Green Rose Farms is a small, sun-grown micro cultivator in New Brunswick, about 20 minutes outside of Moncton.
Licensed in 2021, owner Adam Hicks is busy preparing for his second season on the 30-acre farm where he and his wife live.
Initially intimidated by the cost and scope of some of the larger production licences, Hicks says he began looking at an outdoor micro licence after being inspired by other outdoor micro growers, including some in New Brunswick.
“I had the land, and I saw that some others were getting licensed with just a fence and a garage and it seemed like something I could do,” explains Hicks.
After finding a buyer for his first crop—around 25kg of flower—to a third party processor, he’s aiming for a much larger harvest this year, and also rented a small indoor space to do a run of feminized seeds over the winter—a Bad Breath/GMO cross—something he also hopes to begin selling into the provincial or medical markets, potentially with a partner.
“I can sell seeds directly into the provincial markets now, but I think it’s hard to build excitement for a seed release that’s only maybe four out of ten provinces. I’d like to see the seed brands be coast-to-coast, so I am looking for a medical partner for that.”
He says that building partnerships to get to market is something he quickly learned. Although he wants to get his own processing and sales licence in another few years, finding someone who can just take a crop and deal with all the other steps has its advantages.
After running a modest 25kg crop in the first year, Hicks says he’s planning for around 80kg this year, which he hopes will be enough to justify his time and expenses. Ideally, he is looking for a local processor that offers solventless extraction.
Although he says he loves growing cannabis, he emphasizes that with current prices for cannabis—especially outdoor cannabis—sometimes going for as little as under $1 a gram, it’s a tough row to hoe.
“I’m under less pressure than some because I’m not renting the space. I farm twenty feet from my house, so that’s giving me an advantage. So I think we’re in a good position to weather any storms, especially price compression, but it’s hard to say when we’ll become profitable.”
Ideally, he thinks the 200m2 canopy limit for an outdoor micro should be increased. While an indoor micro with the same canopy limit can do five or six crops a year. Even with potentially higher yields in an outdoor crop, he argues it’s still a big disadvantage.
“I don’t think people should get an outdoor micro if you want to get rich. I don’t think you should be interested in the cannabis space at all right now unless you’re a real cannabis person because it’s not easy. I don’t know if you can be an outdoor micro farmer without holding down other jobs. Not under the current canopy.”
One possibility for increasing profits is a farmgate store. Although he’s skeptical it would make sense to build and manage a full-time store, running something part-time could work.
“I’m thinking of setting up a small farmgate that’s seasonal. Somewhere that people can come and get clones on a Saturday afternoon, so I’m not paying someone to sit there six hours a day every day waiting for someone to drive by.”
Clearly passionate about his craft, Hicks says he really wants to make it work, but again cautions others to do their homework before diving in.
“Try to find allies in the industry that you can trust. They can be invaluable when sharing information, best practices, and even sharing the cost of expensive cultivation tools.”
Building partnerships locally, especially when finding processing and distribution partners, can help save money, too. Partnering with small, local companies can also help ensure you aren’t waiting in the line behind much larger growers.
And in the meantime, run lean and mean and hold on for dear life.
“Try to keep your cost of production as low as you can, in an attempt to weather the current storm of price compression. The larger LPs can’t produce an ounce for $150 and sell it for $100 forever. Outdoor micro-cultivators can also lower their costs of production by growing in their native soil instead of pots and growing some of their own amendments, like alfalfa.
“If you’re growing outdoors, under the sun, I recommend getting some hoop houses or some type of greenhouse. With storms becoming more intense due to climate change, it brings some peace of mind to know that the plants and resin that you’ve worked so hard to grow will be protected late in the season. The big challenge with hoop houses, though, is to make sure you’re not trapping humidity, especially during flowering.”