Cannabis/ Weed/ Marijuana Farms-Growth and Cultivation: Meet 6 Women Running/Managing Cannabis Farms
The two highest IQ scores in history belong to women. Women make 1.6 million of the veterans in the U.S, hold 49.5% of the payroll jobs in the U.S, and own about 9 million firms. Women in Canada make 37% of all self-employed businesses and control $2.2 trillion in assets.
In the United States, women working for pay earn more than Japan’s entire GDP of $5.2 trillion. If all paid working women in the United States took a day off, it would cost the country almost $21 billion in terms of GDP. Canada’s economy would be a quarter trillion dollars smaller without women.
The Cannabis Industry
The cannabis industry in the United States, as of 2017, is worth about $6.6 billion. In Canada, the cannabis industry is worth $11 billion. Both figures are expected to grow significantly as legalization continues to happen.
Right now, the cannabis industry is male dominated, however; this won’t always be the case. Marijuana Business Daily reports that the number of women executives in cannabis is 27%, which is higher than the 23% average number of executive positions held by women across all industries nationally.
Women in Cannabis, Supporting Women in Cannabis
Tokeativity, is an organization founded by women and strengthened by women; founded in Portland by two women who believe in normalizing cannabis use and empowering women. Britt Gierke, who you will meet below (Willow Billy Farms), is an Ambassador for Tokeativity and provided this information:
“We are currently up to 10 chapters with 135 more on the way! Tokeativity’s mission is to nurture a safe space for women to connect, learn and create. We work to empower women at the root level and forward the normalization of cannabis. Tokeativity is a platform to meet other female entrepreneurs, business owners, and like-minded, stigma-breaking cannababes! Check out our events info — more to be posted soon http://tokeativity.com/events.”
Cannabis Growing and Cultivation
Cannabis growth and cultivation is broken down as such:
Cannabis Breeder: developer of the seeds that are planted to grow the cannabis plant.
Cannabis Grower/Cultivator: the hands and nurturer’s that grow cannabis from the seed to plant.
Cannabis Manufacturer: the brains behind turning the cannabis flower into various cannabis products such as concentrates and edibles.
There are other positions involved in the process of growing and cultivation- which you’ll learn more about below from Amanda, with LoudPack.
Meet 6 Farms, Managed/ Owned/ Protected by Women that Grow and Cultivate Cannabis
Though male dominated, women definitely have their hands in the soil and growing magic. Many reports say that we will see women in cannabis as employees and executives, however; I had the pleasure of meeting 6 Cannabis Growers/ Cultivators, 6 Women Cannabis Growers/ Cultivators. These women are on site, in the field, on the farm, and growing amazing plants!
Did you know that cannabis is male or female? Did you know that only the female plant grows large buds? Did you know that a female plant can grow with zero male plants around?
It is important for me to go behind the scenes, to the people that make it happen, to the farm where the magic is grown, to the hands in the soil, to the voices nurturing the plants, to these women in love with what they do, to the women that deserve recognition.
Meet Cowgirl Genetics & Executive Wellness Collective
United States: San Bernardino County, Riverside County, Southern California
Please tell me about your experience getting into growing or cultivation.
“My uncle started teaching us in 1997. We basically started out as helping harvest or trim the finished flowers. It was long hours but fun as it was something related to what my lifestyle is like, COUNTRY! I ride horses and growing cannabis was something of the “Outlaw Cowgirl” type of girl I was. As trust grew so did our workload, and it wasn’t long before indoor hydroponics became my life.
I started reading a lot of books! I studied indoor garden equipment, nutrients, water temperature, every little thing to me was important. I learned to design my grow rooms, build them, and what kind of demand my equipment was going to use. Water was another thing that I taught myself a lot, listening to plumbers and other growers my knowledge just grew, like my plants!”
What has been my proudest moment in growing or cultivation so far?
