too.
That’s all high-quality flower that goes into making those vapes, as well, so you know it really gives you a much better experience with regard to flavour and that’s again, what it’s all about for us, is we really want to have really unique, flavourful cannabis that people really enjoy.
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