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Walker Patton, Woody Nelson:

CAN: "We loved the challenge of figuring out how to do vertical farming with organic living soil"

"While the genetics contain a plant's potential, it's the environment that determines how that potential is expressed. All our plants are grown in organic living soil, and the facility is built around a philosophy of biomimetics," says Walker Patton of Woody Nelson, a licensed producer of cannabis in Nelson, BC. The facility is licensed for standard cultivation, standard processing, and the sale of cannabis products to the regulated Canadian market. 

The company was started in 2018 by a group of friends with backgrounds in technology and real estate development. "The vision was to pair incredible genetics with legendary talent at a high-tech facility in the heart of cannabis country. It's been an adventure with many bumps in the road, but we were on a mission," Walker says.

Reaching the plant's full potential 
According to Walker, the secret sauce behind their quality starts with their library of plant genetics. "The library includes many of BC's classics, several cultivars from breeders like Seedy Junky and Archive Seed Bank, and many more from the Kootenay community. There are a few important criteria for the selection of genetics. We've actually created a system for judging the quality of cannabis that takes dozens of factors into consideration and produces a final score out of 100. Categories include how the plant was grown, the appearance, the experience, lab results, and any potential demerits. Weights for each criterion were crowd-sourced from a pool of retailers, consumers, growers, and our own team."

To help the plant reach its full potential, Woody Nelson has several advanced technologies integrated throughout the facility. "The plant habitats feature a 3-tier vertical farming system, dual-spectrum LED lighting, mega HVAC, a reverse osmosis water system, a sensor array, a control system, and an analytics engine that helps us keep an eye on everything," Walker says. "As impressive as that may be, the most important part of the whole operation is our people. Being in the Kootenays means being in a place where the history of cannabis is rich, and it's not uncommon to meet second and third-generation growers. We have the most amazing talent pool here, and their understanding of the plant is probably the biggest reason why we're able to do what we do."

Woody Nelson went for a 3-tier vertical farm for a few reasons. "A big part of it was just loving the challenge of figuring out how to do vertical farming with organic living soil. There were plenty of smaller problems we had to solve along the way to get that to work, but now that it does, we're able to grow a tremendous amount of cannabis in a very small space. We're also excited to be playing a role in the development of other agricultural technologies that may have more of a general utility someday," Walker says.

Not all bad news 
When it comes to the market, Walker says that there are plenty of challenges being a producer or any part of the cannabis supply chain right now. "The industry is struggling, and we'll probably need to see some changes in the regulations before businesses find any sense of equilibrium or sustainability."

Yet it's not all bad news. "The cannabis market in BC is really starting to turn a corner on quality. The first few years of legalization were dominated by large producers and mid-grade cannabis, but last year was the first time where it felt like you could buy great cannabis if you knew what you were looking for. Shoutouts to Organnicraft and Sweetgrass. With more small-batch producers coming online every day, I'm really excited about the future of cannabis in BC."

When it comes to the company's future, there is much to look forward to. "We have so many cool plans for the company, more than we have time to execute on. We have plans to expand our facility, open a farmgate store, scale our production with smaller growers using our genetics, soil, technology, and recipes... and so much more. Besides growing the best cannabis on the planet, we also want to continue developing the agricultural technologies that we think could change the way people think about farming."   

"We would also like to thank everyone who helped us get this far. Our first products are arriving in the market later this month, and it's been a long journey. Couldn't have done it without the support of our friends, family, the Nelson community, and of course, the Woody Nelson team," Walker concludes.

For more information:
Woody Nelson