Quincy Green, a family-owned, sungrown cannabis farm in Washington’s Columbia River basin, sees 300 days of sunshine per year. Surrounded by the Gorge Amphitheater, apple orchards and golden wheat fields, the flower grown here is hand-tended and harvested, line-dried and slow-cured in small batches.
“My grandfather moved here in 1907, went to the University of Washington Law School, and then started homesteading this area,” explained co-founder Mark Olson. “He bought the 70-acre farm in 1921, which means it’s been in my family for almost 100 years. Most of the farm is still commercially farmed, growing wheat and corn, but 3 acres are strictly devoted to cannabis with another 7 acres set aside for future expansion.”
Mark started growing cannabis in 2014 with his wife Leslie. Having worked side-by-side to grow their law practice in Seattle, they decided to build on their vision to grow what they hope is some of the best cannabis in Washington.
“Our whole focus has been no carbon footprint,” said Mark. “The Quincy Basin has some of the best soil in the country, and some of the best marijuana in the U.S. grows right here. Our long summers stretch out until the end of October, and we can begin planting as early as May. We even have some plants that come up as volunteers in March.”
Leslie and Mark work closely with their partner, Steffen Knightlinger, grower and cultivator. Knightlinger immersed himself in cultivating cannabis 14 years ago, and his passion for the farm, cannabis in general and the entire growing process, is infectious.
There are two types of cannabis grown here. Their full-term, outdoor crop is 100% sungrown and sold under the label Quincy Green. There’s also a greenhouse, with an “indoor” sungrown crop, sold under the label Quincy Reserve; the two labels can be found in about 14 stores throughout the state.
Sungrown advocates say this method is truly the best way to grow, since the sun provides more lumens than electric lights, and it is notably better for the environment.
“Quincy Green always tests in the 20s for THC, the terpenes are all present, and it is all hand-picked, hand-dried, and hand-trimmed,” Leslie Olson said. “We grow 20-24 strains, with classics like Bubba Kush and Northern Lights, but we are one of only two farms that have Tinkerbell’s Revenge, a sativa-dominant hybrid.”
Knightlinger said plants typically go in the ground around May 15, using compost and native dirt. Water and fertilizer, if needed, is delivered through a drip-irrigation system.
“At the beginning of the year we till compost into the field, only using fertilizers if the compost starts to weaken. Our fertilizer is applied through irrigation, using earthworm casting teas, which help to sweeten the weed and boost terpene production.”
In Quincy, frequent 100-degree days during the summer make watering a challenge. Knightlinger has perfected a system that starts at 4 a.m. and ends at 9 a.m. There are eight zones, and each zone gets about an hour of watering, utilizing approximately four gallons per plant a day.
In the middle of the outdoor grow is a greenhouse where hothouse flowers are hand-tended in a controlled smart-house environment.
“The flower is slow-cured in our humidity-controlled processing building, slowly extracting all the chlorophyll, deepening its flavor, and refining its aroma during the cure,” Mark said.
Quincy Green has blackout curtains that line the interior of the greenhouse that close at 7 p.m. and open at 7 a.m. Computerized monitoring provides real-time temperature, light and humidity levels.
“We try to get three rotations per season, and I can operate everything from my office in Seattle,” he said.
Harvest to sale
The real magic occurs during curing in the 3,200 square foot climate-controlled building.
“Some outdoor grows use hoop houses or flash dry, but we bring our crop in and hang it on these nets,” Mark said. “The humidity in here is about 20%, when we get the green in here it spikes to 80%. The perfect drying humidity is about 55%. So, we cycle air through until we can get it back down, doing that consistently throughout the drying process for the perfect dry.”
The plants are taken down and cured in bins for eight or nine days.
All buds are trimmed by hand and the refuse is used for composting.
“The difference between a hand trim and a machine trim is not just the look,” Leslie said. “If you put the buds into a machine, the little trichomes shake off, and machine trims can’t look for mold. If you hand-trim you may not have the efficiency, but you really preserve the quality.”
Both Quincy Green, Quincy Reserve and Quincy Gold provide a range of products, including flower, pre-rolls, dabs, and distillate. Pre-rolls are sold in glass tubes with cork stoppers. Flower is sold in glass jars with bamboo lids, and fully compostable labels are made from sugarcane and printed with vegetable inks. The infused joints, hand painted with distillate and dipped in kief, are works of art, and pre-ground nugs are sold at a lower price point.
“This is a personal passion,” Mark said. “My grandfather was a farmer and the farm has been in operation for three generations. Although I chose law as a profession, this place always tugged at me. We investigated apples and other things, but cannabis made the most sense. Every step we’ve taken has been considerate and cost-conscious for our customers, and the environment. All of us at Quincy Green are about hard work, having each other’s back, laughter, and integrity.”
Kate A. Miner has a degree in visual anthropology, and has worked in marketing and advertising for many years. She writes, takes photos and teaches yoga.
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