Len Wood calls the first cannabis harvest at the first outdoor cannabis farm in Kent County his field of dreams.
He and Marc LeBlanc have been working on the project for the last couple of years.
But getting to this point in 2020 hasn’t been easy
LeBlanc said COVID-19 threw a wrench in their plans, and prevented them from getting their licence from Health Canada until June.
That meant a later than normal planting, and that affected the yield for the first year.
LeBlanc, the president of Solargram Farms in Renauld Mills, near Saint-Antoine, said he comes from a business background. And Len Wood, the company’s vice president knows about the growing end of the business.
Len Wood said when the property was purchased last year, he didn’t know if the project would be feasible. Now there are 13,000 plants.
“We’re in the middle of fall harvest, which is our first year harvest, and we’re really excited, it’s exceeded expectations.” said Wood. “It’s quite something.”
Wood feels it makes sense to grow cannabis outdoors.
“You have to remember this is a wild plant. It’s grown wild outdoors for hundreds of years and in October of 2019 Health Canada allowed outdoor grow to become a reality in the Canadian marketplace.” he said.
Some of the plants are grown under half-open greenhouses, which provides low cost ventilation.
Others are grown outside in the elements.
Marc LeBlanc said the two processes will help determine how the plants perform under different circumstances, including how it affects factors like THC content.
There are currently 130 acres at the farm. LeBlanc said 50 acres are approved for use by Health Canada, even though only about a third of that space is being used right now.
LeBlanc said they are under strict security guidelines put in place by Health Canada.
“Just to give you an idea, we have over a kilometre of fencing here for our current ‘phase one’ site with over 50 cameras that are continually securing the entire facility.” he said.
“We actually have Bella, the German shepherd doing fence monitoring. It’s a serious deal getting these licences and the security component is one of the major deals that has to be met.” he said.
LeBlanc said there are very strict internal security procedures as well.
It cost about $7 million dollars to set up the facility.