Though we live in a culture where “bigger and faster” is often equated with “better,” it isn’t always the case, at least where cannabis is concerned.
Just ask Rick Roening, one of the owners of Green Bluff Greenhouse, a Tier 1 indoor grower in Green Bluff. It’s a family business: Rick and Claire Roening work closely with son and daughter-in-law Joel and Jamie Crisp. The family also owns and farms nearby cherry and peach orchards. A daughter and son-in-law operate Twilight Cider Works, which creates cider from Green Bluff-grown apples.
Cannabis seems like a natural extension of their growing efforts, especially when the family approaches all of their crops with a “simple and basic” philosophy.
“Agriculture is agriculture, whatever you’re growing,” Roening said.
The small size, under 2,000 square feet, keeps overhead low and allows the family to put more effort into plant growth and hands-on cultivation methods. It also lets the business set higher prices and be choosy about which retailers they work with.
“We want to be known as a boutique grower,” he said.
While it may take years for fruit trees to start producing at commercial levels, a full crop of indoor cannabis can be harvested in less than a year. Some growers utilize artificial short-cuts like chemical boosts to accelerate this process, but this may diminish overall taste and quality.
Not here, however. No sprays or chemicals are used, and one natural bio-control method consists of a certain type of predatory mite that feeds exclusively on the mite species known to be especially destructive to cannabis plants.
It may take six months to a year for one of their plants to go from seed to harvest to drying, curing and packaging, but Roening said it makes a difference in what the customer experiences – a natural flavor without any chemical or fertilizer tastes.
When the company was being put together, Joel Crisp worked to find the best land-race strains, which generally are considered the older, heirloom varieties of cannabis like Acapulco Gold, Panama Red or Colombian Gold. These classic strains may evoke a touch of nostalgia for those who partook of pot way back when, or can be a new experience for more recent users more familiar with current flavors and aromas.
One of the company’s top selling strains is Thai Stick, and they recently planted their first indica, Red Congolese, which is a blend of Black Congolese and Angola Red. The family also has begun putting a seed bank together for possible future offerings.
“Old school is our deal,” Crisp said. “We really want to bring back the old buds.”
Another popular strain is Solace, a strong hybrid.
“It gets you high but doesn’t get you stoned,” he said. “We don’t want to grow anything that makes you couch-locked, but want people to be energized and stimulate their creativity.”
Along with appealing to recreational users, they’re happy to offer quality products for those with medical needs.
“We were part of the first class in the state that received training in medical cannabis,” Roening said.
Green Bluff Greenhouse’s growing method includes LED lamps that save energy and provide an even distribution of light, which leads to larger buds. Ventilation devices help clean air of odors before it’s sent outside, and water is recycled.
Regular shoppers may already be familiar with Green Bluff Greenhouse, even if they haven’t tried the product. The company uses distinctively-shaped curved jars imported from Italy that are noticeable on shelves.
Green Bluff Greenhouse has already won a state award for best packaging from the Marijuana Business Association, along with an impressive “Top 502 Grower of the Year” honor from Toke Tank, an online cannabis community. Some customers say the jars have become something of a keepsake.
“The idea is similar to Crown Royal, where people love the bottle and don’t want to throw it away when it’s empty,” Crisp said.
Roening said the attention to detail and uniqueness in the jars also goes back to the original purpose of the venture.
“If you are going to be a boutique, you need to be consistent in your actions and philosophy,” he said.
Later this year, they’ll continue to fine-tune their process and may even add more areas for plants.
“We’re always working on improving,” Roening said.