“I was 32, and I finally realized that growing cannabis was my life’s passion and where my heart really belonged. I met with patients who used my product to help heal themselves. The patients who could be helped to lead normal healthy lives really struck me and it was then that I pushed myself to be the best I could be at cultivating. I was proudest when I kept and documented over 44 different breeds!”
Do you think that women growers/cultivators have it difficult in the industry?
“I believe that in any industry women have the ability to prosper. However, sometimes it proves difficult to break into an industry that has been dominated by men for generations. I don’t believe that women have been looked at as potential cannabis gurus with the capabilities to care and understand large cultivation sites. I have never won a cannabis cup myself, but I have found the key to consistency through the study of each breed I encountered.”
What does a day on site look like for you?
“My typical day is a set routine that can sometimes be disrupted by an emergency. To say good morning to the plants that I call my girls is where I start my day. I feel the need to look at each individual and kind of read what their needing or wanting. If you look and listen, they do have a way of talking.
From there depending on my day, feeding, and maintaining proper health for maximum yield is key. I like to keep watch over every stage as well as product that is hanging to dry, being trimmed, being packaged, or even to the production room where the oils are extracted for concentrates. I do my very best to be the first to greet the girls and the last to say good night.”
Meet Humboldt Farm
United States: Humboldt County, California
How did you get into cannabis growing/ cultivation?
“I started in the cannabis industry as a street level dealer when I was 16 years old. I came to California when I was 18 to pursue my cannabis dream and ended up in Humboldt County where I still reside today! I was homeless for the first year and a half of my California journey, but I was willing to do anything to make it happen.
I trimmed for a very short time and then became a cannabis broker for many years before I accumulated enough money to start my own grow on a small plot of land. My only employee knew much more about cannabis cultivation than I did, but I was ready to learn. This is now my 6th year growing cannabis with many ups and downs in between. I’m on a much larger plot of land now with a great partner who has been cultivating for 20 years and am the co-owner of a licensed cannabis cultivation farm!”
Do you grow/ cultivate medicinal, recreational, or both?
What is your most popular strain, can you give insight into the strain, and where can your products be found?
“Although it isn’t exclusively our strain, we love the cut of Zkittlez that we have! I’m typically more of a fan of the gassier strains like OG, but I love the fruity flavors the Zkittlez brings out and it’s a well-known strain in California. It is a hybrid and the crosses are grapefruit X grape ape X a mystery strain.
Our farm has been in the wholesale game since we started, but our products will be in licensed California dispensaries summer 2019! Our first product drop will be at Proper Wellness Center in Eureka, CA.”
Are people shocked when they find out your occupation; what’s the general reaction?
“Absolutely. The general reaction is usually they’re surprised. It’s often hard for people to believe me and take me seriously as a young female in the industry. I may be young, but I got my foot in the door early when I saw the opportunity arising. Anyone who has known me for a while saw this coming from a mile away!”
How did you make your way into Cannabis growing/cultivation?
“I have been a Practical Nurse for many years working in Urgent Care and the community, this allowed me to observe the need for people to have legal access to their own medication. Many of my patients had to get their medicine from dispensaries that made it feel criminal. I have enjoyed cannabis recreationally and have an appreciation for the therapeutic effect of responsible recreation.
We wanted to give every Canadian the opportunity to grow their own four plants. The initial cost of setting up a tent that grows well and will not ruin or stink up your house can be overwhelming, so we lease kits out on a grow to grow subscription. We found that many, if not most, first time growers fail for a variety of reasons and we provide coaching throughout the grow.
To call me a grower or cultivator can be true as I grow my own at home, but I am more of a coach to my clients. Almost all our clients have renewed their subscription after their first grow, the therapeutic effect of growing and tending to their four plants is so much fun and I love to be a part of it.”
What strains do you grow?
