The California cannabis market is one of the oldest in the industry. Because of this, it is also one of, if not the, most competitive out there. At the same time, real estate prices, water shortages, and electricity pricing make California one of the most challenging places to run a cannabis business. Despite these challenges, there’s a grower that decided to use a unique cultivation method to grow the highest quality possible and break into the market in a significant way.
“420 Kingdom is a micro-business licensee in California,” says Jeffry Thorn with 420 Kingdom. “We have cultivation, distribution, and non-store front delivery service.” According to Jeffrey, 420 Kingdom delivery service is one of the biggest in California, which of course, got boosted during the lockdown period of the pandemic. “Our forte is cultivation,” he continues. “With a micro-business license, we could have done a number of things, but we always knew we wanted to be in cultivation. Then, we decided to add a delivery service from the beginning. No one was doing that in our area, and because of that and COVID restrictions, our delivery business took off immediately.”
Standing out in the market
420 Kingdom is a craft grower cultivating their cannabis in a 10,000 sq. ft. indoor facility. “This is the max you can have under a microbusiness license,” Jeffrey says. However, the fact that they are a microbusiness doesn’t imply that they wanted to keep everything simple and small. Actually, it was quite the opposite. “When I got involved in this industry, I didn’t know anything about cannabis,” he says. “I come from Bakersfield, a conservative town in California’s central valley, known for large commercial outdoor farms, and I actually voted against legalization when it was proposed. Truth be told, I was just being naïve.” As he got involved, he started digging more into the industry and understood the inherent value of cannabis. “Because of that, I wanted to be able to produce the best quality at a low cost. I wanted to do something that would differentiate ourselves in the marketplace.” That’s exactly when Jeffrey decided that it was going to be aeroponics.
“This was definitely the most challenging thing,” he says. “We had a certain amount of funds for this project, and we had to consider the benefits of aeroponics against the capital investment. In the end, it came down to so many added benefits for the operation as a whole. Aeroponics automation produces the best quality and highest potency yields with the lowest labor, this was a no-brainer.”
Aeroponics growing in California
So, Jeffrey set to select the aeroponic system that would fit his requirements of low production cost, high quality, as well as sustainability. “I looked at different aeroponic systems companies and eventually selected AEssenseGrows. They are, by a large margin, far ahead in the game. They were one of the first manufacturers betting on the superiority of aeroponic cultivation, and their experience shows up in the equipment.”
“Thanks to the AEssenseGrows system, we reduce our water consumption which is extremely important here in California’s central valley. On top of that, since roots are sprayed with water and nutrients directly, plants take up only what they need, reducing our water consumption, as I said, but also making the plants grow faster. We can basically get more yield because plants produce more and bigger flowers, and aeroponics makes it possible to squeeze in 1-2 more cycles more per year: 6 crops per year is expected.”
Sustainable cultivation and business
In a state such as California, setting up a cannabis business is quite financially intensive. Yet, thanks to the AEssenseGrows system, 420 Kingdom is able to save on different fronts. “Especially our labor cost,” he explains. “Since the AEssenseGrows system is highly automated, I save a lot on manpower: to give an example, a traditional grow produces one gram for 1.25 dollars; with aeroponics, we do it for a quarter of that due to higher yields and 1/3rd the labor.” The savings comes from less bucket and soil work. “We don’t transplant any plants, we don’t buy any soil,” he continues. “We have a closed system, we have no waste, and recycle most of our materials and biomass. All of that helps the bottom line.”
This is the success recipe of 420 Kingdom. “In California, there’s really no one that grows in aeroponics. We are moving this forward and are showing the other growers here that such a sophisticated system not only provides low cost it also delivers potency and cannabinoid bundles in the 40%-50% range. This is unreachable with soil but is doable, profitable, and our customers appreciate aeroponics' quality. Of course, setting up a pharma style grow operation is not for everyone as it can be intensive with regards to precision, controls, and cleaning regimes; but that said, there are another couple of growers here in CA that are setting up aeroponic farms, and I’m genuinely happy for that: it adds credibility, not competition.”