East Coast Sees First Certified Organic Regenerative Marijuana Operation (FEATURE)

Sun+Earth Certified, a third-party non-profit certification for regenerative organic cannabis, has just certified its first farm on the East Coast in the state of Vermont. Nestled among the mountains of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, Rebel Grown is a half-acre marijuana farm located within a 200-acre permaculture sanctuary in the town of Craftsbury. The farm and brand known today as Rebel Grown has been producing hemp in Vermont since 2018 and, in 2022, received a license to grow cannabis for adult use.

There is a better way to grow marijuana. Ask Rebel Farm. (rebelfarm.org)

Cannabis certified by Sun+Earth must be grown in the sun and grown on farms that strengthen habitats and build living soil. No chemical fertilizers or toxic pesticides are used to grow cannabis certified by Sun+Earth, whose standards go beyond the USDA organic regime. These rigorous standards encourage the planting of cannabis alongside food crops, as well as the strategic use of cover crops, composting and reduced tillage. Such practices help sequester carbon from the atmosphere, further reducing a farm’s carbon footprint.

Sun+Earth was founded in 2019 by cannabis industry leaders, experts, and advocates with a shared commitment to the pillars of regenerative organic agriculture, protecting farmers and farm workers, and community engagement. Currently, Sun+Earth has certified more than 60 cannabis farms and manufacturers in five states: California, Michigan, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

“There was a meeting in Mendocino in 2018, one of the first growing community meetings. These were small organic farmers from the Emerald Triangle who wanted to create a certification process to protect small, multi-generational farmers and people practicing regenerative agriculture”, Rebel. Dan Pomerantz of Grown told the Chronicle. “There was a group of young farmers trying to get into the program to get exposure, but I thought it should be just for old-timers, so I stayed away at that time. I didn’t want to grab someone else’s opportunity.”

But in May 2022, as he gained approval to grow adult-use marijuana in Vermont, Pomerantz decided the time was right. “It was a great opportunity to apply that on the East Coast, and now anytime you need someone to tell you about the Sun and Earth, I’m your guy,” he said. declared.

“Cannabis grown regeneratively, under the sun and in the ground, without toxic chemicals, is not only high quality, but also the best for the earth,” Pomerantz said. “We capture carbon through our plants and sequester it in the soil where it can be recycled back into our living soils. Rebel Grown has achieved Sun+Earth certification to bring high-quality, healthy, ethically grown cannabis to locals of Vermont, and to become a model for regenerative organic agriculture around the world.”

Some of Rebel Grown’s regenerative organic farming practices include cover cropping with ryegrass and clover, mulching with organic alfalfa, and using wood ash and manure from chickens, ducks, geese, steers, goats, sheep and horses. Rebel Grown generates its own compost and also inoculates its soil with many species of beneficial microbes, enzymes, fungi and bacteria to continually balance the microbiology of its living soil and plant root zones. Made from trees on the farm, Rebel Grown uses maple syrup as an ingredient in its compost teas.

Soleil+Terre is not just a rubber certification.

“It wasn’t difficult, but we had to connect all the dots,” Pomerantz said. “There are over 60 different things you have to do, such as having to take soil samples to show there are no pesticides and keeping an accurate log and register showing all inputs and spraying. Sun+ Terre really follows through; you have to show them how you run your farm. There’s a lot of detail,” he said.

“And beyond regenerative culture, part of it is how you treat people and where you stand in your community. We need to have conflict resolution protocols in place for staff. You need to take care of your employees as much as your plants. And we donate what we can to local charities,” he added.

“Sun+Earth’s expansion into Vermont and the East Coast, along with Rebel Grown’s certification, shows that quality sun-grown cannabis can be produced across the continent,” said Heather Dunbar of Sun+ Earth Certified. “Indeed, the cannabis industry knows how to reduce its significant carbon footprint and has the means to prioritize regenerative organic agriculture,” Dunbar continued. “Investing in cleaner, healthier, more ethical cannabis just makes sense.”

Rebel Grown, which has its roots in the Palo Verde appellation of southern Humboldt in the heart of the Emerald Triangle, is one of the only independent artisan brands now available on the East Coast. With expertise in breeding and genetics, Pomerantz of Rebel Grown has developed dozens of proprietary cannabis strains spanning a broad spectrum of cannabis diversity. His genetics have won dozens of awards since 2011, including the coveted Emerald Cup Breeders Cup award in 2023, 2022 and 2018.

Last year, Rebel Grown also won first place in the sun-grown category. Rather than keeping his skills and expertise to himself, Pomerantz has freely shared his knowledge for years through a variety of cultivation classes and educational workshops, as well as articles in professional media.

“I purchased 126 acres in 2012, where the previous owners had an organic farm and community. At the time, I was dealing with a criminal case and needed a place for my girlfriend to go and where I could go when I got out. I then acquired another 71 acres. acres above and 12 more down the road,” Pomerantz recounted. “We want to create over 60 acres of mostly forested land and our goal is to have a working farm that not only produces cannabis but a ton of food and animals and teaches farming techniques that were used in the past. The hope is that I can use the cannabis business to expand other aspects of the farm.”

Even though Rebel Farm has the largest type of outdoor growing license offered by the state, allowing cultivation of up to ½ acre or 2,500 plants, it is still a relatively small operation, with three employees at full-time employees, including Pomerantz, and seven part-time employees. . But it is capable of growing hundreds of books per year.

“In those first two years we couldn’t afford much and were probably producing between 600 and 700 pounds each year,” Pomerantz said, “but now all of our rows are raised mounds, our soil is well developed “We’ll till and add amendments and spread cover crops, and we can probably grow about 2,000 pounds.”

Each state has its own laws governing legal marijuana production, and they are not always aligned with the interests of growers. Pomerantz highlighted a number of legal obstacles to Rebel Grown’s success.

“We have a THC cap where we can sell over 30 percent flower and 60 percent concentrate. It’s completely absurd,” he said. “And we have weird marketing laws. Our advertising has to be approved by the Cannabis Control Board and we have to prove that less than 15 percent of our advertising will be seen by people under 21.”

High taxes don’t help either, Pomerantz said.

“Between the cannabis tax and the sales tax, people pay 21 percent in taxes,” he lamented. “Do you want to buy it in a store or from your neighbor? The stores do not meet expectations.”

The state also does not allow deliveries except for medical marijuana operations. Pomerantz said he would like to have direct-to-consumer sales, subscription programs and access to farmers’ markets, “but that is legislatively challenging.”

To hell with obstacles and obstacles! Rebel Grown will continue to grow and lead the way on the East Coast toward healthier, more environmentally friendly and more sustainable marijuana production practices.

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