Arthur Halleran’s northern British Columbia farm is documented to have been chemical free since 2010 with no indications of prior chemical use. The farm’s recent 200 acre plus expansion of the fields has never in its history had chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides applied to it. With the organic by nature status of the farm, including its history as a Certified Organic producer of jams, jellies, syrups and teas the pristine property was a logical choice for the establishment of Canada’s first high-CBD certified-organic hemp farm.
Weekend Unlimited (CSE: POT, FSE: 0OS1, OTCQB: WKULF) acquired Northern Lights Organics – a pioneer in BC’s Certified Organic wildcraft industry, receiving over a dozen organic certifications during its years of operation – in early 2018. Northern Lights Organic’s square-mile (618 acre) farm located near Fort St. James, British Columbia has been repurposed to produce and process organically grown CBD-focused hemp. The entire property is in the process of becoming certified organic by PACS, has no adjacent polluting industry, and is surrounded by Crown land and farms.
Northern Lights 6,300 ft2 all season growing greenhouses have recently been connected to the BC Hydro electrical grid with premium cannabis style lighting, rolling benches, dehumidification, heating and automatic irrigation system all dedicated to growing high CBD strains of hemp. Its water is sourced from a clean deep fresh water aquifer. A co-gen power and heat plant will be constructed to utilize logging waste and pine-beetle killed trees as well as the hemp biomass waste to generate heat and power with the goal of becoming carbon neutral. Cannabis growing operations consume vast amounts of energy. Two of the original organic principles in 2006 were “Rely on renewable resources” and “Protect the environment” so it is the goal of Northern Lights Organics to embody that spirit and have its operations (from planting to final product) be carbon neutral and generate heat and electricity from waste biomass.
The farm’s 10,000 ft2 hemp CBD extraction facility is slated for completion next year to allow onsite processing of the hemp biomass harvested on site. This extraction facility will be designed and built to satisfy certified organic regulations.
Growing of hemp on the Northern Lights Organic farm started in the summer of 2018 under a Hemp research license to fully understand growing conditions for hemp in the farm’s geographical location. Lessons learned have been applied to the 2019 outdoor test plots.
In 2018 Northern Lights obtained a limited number of high CBD Hemp seeds (in total 3,000 seeds) from a third-party genetics research company, for three different varieties. Those 3,000 seeds were planted in the nursery greenhouse January 10th, 2019 and 50,000 premium seeds were harvested in May 2019. The 2019 winter grow was conducted under Canadian Organic Regime regulations providing a template for scaling the growing of hemp seeds in the 6,000 ft2 greenhouse space, making Northern Lights Organics self-sufficient and sustainable in its own supply of these difficult to source high CBD hemp seeds. It is anticipated that the 6,300 ft2 of existing greenhouse space will produce over two million seeds, enough to plant the entire farm area with quality high CBD hemp.
Continuing the research in June 2019, Northern Lights Organics planted their own grown seeds in outdoor test plots consisting of two seedling plots and two direct seed planting plots to study the differences in biomass production and the soil growing conditions. All research based growing of hemp was done under the Canadian Organic Regime regulations to ensure consistency toward attaining Certified Organic designations. Data from the 2019 test plots will lay concrete plans for the 200 plus acre commercial grow in 2020.
No Small Feat
Whether you’re talking food, cannabis or Hemp CBD, Canadians are increasingly more engaged in looking for organic and environmentally friendly options as consumers. However, some of what is sold as being organic at markets, stores and online under the “organic” banner haven’t been certified organic, and may not be exactly as advertised. In some cases the fine print states certified organically grown, but the final product is not certified organic.
In order to be certified organic, producers must satisfy the extremely strict regulations of the Canadian Organic Regime, which governs everything from soil and nutrient sources right down to the hand soaps used by anyone coming in contact with equipment, containers or the final product themselves.
Halleran, the President of the Northern Lights Organics Farm, describes organic farming as a way of life, a return to the old ways, in order to create products that are clean and pure.
It takes an immense amount of work to prepare the soil for an organic crop. Modern farms using chemical derived fertilizers have the dead soil only as a substrate to hold the plant and feed the plant nutrients and kept free of pests using chemicals, many of which are harmful to humans. In organic farming, organic material must be build up in the soil using manure and compost to promote a living soil with a “biological community” and minerals such as phosphate must be added only from natural sources.
Soil must be constantly examined, and anything added to it must be approved. For example, manure must come from approved sources where the food the animals are given and the animal’s lifestyles are within the organic regulations for animals. All equipment used in the hemp farming must only be used for organic purposes or have detail cleaning records kept, and even the way the organic crops are stored or transported must meet strict organic regulations. The processing of organic crops must also be certified, as well as the maintenance and cleaning of anything that will come into contact with the plant material. The Northern Lights Organics farm will be using C02 extraction using equipment dedicated to the organically-produced end product.
Everything must be meticulously documented, so that the company can prove where it sourced its manure, for example, the time and method of application, what methods were used for pest control, etc. A Certification Officer will inspect the farm and facility each year to ensure compliance, but can make an unscheduled appearance at any time.
Halleran says the farm represents an important labour project for the northern region, and he wants to provide a wholesome environment to work in, where these old ways can be passed down to a new generation.
When asked about the benefits of all this hard work, Halleran summed it up nicely by saying, “This part of the country is so pristine, why would you want to do anything else?”.
Down the road, Northern Lights Organics plans to produce CBD oils derived from its organic crops to be sold as tinctures, and market small batches of premium organic dried flowers, as well as items like a line of CBD infused wild teas.
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