Coast of Maine: Getting Better with Age
Twenty-six years later, customer feedback has helped Coast of Maine create the rock star of cannabis soils. Company vice president of marketing, Cameron Bonsey, explains why growers love Coast of Maine products.
When the Vice President of Marketing, Cameron Bonsey, joined the Coast of Maine team in the fall of 2007, the company was known for creating unique, organic, and potent compost blends derived from ocean biproducts. Lobster compost, particularly, was a hit with local garden centers throughout New England.
“I learned very quickly that gardeners were reacting emotionally to our natural, recognizable products because of their amazing effectiveness and natural, organic impact on the plants they were cultivating,” explained Bonsey. “Our products were almost like the rock stars of the garden centers.”
This soon transitioned to the emerging cannabis industry. Maine, which is known for its progressive stance, passed its first medicinal cannabis law 1999 that allowed patients to grow their own plants. Patients soon gathered and shared ideas, and spoke proudly of the potency, yield, and purity of the strains they had developed. Local online forums often detailed Coast of Maine’s Quoddy Lobster Compost blended with Pro-Mix and perlite as an amazing combination for growing medicinal marijuana.
At the same time, Bonsey began noticing soil brands like Fox Farm and Dr. Earth on garden center shelves that were catering to this emerging marketplace. He also started calling on local grow shops to study the various soils and nutrients available to caregivers and end users.
“It blew my mind,” he said. “The chemical choices were overwhelmingly varied, and the organic options were from the West Coast. It seemed like a natural choice to develop a local, living organic growing medium. In 2013 we hired a smart and motivated chemical engineer, organic farmer, and licensed caregiver named Felicia Newman. We visited growers and caregivers together to understand their needs and Felicia began the process of creating and testing blends like a mad scientist.”
Newman worked for the next two years on the mix with her experienced staff while Bonsey attended cannabis tradeshows. He often dropped off unlabeled white bags to growers and hydro stores — asking only for feedback in return.
The end result of all that give-and-take is a growers’ blend that incorporates mycorrhizal fungi, kelp, fish bone, and alfalfa meal, as well as worm castings, peat, coir, and, yes, that lobster compost that launched the company way back when.
“We had experience with all these inputs; we’ve been composting for over 25 years and our staff is amazingly responsive,” says Bonsey. “With their dedication we now have a balanced, living soil. There is no need to flush your plants before harvest. We refer to that as ‘growing clean.’”
Feedback has also led to label changes on certain products. Coast of Maine originally promoted its Stonington Grower’s Mix as a water-only, living soil. This still holds when growing in a 15-gallon container. But the company came to understand growers have their own techniques and adjustments that impact every growth season and strain.
Coast of Maine has created a feeding schedule using its Stonington Plant Food and Fishbone Meal in conjunction with the soil. The Stonington Plant Food contains kelp meal, lobster meal, worm casting, alfalfa meal, and fish meal and is perfect for the vegetation cycle. The fishbone meal is high in phosphorus and terrific for buds and blooms. This combination can be used to re-amend Stonington Growers Mix for second growth application, or it can be used with other organic potting mixes. The product’s popularity is evidenced by expanded production capabilities throughout the Northeast.
“We are now producing our Stonington Growers Mix in two locations,” says Bonsey. “Our original Marion, Maine, facility and now our Quarryville, Pa., facilities are cranking. The plan is to support our buy-local, be-sustainable and grow-clean mantra. It’s only taken us 26 years to be in the right place at the right time!”
Coast of Maine Organics is a local New England Company that has been composting lobster shells, kelp, salmon and numerous other ocean resources for more than 20 years. To learn more, visit coastofmaine.com.