Episode 7: Harvested by Hand, Crafted by Culture with CULTA

Episode 7: Harvested by Hand, Crafted by Culture with CULTA

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Jay Bouton is the Senior Director of Cultivation at Culta, Maryland’s vertically-integrated craft cannabis brand. Today, Jay joins the show to share his role at Culta, the inspiration behind the name, and their work at Culta. Jay expounds on the Cravo system, the maturation time of crops, and why he considers Workplace of the Year to be the highest honor achievable.


*Medical cannabis is for certified/qualifying patients only. You must be at least 18 years old to view content.

00:31 – Michael introduces today’s guest, Jay Bouton, who shares the inspiration behind the name Culta, what it means to say that Maryland is a ‘limited license state,’ and the concept behind vertical integration  

06:57 – Jay paints a picture of the history behind the building infrastructure that Culta currently uses 

10:18 – An indoor, outdoor and greenhouse grower 

14:03 – The Cravo system explained 

20:04 – Jay speaks to the Indoor growing they are doing at Culta 

22:01 – Flowering rooms and average maturation time 

31:04 – Grower of the Year, Product of the Year, & Workplace of the Year 

36:33 – A collaboration with Dartmouth 

37:57 – Genetics and Pheno-hunting, explained 

42:36 – Traits Jay looks for in a cultivar 

52:28 – Selecting an equipment vendor 

55:54 – Partnering with Pip Horticulture 

58:51 – What the future holds for Culta 

1:03:51 – Michael thanks Jay for joining the show and sharing his story 

1:04:45 – Advice Jay would give to those looking to enter the cannabis industry 

“We’re the second largest employer in town now. And, as we keep on growing, I know we’ll become number one. There’s more opportunity that Culta can offer a lot of the people from Cambridge than The Hyatt or these other companies. There’s much more room for growth. You’re being educated everyday at work. We’re growing the people just as much as we’re growing the plants.” (09:51)  

“With outdoor, we’ve gone through two hurricanes. We’ve gone through a drought. We’ve gone through five straight days of rain. So, we have an idea of where everything’s gonna go, but you honestly have to see how that season treats you before you can really decide if this is an extraction year or a flower year.” (16:53)  

“It’s kind of humbling to know that, no matter how good or big we think we are, in the grand scheme we’re a smaller, middle ground company. But that also allows us to really focus on what matters.” (31:48)  

“What we’re most proud about is The Workplace of the Year in the cannabis industry. Being Grower of the Year is awesome. Being Product of the Year is awesome. But being recognized as the employer where employees would much rather be, that makes us prouder than anything.” (33:15) 

“We won’t put anything out there that we wouldn’t smoke ourselves.” (1:03:22)  

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Mobile Vertical Grow Racks

6 Pros and Cons of Vertical Farming

6 Pros and Cons of Vertical Farming

The Ultimate Vertical Grow System - Pipp Horticulture

Creating a Future with Vertical Farming

The world is changing every day faster than ever before. We must think creatively to stay ahead and on top of the rising changes. Businesses must rapidly adopt efficient and future-proofed strategies to achieve their goals. According to the World Health Organization, about 147 million people, 2.5% of the world population, consume cannabis. With this rising demand, converting to Vertical Farming is even more critical. Converting to a vertical farm can provide a higher production capacity (or output), a smaller overall footprint, and a more efficient workflow.

Every decision has pros and cons, and creating that list is “a simple and effective way to reduce uncertainty when there is more than one viable way to proceed.” Below we have put together six pros and cons of Vertical Farming to help ease the decision-making!

Pros of Vertical Farming:

1. Maximize the Grow Space

Space is well-spent in any facility when it comes to going vertical. Instead of relying on single-tier grow tables, cultivators can now take advantage of the tall ceiling heights of commercial warehouses and add multiple growing spaces to significantly increase their production capacity and utilize more of their facility to generate revenue. Pipp Horticulture’s Vertical Grow Racks allow growers to maximize their space and are vital to any successful operation. Combined with Pipp’s Mobile Carriages, grow facilities don’t waste an inch of space, allowing for easy movement of vertical racks to create high-density grow rooms. These products can be used through multiple stages in the plant life cycle to increase operational efficiency.


