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Tom Varga, co-founder and CEO of Green Farmers

"We are bringing together something truly special"

Everyone involved in the cannabis industry is super excited to be part of such a booming sector; sometimes, people might even be a bit too excited. This hype has sometimes pushed some people to make grandiose statements, even before they could actually act on it. That has caused companies and investors to keep pumping money into a 'cow stuck in a ditch', as there was very little to be rescued out of that mess. That is why it came as quite a surprise when, a few days ago, Australian grower Green Farmers announced the commencement of operation in their cultivation facility. “It is very easy for people to talk about what they are going to do,” Tom Varga, co-founder, and CEO of Green Farmers explains. “This is a serious industry. For us, it was far more important to have everything set up, so that’s why we have flown under the radar until now.”

From basil to cannabis 
Green Farmers indeed started some time ago by acquiring a more than 4,000 sq. mt. facility where basil used to be grown. “We have upgraded everything to be ready for cannabis,” he continues. “We have installed HPS lighting, DryGair dehumidifiers, Argus control system, and drip irrigation. Work has been completed, security has been completed, we even received the cultivation permit a few days ago, so I’d say we are good to go now.”

Basil was grown firstly as a test crop. “We have now removed that, and at the end of September, we are going to put the first cannabis in there.” Basil is not as complex to grow as cannabis is, in fact, Tom and Green Farmers had to tweak something of the facility. “Mainly, dehumidification and blackout screens are the biggest difference from basil growing. Also, supplemental lighting was something new that we had to install. At the end of the day, it was just hydroponics on tables, the only things missing were the specifically cannabis-related ones.”

Lighting and dehumidification
One of these things is indeed the lighting. “We designed the facility so that we can control the amount of light,” Tom says. “We certainly think that HPS gives us a better overall light considering the location where we are growing plants. On top of that, HPS gives us that additional heating that is beneficial during our winter months. We have around 6 months here where it’s very cold, and 2-3 months of quite some heat. So, we needed to address this, and that’s why we went for HPS coupled with DryGair dehumidification.”

The dehumidification system is also necessary to reduce the pest pressure. “The Glasshouse came well designed to reduce pathogen penetration,” Tom says. “We don’t use any sprays, but rather we employ a range of beneficial insects to help counter some pests, but the dehumidification and lighting are what is going to prevent molds and botrytis.”

Supply of locally-grown cannabis 
It is of the utmost importance to ensure that the cannabis grown in the glasshouse is of high quality. “We do have some very strict regulatory requirements,” he continues. “At the same time, we are blessed with a fantastic environment, and we can count on an agricultural tradition in Australia that is recognized worldwide. We have good regulations, and if you couple that with a skilled workforce, you can see that we are bringing together something truly special.”

Such a thing is critical not only for the competitive advantage on a global scenario, but also to ensure that patients can rely on a local supply of cannabis. “We have an Australian first philosophy,” Tom points out. “We want to partner with Australian companies that are importing right now, so that they can shift their focus to locally grown product to supply to patients. For that purpose, we have a further 21,000 sq. mt. of expansion opportunity on our existing site. We are already planning on what to do with that additional space.” This is because Green Farmers aim to bring their Australian-grown cannabis to the global stage. “The EU-GMP and the Australian GMP basically follow the same guidelines. We are well poised to take our medical cannabis to Europe.”

But Green Farmers is going to take one step at a time before setting foot in Europe. “Our primary focus is to expand our site, and then we are going to leverage that. Our company is blessed with great leadership, but also with great horticultural leadership: both of these means that the company leans itself to expansion opportunities, where we can also transplant our skills and capabilities.”

For more information:
Green Farmers
[email protected]