True Heart Farm

Regenerative agriculture and Korean natural farming applied to cannabis cultivation

In the midst of the discussion on the carbon footprint of the cannabis industry, there are growers that have been addressing this thorny issue right from the heart of their operation. One of these growers is True Heart Farm based in Washington. Craig Hartsough comes from a Regenerative Agriculture perspective, and he is trained in Korean Natural Farming. “I use as few inputs as possible, and the ones that I do use, I try to make myself.”

Regenerative agriculture and Korean Natural Farming
Craig and True Heart Farm grow their hemp indoors in raised beds. “We have gone through 4 cycles thus far,” he says. “Now we can see the mycelium growing through the Alder wood chip mulch on top of the soil. Every now and then, the fungi will fruit, and you’ll see these beautiful mushrooms growing beneath the plant canopy.”

The presence of fungi in the garden is not a bad sign; quite the opposite. “Regenerative Agriculture is about copying nature,” Craig explains. “If you look at a forest ecosystem, there are all kinds of bacteria, fungi, and plants growing in perfect harmony, all together. Following this principle and that of the Korean Natural Farming school, I make one of our inputs named IMO, which stands for Indigenous Microorganisms. We basically collect beneficial microbes from a healthy forest. When we identify, for instance, an area with healthy mycelium, we collect it and apply it to our farm. To collect these fungi, we put some rice in a box with holes in the bottom and put it out in the woods. If everything goes as it should, the mycelium proceeds to colonize the rice, and there’s our own fugally dominant microbial inoculant.”

The perfect blend
Craig also utilizes some commercially produced organic nutrients on top of the ones he makes himself. “`Some organic nutrients and supplements play really well with Regenerative Agriculture,” he explains. “One that I really like is AgTonik’s fulvic acid AGT-50. These micronutrients with fulvic acid blend together perfectly with other organic nutrients, making it a complete package. I use the AGT-50 as a foliar feed and mixed with my irrigation water. I typically use only 50% of the recommended dosage because microbes do most of my heavy lifting anyway. The fulvic acid is a major boost, but I don’t want plants to rely on that too much. Everything I do is to make micronutrients available to the plant so that the plant can reach its genetic potential, giving you that 10%-15% additional secondary metabolites.”

Craig is growing CBG-rich hemp, and he says that it grows just like the classic THC cultivars. “There’s no difference with the nutrient requirements of these genetics,” he points out. “Here in Western Washington, humidity is a major challenge, but the strain we grow, named Treasure Bay, an H5 cut, is rather fluffy, which might be not desirable, but in wet areas like this you don’t get botrytis as easily.”

Craig surely utilizes particularly complex and refined methodologies, but these allow him to grow craft-quality cannabis. “I’m really looking forward to the industry maturing and us craft growers finding our niche,” he says. “Customers need to be educated so that they can find the right flowers for them. Some may prefer that special strain with high THC, whereas others may prefer something different from THC – that’s where True Heart Farm comes into play.”

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True Heart Farm

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