2. Increased Genetic Offerings

Typically, when a grow facility has converted to Vertical Farming, you can grow more plants with a larger canopy footprint than you did before! Increasing your ability to store and grow multiple strains of cannabis that you haven’t been able to with single-level grow tables. Vertical Farming designs allow you to house a wider variety of genetics to rotate into your production schedule and grow more strains per harvest without sacrificing yields or needing a bigger building. A larger production footprint and a more extensive genetic library allow growers to offer a greater variety of products to meet the demands of this constantly evolving market.
Vertical farming may seem like more work with the increase in space, but having a more controlled environment means more consistency and a lower failure rate. Pipp Horticulture and its divisions, GGS Structures, Vertical Air Solutions, and Greenhaus Industries, offer all the products necessary to create the ultimate vertical grow system! From Vertical Grow Racks and Mobile Carriages to trays, carts, and other essential accessories.
Elevate Platform System

3. Location, Location, Location.

When considering vertical farming, you don’t always have to assume you have to start your operation in a remote location at a large facility to maximize your growing space. With vertical farming, consider finding a place closer to dense urban areas or your distribution center to reduce your footprint. It’s the same thought as eating local organic, sourced fruits and vegetables. Reducing your “food mile” to reduce your carbon footprint to help improve the environment. Imagine your growing facility across the street from where you distribute your product. Converting and utilizing indoor vertical farming can maximize your square footage and cubic footage within any grow facility.

Cons on Vertical Farming:

Mobile Carriages for Vertical Grow Racks - Pipp Horticulture

1. High Cost at the Beginning

When it comes to cost, it’s always risky to spend all that money upfront, unsure of the future outcome. Converting to Vertical Farming is costly, and investing in quality grow equipment, advanced climate control systems, vertical grow racks, etc., can add up quickly. However, this higher upfront cost compared to single-level growing sets you up for success with a lower production cost for your facility’s life.

Although all new additions can get expensive, working with Pipp Horticulture will help ease the stress and worries of converting. The Pipp team has over 50 years of experience and has quickly become the industry-leading provider of Mobile Vertical Growing Solutions with installations in over 2,000 grow rooms worldwide. Our Mobile Vertical Grow Racks allow cultivators to maximize their production capability, reduce operating costs, and increase their overall revenue per square foot by as much as three times! We even have a team of in-house professional engineers, CAD designers, sales support, and experienced cannabis operators to help provide support before and after equipment installation to ensure operational success. 


2. Adjusting to Change

Converting to Vertical Farming will bring changes in different areas, including other climate conditions on each tier, utilizing various new equipment, for example, new grow lights and HVAC systems. Adjusting to change also might result in needing to grow your team and knowing each member of the current team understands the latest updates and procedures. But if there is one thing a successful grower is accustomed to, it is change. Similarly to changing from HPS to LED, going from single to multi-tier cultivation requires a change in mindset and SOP’s. The result is a more sustainable and efficient operation with increased production capacity.

Pipp Horticulture is here to help you at the beginning of these changes!Pipp’s in-house professional engineers, designers, sales support, and experienced cannabis operators help you with each process step. We provide professional installation across North America, and all products are proudly made in the USA!

3. Regulatory Challenges

With any new industry, regulatory hurdles always exist to overcome as these rules become established and understood by all parties involved. Each state has specific cannabis industry regulations to comply with, such as production capacity limits or building codes. These regulations will be different, for example, if you’re trying to operate in Michigan vs. California. Understanding these regulations can be difficult while trying to convert to vertical farming with new operations and equipment to learn. 