“Our seeds come from donations and we offer them as a gift with our grow kits. Currently there are Agent Orange, Citrus Skunk, AK, Blueberry Gum, Bruce Banner and CBDiesel out in customer’s tents to name a few. We allow our customers to start with their own germination right through to dried flower and our inventory fluctuates. We try to accommodate most requests, we haven’t been using clones, I have enjoyed seeing all the variety of growth stages and cycles.”
You are a grower and a Chief Operating Officer in the cannabis industry, are people usually shocked by this?
“I am proud of my role in U-Bud, I tell everyone. I have been an advocate for cannabis for many years, so I don’t think it comes as a surprise for too many people that know me. As far as the title goes, I have found that this industry is so new that we are setting precedence NOW and there is no predetermined picture of what a COO or CEO or Master Grower etc. looks like.
We keep saying how much we love being in the future! I have found that most people are curious if they’re not already involved with cannabis in some way and I am so happy to educate and empower people.”
Is it safe to say that you switch hats multiple times throughout the day and also, what advice do you have for women trying to get into the cannabis industry?
“I do change hats multiple times throughout the day, maybe that is why my hair is such a mess all the time! I am a wife, mother, daughter, friend, nurse, teacher and COO. I still teach nursing skills part time and raise my three daughters while starting up a new company. Like most women, I can divide my attention and still get things done.
The evenings are no longer as relaxing as they are now filled with emails and catch up. I am having so much fun getting to know all the others in this industry, and I get to work with my best friend. I am finding that the added work doesn’t feel like work in the traditional sense as the contacts, customers, and partnerships are made with a real sense of community.
Advice, create a service or product that people need, believe in yourself, and while it can be so scary to take risks; you must be willing to face your success and/or failure. The cannabis industry is a welcoming place and we are building it together right now. The women, in particular, are supportive of each other, anyone wanting to get into the industry needs to come out to some of the many different events and meet some great people. We all have knowledge, experience, wisdom, and kindness to share.”
Meet WillowBilly Farms
United States: Cave Junction, Oregon
When did you start growing/ cultivating and what was the motivating force behind your decision to get into this line of work?
“Our journey has been a little bit of a tortuous one! My husband started our farm in 2016 and we’ve been growing and changing since. We started out as a recreational cannabis farm farming about 40,000 square feet and as of this year we are at 22 acres of farming (29 total). My husband and I both have spent our careers in the oil and gas sector. I have a degree in Petroleum Engineering and have spent the last 7 years working as a drilling engineer and drilling manager.
Farming is quite a different path! We both knew we wanted to create a life that we loved. Farming is so fulfilling. We are constantly learning, growing (pun intended), being humbled, succeeding, learning hard lessons, and pushing for better.
Since 2016 we’ve been managing the farm from afar. We both have had to keep jobs in oil and gas to keep the “wheels on the bus” — the recreational cannabis market has not been a profitable one thus far. But in February of this last year, I was laid off from my job in Denver and we decided to jump in headfirst. I moved back to our farm and it’s been so amazing being able to be so hands on. I feel so blessed to wake up on the farm every morning. We are so excited for this year!”
What would you say are the easiest and hardest parts of being a woman growing/cultivating in a male dominated profession and what can you tell me about the strains that you grow?
“I grow high THC cannabis and high CBD cannabis (classified as hemp). I came from a VERY male dominated industry so I may be less sensitive to this one. I don’t really think this is “hard” but the most apparent thing that I see is the lack of immediate respect women cultivators are shown. It was the same way in oil and gas — I felt like I had to prove that I was worthy of respect, being listened to, etc.
I’ve been to some trade shows and standing at a booth waiting to talk to someone and a man will walk up and they’ll talk to him first; things like that. Overall, it’s more positive than negative — women are making waves in the cannabis industry! There’s so much space for women entrepreneurs and a lot of women are supporting women — owned businesses!”
Do you believe that people have certain stigma’s/ opinions about women doing what you do?
