Licensed Marijuana Producer: Broken Coast Cannabis
From humble beginnings, Vancouver Island’s Broken Coast Cannabis has emerged as one of the west coast’s best-known licensed medicinal cannabis producers. Head grower Kevin Anderson discusses the challenges Broken Coast has overcome and the approach it has taken to be successful.
How did you get into growing?
I’ve always been an avid plant lover. I quit my job after a couple of years as an electronics engineer to study arboriculture so I could work with trees. I also love growing fruit trees and vegetables and live in a home that is overcrowded with houseplants. Growing cannabis is just an extension of my love of plants but I like that I also get to use my more technical side as we have a fairly sophisticated growing space.
How did you discover the products you use in your growroom?
Reading books, browsing the Internet and magazines like Maximum Yield, coupled with lots of trial and error. The key is to start simple, create the perfect environment, then look at how you’re growing the plants and perfect your particular system. Start with a low feed and increase the strength until the plants are just right. Pay attention to how they look through each stage of growth, slightly underfeeding the plants is usually better than over feeding them, so dialing upwards and not downwards is better in my opinion.
What kinds of equipment do you find make the most difference in the garden?
No one piece of equipment alone is key as all factors in your garden work together. Your garden will only be as good as its weakest link. That said, achieving a perfect environment is probably the first place to start. Start by sealing up the room, removing the in and out air vents. This method of growing uses an air conditioner to cool the room while pure CO2 is supplied at the optimal level for the plants to grow. This achieves a higher level of control and accuracy over the temperature and humidity of the room, coupled with the addition of elevated levels of CO2. Growing in a sealed environment also helps keep the growroom sterile and free from pests. This is beneficial in a medical system where regulations are strict and the product must pass vigorous testing for pesticides, bacteria and mold.
So I would say an air conditioner, dehumidifier and CO2 controller are the most important pieces of equipment in the garden as they allow you to grow in a perfectly controlled environment. Once you have a perfect environment, how you grow your plants can be low tech, with some pots of coco or peat moss that you feed by hand all the way up to a computer-controlled hydroponic system like we use at Broken Coast.
What are you growing right now?
We are currently cultivating several different varieties of cannabis. Some are varieties we have grown before, some are new varieties we have either crossed ourselves or selected from seed like Sour OG and Master Kush. Our current favorites are Super Lemon Haze, Pink Kush, God Kush and CBD Kush as these plants cover a wide range of cannabinoids and cannabis types, providing a wide choice for patients’ differing needs in only a few strains. We are currently undergoing a large expansion that will allow us to more than double our selection while maintaining a level of consistency for those patients who have found a strain that works for them.
Any other advice to achieving a successful crop?
Timing and rhythm. Leaning the correct time to perform tasks and the rhythm of your plants will help you improve on each grow and become one with your favorite strains. Knowing the exact time clones take to root so they are not left to stretch in the trays, when to transplant to achieve the fastest growth and the perfect size to initiate the flowering cycle can all make the difference between average and great results. Once flowering is initiated, take notes and pay attention to the rhythm of the plant. How long and how much the plant stretches, when best to prune, when the first flowers appear and how long each stage of flowering lasts. With this information you can begin to tailor your feeding schedules to particular strains and keep them perfectly healthy from clone to harvest with no delays or stress to the plant.
Tell us a bit about your industry experience.
So far my experience has been great. Working at a small start-up has been really inspiring and motivating, and the guys at Broken Coast are an amazing group of people. We started with very little and built it ourselves, including the time I was holding a plumber’s wrench. Health Canada has extremely strict regulations but in the end we have tried to rise to each challenge and ended up better at what we. There are definitely things I would like to see changed to make our lives easier—keeping track of every single seed, clone, plant and leaf to account for it being created, moved and disposed of takes up a lot of time. Maybe with full nationwide legalization these types of non-product quality related regulations will ease up.
What recommendations do you have for someone who wants to get into the industry?
First, you should be prepared for the job to be nothing like the stoner movies you’ve seen because the environment we work in is very strict. If you love plants and cannabis in general, then just give it all you’ve got but be prepared to start at the bottom and work your way up. There is always more to learn and it definitely never gets old!