Fifth generation agriculturalist William Terry and entrepreneur Stephen Walden unveiled a new operation focused on bringing best-in-class farming practices to California sun-grown cannabis. Rooted in verdant Santa Barbara County, Farming First Holdings has established 134 acres of rolling outdoor cultivation, possessing entitlements for what will become the largest contiguous outdoor cultivation operation in California.
Farming First offers a variety of products and services to the cannabis industry: single-source bulk wholesale flower; white-labeling; co-packaging; and custom farming contracts for specific needs, including dried and cured flower, fresh frozen, and unique phenotypical and cannabinoid specific strains. All of Farming First's cannabis plants are sustainably sun-grown under hoop houses, focusing on rich terpene profiles expressed through the Company's hybrid farming methodology.
"Farming First isn't just our name—it's our mission," said co-founder and CEO Terry. "My family has farmed California's Central Coast region for more than 125 years, giving me immense respect for the land and surrounding community. Along with Walden and the other founders, we've assembled an incredible team that brings together unrivaled cultivation know-how and modern innovation, including agricultural experts, legacy cannabis farmers, lifelong entrepreneurs, and visionary designers and engineers."
"Farming First is showcasing quality flower through a diversity of strains by applying the best of indoor, greenhouse, and outdoor growing techniques to our crop," said Walden. "We like to call our farm a one-lighter because our plants are 100 percent solar-powered by the sun—the best and most natural source there is."
Added Wilson, "Today's cannabis consumer is curious about where their product comes from: where it's grown, how it's grown, and the stories behind the brands they put in their bodies and bring into their homes. We're providing California operators with flower they can be proud to put their name on, and anticipate launching our own lineup of product brands very soon."
Farming First is on a mission to revolutionize and lead the sun-grown cannabis market in California. With a focus on sustainable growing practices and ethical land management, the Company employs energy-efficient farming practices such as water saving irrigation technology, solar powered hoop house venting and sunlight deprivation, as well as sustainable cattle grazing on over 1,200 acres of surrounding lands. Additionally, Farming First is working with environmental groups to help protect the endangered California Tiger Salamander indigenous to its land.
The Company has raised over $35M in private funding since its inception, with plans to expand the farm's scale and yield.
Farming First's recently appointed executive leadership team includes:
- William Terry, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer: Terry has served on a variety of boards, including as president of the Ventura County Farm Bureau, University of California's Hansen Fund, California Pepper Commission, and others. He also serves as vice president of Terry Farms, a 2,000+ acre specialty crop operation.
- Stephen Walden, Co-Founder & Chief Operations Officer: Prior to co-founding Farming First, Walden founded Bosse Tools, revolutionizing hardware tools with ergonomic design that he patented and later licensed. He also launched a lifestyle cannabis brand in 2018.
- Jered Micheli, Co-Founder and Agricultural Officer: Micheli is a fourth-generation farmer from northern California with over 15 years of experience in the cannabis industry. He previously managed western U.S. agricultural operations for Canopy Growth, and helped shape the regulatory framework for recreational cannabis.
- Scott Wilson, Chief Branding Officer: Wilson is the former Chief Experience Officer at Cresco Labs, responsible for creating the industry-leading MSO's House of Brands. He is the founder and principal designer of the product development, brand strategy and business innovation firm MNML, creating billions of dollars of commercial success for brands including Nike, Nespresso, Theragun, Bang & Olufsen, Google, Meta and Xbox. Wilson received the prestigious Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award, an honor bestowed by the White House on the nation's top designer each year.
- Thomas Salzillo, Chief Finance Officer: A Southern California native with a background in accounting, Salzillo's demonstrable influence and financial prowess in the cannabis industry has been recognized with the designation of 2019 CPA of the Year by the California Cannabis Awards.
- Mario de la Piedra, Vice President of Operations: Born and raised in Ventura County, de la Piedra has been involved in all aspects of agriculture, including farming, political advocacy and most recently, the founding of an agribusiness insurance company. He currently serves as an advisor to Seso, an agtech labor marketplace.
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