With the opening of the first Aussie weed farm earlier this year, and plenty of changes to the legal status of cannabis in certain US states, the way green is grown has radically changed in the last few years (namely, that there’s now an ever-growing legal market).
If you’re anything like this writer, then that idea may cause daydream fantasies of walking through a towering weed forest, picking buds off the branches and dropping them in a basket, like little red-eyed-riding hood on the way to grandma’s for some baked goods.
I caught up with an Aussie who just got back from working on a weed farm in America to find out just what goes on. We won’t use his real name, but let’s just call him Marty James. Here’s what he had to say:
Where were you working and what were you doing?
MJ: We were in California and they introduced a 99 plant-per-person limit that you could grow for personal use. So we were working on farms that were cultivating personal crops… on paper.
“You put in hard days, of course you’re working with these giant things so you have to be really careful”
What was the process and what were you involved in?
Most labourers come in to keep the bottoms of the plants open so your get airflow and to trellis them. The biggest thing with plants is you have to control their growth or the plants start fighting for sunlight. You want as many stems as possible or, you know, branches, but you don’t want ones that are never going to be weed—they’re not strong enough but they’re taking up energy—so you cut them off, trellis them, which is like plastic netting and you feed them through.
Were you growing a specific strain or multiple strains?
Usually you would do six plants of one strain and then one of those six is going to have a superior growth to the rest… And what you have there is just a seed with stronger genetics. So what they’ll do is they’ll spread out their strains and every harvest they’ll take out their best yielding plant, clone the genetics… and that’s what they’ll plant next year. So much of it for growers is genetics, basically.
What was it like working with bud plants?
Ah, it was pretty fun, certainly a cool plant when you look at the science of CBD more than THC but both of them. Amazing to see how naturally they thrive. They’re a smart plant. It was cool just to watch them grow, basically. If you do it right and have your soil ecosystems done correctly they can be enormous 20ft plants.
What was the attitude like on the farm?
Incredibly relaxed. It’s still farm work so it’s much the same as any organic farm. You put in hard days, of course you’re working with these giant things so you have to be really careful, but at the same time put in a lot of hours. Lots of reggae playing lots of music, a bit of rap and hip hop. Nobody really seemed too stressed; the farmers are obviously having a pretty comfortable life so they were pretty happy.
What was the culture like compared to Australia?
I think in America it was about ten years ahead of Australia in terms of outlook….They were ultimately moving past a hemp prohibition whereas we are very much fixated on the bud of the plant being this incredibly poisonous and damaging thing which is of course pretty much nonsense.… I think we will get there, America just started ten years before us.
So there you have it: not necessarily the fantasy I had in mind, but life on the farm sounds pretty groovy.
Hero image: Barbetorte