While already having half a million square feet of footprint from their two original farms, Glass House Farms recently acquired a new greenhouse facility to increase their cannabis production further. Their new Southern California location will consist of six greenhouses, totaling 5.5 million square feet, which they are currently in the process of retrofitting. In order for their new greenhouses to not get too hot while under construction with no plants, the company is using a unique way to reduce heat. “We are using the Besseling Roofmaster to apply a whitewash coating that reduces the amount of light and heat that comes in,” explains Graham Farrar, President of Glass House Farms.
The Californian market
Farrar was one of the founders of Glass House Farms seven years ago. “An important aspect of our company is that we are 100% California focused. Not only is it the fifth largest economy in the world, but also the largest cannabis economy in the world. Our thesis is that winning in California will let us win across the country, and ultimately globally.” Today, they have two farms in production that totals half a million square feet of footprint, as well as four stores, and a 20,000 square feet manufacturing facility. “We have every single cannabis license that you can have in California, except a testing license which we aren’t allowed to have with the others. Last year, we went public on the NEO exchange in Canada, in order to raise money to buy our new Southern California greenhouse,” says Farrar.
The new location in Southern California
“In our opinion, this new greenhouse is the nicest cannabis facility out there, which is why we call it ‘The Unicorn’. With a total of 5.5 million square feet, it is the second largest greenhouse in the United States and we are adding a lot of Dutch horticultural expertise to improve production even further.” The first stage of the expansion will be 1.5 million square feet, and they are hoping to have the first plants in the first half of the year. Farrar explains that this expansion will give them the perfect recipe for high-quality cannabis. “We are already starting with the best climate in the world for growing cannabis. Then we add one of the best facilities in the world, as well as our decades of growing experience. Another major benefit is that we are producing in California, which has a reputation for producing high quality cannabis. You could compare it to cigars; you can get them from anywhere, but Cuban cigars command a premium because consumers prefer them. Likewise, consumers worldwide are aware of the quality of cannabis that is produced in California, and will pick it over other appellations.”
A challenging industry
“We sometimes joke that in the cannabis industry, every day is a Monday and every week is a year. It’s a tough industry and one that we are building as we go. That being said, we are making a lot of progress. We are one of the top brands in the state, so consumers are definitely responding well to us,” Farrar mentions. Their new expansion is set to improve their potential even more. “We have had to deal with pretty tough prices this last year in California. There has been too much product for the demand, with not nearly enough retail options, and high taxes. This has been creating a lot of strain for operators. So far, we have been weathering the storm pretty well. And with our new greenhouse, we are hoping to show consumers a whole new level of quality with better value than they have seen before.”
Farrar explains that taking an environmentally forward approach has been on the forefront of the company throughout everything. “It would be hypocritical to cultivate the plant without giving back to the planet, as the industry would be nowhere without nature. That is partly why we choose to grow in this climate with so much sunlight, it allows us to grow in a way that is much more sustainable. When we get the free sun and good temperatures, we then use the greenhouse to supplement what Mother Nature has given us. Not only do we recycle and re-use our water, we also have on site CoGen Energy Systems. We use these to make our own power from natural gas, we keep the heat to warm up the greenhouse, and use the CO2 to supplement the plants. This creates a system where we basically don’t throw anything away.”
Before they started working, Glass House Farms was already using the Besseling Roofmasters to clean their greenhouse roofs. “There is a pretty linear curve when it comes to cultivation: 1% more light is 1% more yield. Let’s say that over time the dust on the roof prevents 5% light from coming in. If we can get that dust off, that is an easy way to create 5% more light and thus 5% more yield. Therefore, we use it every other week to clean the facilities.” Because of their expansion, the company found another use for the robot. “We have got a lot of construction going on in our new greenhouse. With the California sun and not plants in the greenhouse, it gets really hot in there. Therefore, we are using the Roofmaster to apply a whitewash coating to lower the light and stop the heat. As soon as we are done with the construction, we will wash it off and make the glass as clear as possible. Once we have plants in, we of course want to get the most amount of light in there to get the plants as big and strong as possible.”
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Glass House Farms