The Phantom Farms: a window to a sustainable future
The Phantom Farms have been licensed recreational cannabis producers in Oregon since 2008 on the principle that the best products come directly from the ground. Using organic methods, sustainable practices and filtered volcanic water in their indoor and outdoor facilities, they provide a thriving ecosystem: the perfect environment for tasty and potent cannabis.
A tour of their facilities was organized to educate consumers and promote transparency on their sustainable growing practices by visiting their indoor culture as well as their outdoor operations in Bend in southern Oregon reported by the magazine DOPE.
If you haven't noticed, health and wellness are the biggest trends in cannabis since 2018. People are starting to pay more attention to what they put in their bodies and how their products are transformed. When it comes to food, consumers can trust labels, we know we are looking for things like organic vegetables, wild fish and eggs from free range hens, but what about when to find responsible source cannabis?
Just like consuming organic vegetables, consuming organic cannabis is better for your body and the environment. However, due to the regulations and the relative novelty of the industry, it is a little more complicated to make organic. The term "organic", used on food and crop labeling, is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture. Since cannabis is illegal at the federal level, producers cannot take advantage of official USDA organic certification, which means that there are no universal standards for growing organic cannabis. While there is evidence that some states are adopting language and certifications that will allow consumers to determine if the cannabis they buy is grown and produced sustainably. Some companies are trying to change this, including the Cannabis Certification Council, Certified Kind and Clean Green, a non-profit organization. In Washington State, the WSDA is in the process of creating a certification program for organic cannabis.
But not all farms are waiting for regulatory oversight to put the principles of organic farming into practice. Since 2008, Phantom Farms has strived to offer its patients and recreational customers superior quality buds, grown sustainably.
“We've always been organic,” says Allister Schultz, master farmer and one of the founders of Phantom Farms. “We wanted to do it from the start. It is part of our philosophy and it is important to us that we do it the right way because we want people to see that we are not taking short cuts that have a negative impact ”.
Located in the Rouge Valley in southern Oregon, Phantom Farm's outdoor operations boast 12000 square meters of cover (in addition to its 450 square meter indoor facilities, which include a distribution warehouse and an extraction laboratory located on site). Their responsible cultivation methods and permaculture principles go hand in hand with the emphasis placed on the development of quality terpenes. The secret of their “tasty and powerful cannabis” lies in the ground.
"There are test results showing that organic cultivation and cultivation in living soils produce higher nutrients, phytonutrients and phytocannabinoids," said Schultz. “Since we started on the path of living soil and“ Korean ”natural agriculture, we have obtained better results in terpene.”
The terpenes are best known as the aromatic combinations responsible for the smell and flavor of the bud, but their main purpose as phytocannabinoids is to protect the plant. Terpenes are largely determined by the strain and the growing environment, which is why organic methods like "Korean" natural farming produce a richer taste and flavor.
“Korean” natural farming, also known as peasant farming, is a permaculture technique that focuses on feeding the soil, not the plant. The objective is to create an environment favorable to micronutrients so that they thrive and multiply. Instead of simply trying to block the plant full of nutrients, KNF produces a soil environment where life is abundant and naturally creates plant nutrition.
Part of it involves making ferments and tinctures and using them at specific times during the plant's growth cycle. Phantom relies on nutritious compost teas made from local ingredients that they themselves have nourished or cultivated. Think of it as a kombucha tea designed to help their cultures thrive, except that it's infused with things like leftover fish and Himalayan blackberries.
“We collect seawater and put it in our teas, it adds really impressive minerals to your soil. We make water-soluble calcium from the eggs of our chickens, which only mix the eggshells and vinegar to extract the calcium that the plants really need at the end of flowering. We use animal bones to make calcium phosphate, ”says Kristopher Edin, the ghost farmer. “There is a list of things you can do with brown sugar and things that grow on the property.”
The theory is that the plant material itself contains all the growth hormones, enzymes and nutrients that plants want at any given time. It is an inexpensive and bio-regionally specific product, which allows you to take items from really healthy plants in your area and get crops that are strong and healthy. When done according to the rules of the art, it takes three years to transport the soil to a place where it is no longer necessary to call on external inputs.
"We are still trying to figure out how to keep it on the scale, our soil is constantly changing," says Edin. "We're still going to have to do traditional organic amendments because of our size, but I think it's really great to start experimenting and getting involved, what Phantom is really about, and we're realistic too."
Although it is an organic farm, no one can claim that its cannabis is organic because it is not recognized as an agricultural crop, but rather because Phantom Farms is certified Clean Green, which is the benchmark in the cannabis industry. Clean Green is a private organization that requires on-site inspections and laboratory tests by third parties. Just like the USDA's National Organic Program for traditional agricultural products, the entire life cycle of the plant is taken into account, from the selection of seeds to harvesting, processing, soil, nutrients , use of pesticides, mold treatment and dust control. Clean Green companies must also put in place a plan to reduce their carbon footprint, measures to conserve water and fair working practices.
Most producers still use synthetic fertilizers, which reduce soil nutrition and cause runoff into surrounding ecosystems. While this may seem like an easier and less expensive option, Schultz believes it is a long-term mistake.
“It's very easy to buy worm casts and make your own infusions, but people don't do that. They prefer to buy a 20 liter jerry can of saline fertilizer which is not organic. When we break it down, it's not really cheaper, but it's easier because we have nothing to do, we get rid of it. Much of this material is lost to runoff that whitens streams, ”said Schultz.
As legalization expands, producers no longer have to hide their crops in the mountains, and energy-hungry warehouses and consumers demand more natural and sustainable methods of cultivation.
“It's really easy to be organic if you put your heart into it, do a little research and talk to people. It's simple and much more respectful of the environment and the consumer. ”