Looking Forward To A Sustainable Future
By: Kimberly Cargile Photo: Kimberly Cargile
May 26, 2016, 10:00 am
Article Written by Kimberly Cargile
For 10 years I’ve driven to Humboldt every weekend, passing the Forever Flowering billboard on Highway 101 and thinking, that is a great idea—it could be the solution to the battle over the local government’s outdoor bans.
Indoor cultivation is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Growers are looking to provide the highest quality product at the lowest cost to their businesses, and to the environment. As California cultivators step into the new regulated market, sustainability is at the forefront of planning.
Jonathan Valdman, the founder and president of Forever Flowering Greenhouses and sales director for The Cannabis Conservancy, has dedicated his life to moving the permaculture and sustainability of the cannabis industry forward. It was a pleasure to finally meet the man behind the billboard, and have an in-depth conversation about how his ideas for Greening Corporate Cannabis and TCC will manifest his lifelong passion into an industry standard.
As a fellow “lifer” in this ever evolving industry, I share his joy—and his pain. For the first time in my own journey, I am teaming up with investors to bring to fruition a regulated large-scale greenhouse cultivation site. Gone are the days of makeshift-greenhouses built on the side of a south facing slope hidden deep in the hills. The future is left to those building sustainable business practices, and relationships with the Department of Agriculture. At the top of the list of companies to interview for my business venture, was Forever Flowering Greenhouses.
The company was founded in 2006 with a vision in line with most growers: to provide a sustainable future for both farmers and the environment. With a triple P bottom line (People, Planet, Profit), the majority of growers I know are looking toward the future with high hopes. Pun intended, but just because cannabis is green does not mean that it is always grown with sustainability in mind.
That is why Jonathan is taking his vision a step further with The Cannabis Conservancy, a sustainability and best practices certification for the cannabis industry. “We look at a number of things when determining a certification. We look at cultivation methods, energy use and efficiency, water use, your waste stream and your standard operating procedures. We are looking at the whole picture of how your business is run and comparing it to a long list of standards that we have developed specifically for a “green” cultivation site specific to the cannabis market. In the long term this will provide a premium product provided at a premium price,” said Valdman.
By no means do you have to grow in a greenhouse to receive the “green” certification, however, it may be easier to achieve than with an indoor grow. Light deprivation, also known as black box greenhouses, are the wave of the future for cannabis cultivation. As Valdman explained, “light deprivation is the ability to control the amount of hours of light, or photoperiod, that your plant is receiving. [This is] typically done indoors under grow lights by turning the lights on and off. Though, in a greenhouse it is done by blocking the sunlight out of the structure with blackout fabrics. This gives the grower the ability to control the flowering cycle of a plant when dealing with natural lighting.” Light deprivation gives the cultivator the best of both the indoor and outdoor worlds. With the ability to use the sun to produce four to six harvests a year in a controlled environment with a higher level of security and odor control than outdoor, light deprivation greenhouses are sure to be the key to a sustainable future.
The term “green” can mean a multitude of things depending upon who you ask. Everyone has their priorities and varying degrees of education around the subject. Cannabis is green. Green is sustainable. Green takes the environment into account. Green is now in consumer demand. As our industry moves into the future, we must stop and think, what does green really mean?
“With the sheer volume of cannabis cultivation in our state, every decision that we make is going to have a large impact. The cannabis industry has the ability to be the global leader in sustainability and regeneration. My mission is to educate people so that moving forward it is taken into consideration. If we can do that we can effect serious change in the world, because business is the most powerful tool that we have to work with.” —Jonathan Valdman
A Sustainable Future