Pipp Horticulture’s team can help during the converting process; we understand the nuances and can share our experiences from the hundreds of new builds we have been a part of. Listen to our interview with Brent Barnes, VP of Cultivation & Genetics at Claybourne Co. located in Paris, California; explain how the Pipp team helped create a custom design for their specific fire protection services. 

Pipp Horticulture

In Conclusion

As we just covered, Vertical Farming can bring high costs, new process changes, and new regulations to follow within your state of operation. These specific downfalls can be overwhelming initially, but in the end, they significantly improve your thinking processes toward the future. Every challenge brings new efficiencies you would have only discovered by taking that first step. Vertical farming is the way of the future, providing a more controlled environment to increase the quality and amount of plants, with the ability to grow multiple crops simultaneously and all year round.

Ready to convert to Vertical Farming? Check out this blog to learn five things you must know before converting to vertical farming.

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Episode 6: Blue Collar Craft Cannabis with Freedom Green Farms

Episode 6: Blue Collar Craft Cannabis with Freedom Green Farms

Episode 6 Podcast


Drew Nowak is an Alumni of Western Michigan University with a degree in Engineering Management Technology. He is also a former NFL offensive/defensive lineman for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks, and Kansas City Chiefs. He is currently the Founder/CEO of an Adult Use cannabis grow facility in Northern Michigan, Freedom Green Farms LLC. Today, Drew joins the show to discuss process flow, design and the importance of attention to detail. Drew expounds on the origins of the name ‘Freedom Green,’ the value he places on efficiency and sustainability, and how Drew has cultivated an incredibly trusting culture within his organization.

00:00 – Michael introduces today’s guest, CEO and Founder at Freedom Green, Drew Nowak, who shares his background as an NFL player and the work he’s currently doing in the cannabis industry 

02:03 – Process flow, design, and engineering 

03:50 – Biggest challenges in starting Freedom Green 

04:49 – The origin story of the name ‘Freedom Green’ 

06:12 – Growing more with Pipp Horticulture 

09:25 – Drew’s leadership style and what differentiates Freedom Green from other cannabis companies 

10:59 – Attention to detail 

12:30 – Investing in efficient systems and designs 

15:46 – Drew’s expectations for sanitation 

17:17 – The incredible variety that Freedom Green offers 

19:26 – Advice Drew would give to those looking to enter the cannabis industry 

20:29 – What the future holds for Freedom Green 

21:11 – Michael thanks Drew for joining the show and lets listeners know where they can learn more about Freedom Green 

“Process flow is really important for us. We just didn’t want to be restricted for any reason, whether it was pallets of dirt, soil, whatever, individuals, movement, transplanting, anything like that. So it was really valuable for us to make sure that this room was wide.” (02:12)

“We really wanted to be proud Americans with the name. But also, the ‘Green’ aspect is important. Our motto is, ‘Sustainably made, simply clean.’ We try to make everything as efficient and wasteless as possible.” (05:27)

“What I feel is very valuable is how we empower our employees. We give them responsibility. We give them the ability to work. We’re not breathing down their backs. And, by doing that, we’ve created comfortability in the workplace and confidence in their abilities and what they do. We trust them tremendously to do the right thing.” (09:54)

“I want people to be able to eat food off the floor in here. That’s our expectation on sanitation. I joked earlier that we clean ninety percent of the time and work on plants ten percent. There’s no excuse for our environment.” (16:01)

“We want to grow for the people. It doesn’t matter what I like. It doesn’t matter what you like. It matters what the people want. So our goal is, tell us what you want and we’ll grow it.” (17:59)

“Right now, we still need to figure out and be the best that we are in the space. It’s hyper-competitive in Michigan but we’re gonna stay in our lane. I’d rather pick one thing and be the best at one thing than do ten things and be average.” (20:38)

Freedom Green – https://freedomgreenfarms.com/ 

Freedom Green Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/freedom_green_farms/

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