“I think there’s just a general perception that a lot of women in cannabis are just there to wear bikinis and smoke weed. But I feel like that’s changing.”
What does a typical day look like for you on the farm?
“That’s a tough one! There’s really not a “typical” day! I go back and forth between our two properties, watering plants, installing irrigation, taking clones & cuttings, cleaning up plants, starting seeds, making sales, feeding chickens, watering ducks, transplanting plants and working on our retail products. Every day is different! The days are long but it’s so worth it!”
Meet LoudPack Farms
United States: Greenfield, California
You have a unique title; can you share the stage of growth/ cultivation that you are involved in?
“As a Track & Trace Data Entry Specialist for LoudPack, I am responsible for managing our inventory data and tracking the movement of every single seedling and clone within our facility as it grows to maturity.”
When did you realize that cannabis was the industry that you wanted to work in?
“When I realized how much cannabis helps so many different types of people (including my own family members and close friends), it became a true passion that continues to grow like the plants we care for. I’ve been in various canna-positions starting in 2010 from Garden Assistant, Budtender, Trimmer/Harvester, Content Manager, Customer Care Manager and now Track & Trace Data Entry Specialist. I’m so thankful for all the experience I’ve had and will continue my career with a mindset of lifelong education!”
How do people react when they learn about the type of work that you do, and do you think a man would get the same reaction?
“As a California native, about 99% of my acquaintances that learn about my cannabis profession are excited to hear more. As an educated, mixed-race woman, I have a huge amount of satisfaction in bringing diversity to LoudPack’s workforce.
I would hope that any man gets the same enthusiastic reactions I get! I believe it has nothing to do with being a man or woman, but more so because our industry is a hot topic on its own. I’d like to think that cannabis will help professionals to step away from gender separation and to step into general inclusivity. We’re all in this together!”
What were the biggest lessons you learned as you started your career in cannabis?
“My biggest lesson working in this industry is to stay humble and open to continuous education. Be excited about what you do so that others can see it. Stay informed, ask questions, and be willing to go outside of your comfort zone. You will never learn everything there is to know, be ready to learn something new!”
Meet Elytra Farms
United States: Humboldt County, CA
What motivated you to start growing cannabis?
“By the time I graduated college, I was burnt out on the rat race. I needed something to fulfill me deeper. I wanted a lifestyle that allowed me to be in the sunshine, in tune with nature, and surrounded daily with the people I love (my coworkers happen to be my husband and our close friend). I wanted a career that I could hang my hat on. I want every day to look back after a long day of work and see the fruit of my labor. Happy green plants, with their leaves up praising the sun give me deep profound joy. I gravitated towards cannabis in particular because it’s such a profound plant! Cannabis has helped me heal in times of grief and distress and love tending to my girls knowing they will help other people as well, even if it’s just to unwind after a day.”
Cannabis growth and cultivation is male dominated at the moment; how do people respond when they learn that you are a cannabis grower/cultivator?
“It surprises people. Running a farm is more than watering plants, it requires a strong constitution and flexible, problem solving mind and shear strength. Elytra farms wouldn’t be what it is without the strong men working here as well though. To me, it makes sense for woman to be a part of cannabis cultivation. I believe woman have an ancestral and intuitive connection to plants. Woman have been gathers 99% of human history which has led to us being deeply in tune with plants and the environment around us, even if there’s been a falling out in the last few centuries.”
What is your favorite thing about growing cannabis?
“The lifestyle it’s blessed me with. To be able to live where I work, beside my husband and now with our 3-month-old daughter by our side as well. It excites me that she is able to watch me work, and one day help on the farm as well. It’s a family affair here at elytra and I’m so thankful Cannabis has given us that opportunity. Also knowing that we’re making organic, sun grown medicine for others fills my heart with joy.”
Tell me about your favorite strain that you grow and why it’s your favorite.
“Right now, I love watching Girl Scout cookies flower. Looking out on a sea of purple makes me smile every time!”