For Part 5 of our Growing Weed in Washington series, PotGuide sat down with Micah Sherman of crow grass to learn more about growing weed in the capital of Washington, the benefits of growing in living soil, and craft cannabis versus craft brewing.
Founded in 2013 by David Stein, Micah Sherman and Nichole Graf, Raven Grass is a interior cannabis grower based just outside Olympia, the state capital. Raven Grass grows with a “Vera Terra” or “True Earth” philosophy, i.e. organic inputs and not chemical pesticides.
An interview with Raven Grass
[Paul Barach]: What does growing weed look like in Washington? Why did you choose Olympia?
[Micah Sherman]: Three of us launched Raven: myself, Nichole Graf and David Stein. David lived in Olympia for a long time, so when we came to Washington to start Raven with him, we came to Olympia. We have been in this space since 2013 because rules and regulations around where we could be located limited what was available.
We are actually in the legislative session here in Washingtonso it’s a busy time for me.
[PB]: How? ‘Or’ What?
[MS]:I’m on the board Washington Sunshine and Craft Producers Associationso we are following the active legislation and we have some bills we are working on. [This includes] create a “Craft Cannabis” mention [for small producers.] This would be similar to craft brewing where there would be direct-to-consumer sales at the farm gate, such as at a craft brewery or craft distillery.
[PB]: What are some of the benefits and challenges you’ve encountered growing weed in Washington?
[MS]: We have a pretty unique approach to indoor production… It’s pretty cool here all the time, so we just control our temperature by bringing in cool air from outside rather than using electricity to run air conditioners to cool a closed environment. It saves a lot of energy.
As for the challenges… we’re in a temperate rainforest, so we’re always struggling with very wet or very wet things. We have to do a lot of air drying.
[PB]: Are there strains of weed that grow well or are harder to grow in your part of Washington?
[MS]: We often…compromise because it seems inevitable that the best weed will come from some of the toughest plants (laughs). I think it’s a rule of nature. I would say the easiest to grow are Durban Poison and Jack Herer. Both of these are thriving plants that do well in all conditions.
[PB]: Do you have something special marijuana growing practices what do you use?
[MS]: We grow in living soil using 100-200 gallon fabric pots and our soil stays put from harvest to harvest.
We modify this soil with raw inputs like spent cannabis from our extraction processes, alfalfa, different meals, minerals and other relatively unprocessed elements.
We [also] do a week compost tea. Basically, we brew a large batch of a microbial solution with compost and other organic inputs. This makes a microbial solution that we water in all the pots in our building. Microbial life in the soil…breaks down raw amendments and makes inputs bioavailable to plants. We recreate the natural biology of the soil in our indoor growing operation.
[PB]: How does living soil improve your crops?
[MS]: A living soil produces a unique product. Instead of fertigationwhere liquid nutrients rise through the roots through the force of pressure when you water [which is how most cannabis plants get their nutrients], what we do is create a living microbiome in the soil. The plants in combination with the lliving microbiome only absorb what they need.
On the flavor side… we produce a different quality of plant. We don’t necessarily get very high cannabinoid tests, but we do get a fuller flavor… in terms of effects, it’s hard to say because it’s all subjective, but we often get emails from consumers asking what which is different in how we grow because it feels distinct. .
[PB]: What strains are you most excited to grow?
[MS]:I love Jack Herer. This is my #1 Go-To. The other that really excites me and is new to us is Panama Red. It’s a super trippy, almost psychedelic high. Great when you want to think about things in a new way, or maybe not at all (laughs).
I also really like our Type 2 strains (CBD:THC). We put about 50% of our canopy in these type 2 strains. They are very grounded, very functional. I get a lot of benefits from these strains. It is an underdeveloped part of the cannabis industry.
[PB]: What do you think sets Washington weed apart?
[MS]:For now, what sets Washington weed apart is that we have a regulatory environment that at least partly tries to support small production methods, which means more craft cannabis companies.
We also have lots of great places to grow outdoors. It will be really interesting to see how we start to grow local strains that are specifically suited for outdoor cultivation in Washington.
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