If you are the kind of person who shops organic at your local food store and farmers market, you probably want to know how your cannabis is grown as well. For example, organic cannabis cultivators utilize natural, pesticide-free growing practices, while conventional cannabis cultivators don’t.
Likewise, if you are someone who is concerned about climate change and the health of our planet, you probably want to know if your cannabis came from a grower who strives to minimize their carbon footprint. Organic growers use naturally occurring nutrients to feed their plants and typically take advantage of renewable energy to run their farms. Conventional cannabis operators, on the other hand, may utilize large amounts of non-renewable energy and chemical fertilizer, both of which contribute to climate change.
How is organic cannabis grown
Organic cannabis cultivation starts with sustainable land management practices, such as using forest and other natural byproducts in compost and mulch, water conservation, and controlling erosion in and around cultivation areas. Fertile organic soils are built up over time by adding organic matter, such as: compost, aged animal manures, cover crops, mulch, and peat moss. Soil mulching helps conserve water, reduce soil erosion, and reduce weed growth.
Synthetic fertilizers aren’t employed in organic cannabis cultivation. Instead, plants are nourished with plant and mineral-based liquid fertilizers. Pests are primarily managed with natural predators, such as: lacewing larvae, ladybugs, and predatory mites.
To minimize their carbon footprint, solar, wind or other natural sources usually supply on-farm power needs, including lighting and irrigation systems. Organic cultivators avoid single-use products for plant support. Instead, recycled plastic plant support stakes and trellises are reused year after year.
How are conventional cultivation practices different from organic?
Whether planting their crop indoors or outdoors, conventional cannabis growers rely on pesticides to keep their plants free of insects. They employ synthetic fertilizers to nourish their plants, which are energy-intensive to manufacture and result in large outputs of greenhouse gas emissions. Water conservation measures are rarely a part of conventional cannabis cultivation practices.
Conventional outdoor-grown cannabis is usually planted in rows under high-tunnel hoops. Growers need large amounts of single-use plastics for row cover, as well as for plant support. Indoor cannabis is often planted in rockwool, which is manufactured by spinning molten rock into fine fibers. Like plastic, if rockwool is thrown away, it usually goes to a landfill.
Cannabis plants require 12-18 hours of light per day, depending on the plant’s growing stage, a steady stream of moving air, and a comfortable temperature range. To support a successful indoor growing environment, cultivators need to run artificial grow lights, fans, and possibly dehumidifiers or air conditioners, all of which require large amounts of energy.
Can organic cannabis be certified?
Because cannabis isn’t legal on the federal level, it can’t be USDA certified organic by the US Department of Agriculture, but there are other certifications that are currently available. Cannabis cultivators can apply to be certified by the Cannabis Conservancy, which requires many of the same organic growing standards as the USDA, plus additional requirements for crop planning, monitoring, and reporting.
This is important to cannabis consumers because USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. Produce can be called organic if it’s certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest. Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. None of it is grown or handled using genetically modified organisms.
Fire Flower Farm is committed to organic cultivation practices.
At Fire Flower Farm, we are dedicated to cultivating full season, sun grown craft cannabis, free of chemicals and pesticides. We believe that organic cannabis cultivation needs to be sustainable, holistic and is preventative. As growers, we look at the whole picture, taking all factors on the farm into consideration: the land, plants, water, people, and our place within the community. We constantly strive to understand the ever-changing needs of the land and the plants under our care. We believe this makes for better products and a better world.