Rooted in Family Values: The Cedar Organics Story
Rooted in Family Values: The Cedar Organics Story
Nestled beside the picturesque Quenell Lake in sunny Cedar, BC on Vancouver Island, the Cedar region is a verdant paradise steeped in rich agricultural heritage. With the scent of the Salish Sea lingering in the air and Class One peat soil underfoot, this unique microclimate provides the perfect setting for growing exceptional cannabis. It is here that we find Cedar Organics, a family-oriented cannabis producer with deep roots and a commitment to putting family first.
At the heart of Cedar Organics lies a simple yet powerful philosophy that has been passed down through generations: family comes first. This guiding principle shapes every aspect of the company's culture, fostering an all-inclusive, supportive, and positive work environment where employees are empowered to grow, succeed, and flourish.
As one of the first outdoor licensed producers on Vancouver Island, Cedar Organics is uniquely positioned to lead the market for premium outdoor cannabis, taking full advantage of the region's exceptional climate, location, and fertile soil. With a clear vision to showcase the best of what the West Coast of BC has to offer, Cedar Organics is committed to producing high-quality solventless concentrates that capture the essence of the region's unique terroir.
In their first year alone, Cedar Organics tested a staggering 78 varietals, pheno-hunting through all 24 acres of plants to uncover the elite strains that stood out. This meticulous process has resulted in a collection of exclusive genetics unique to Cedar Organics, including its flagship strain, Sour Blueberry. With a focus on creating superior genetics using only organic and natural inputs, Cedar Organics is establishing itself as a leader in the industry.
At the helm of this remarkable venture is the founder and GM, Greg Kasting, a fifth-generation Cowichan Valley resident and passionate cannabis enthusiast. With over two decades of experience in urban geography and strategic planning, Greg brings a unique skill set to the management team that helps drive innovation within the company. Sharing his family's commitment to excellence, Greg has worked diligently to cultivate an environment of respect and integrity that is reflected in every product Cedar Organics produces.
We had the pleasure to sit down with Greg to discuss his vision for Cedar Organics, the importance of family values in the cannabis industry, and what makes Cedar such a special place. Through his passion and dedication, Greg has helped build Cedar Organics into an example of what family-oriented cannabis production can and should be: rooted in tradition, inspired by nature, and driven by a commitment to excellence.
Meet Greg Kasting: The man behind the vision
Greg's journey with cannabis started when he was 15 and was diagnosed with Stage 4b Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer. This stage of cancer is considered very advanced and had spread to his lymph nodes and lungs.
In an attempt to manage the severe side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, the doctors prescribed Nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid, but that only made Greg feel worse. It wasn't until he was introduced to cannabis by his uncles that he finally found the relief he so desperately sought.
"The nausea after the chemo was the worst thing. Chemo back then was a very painful situation and it burned the shit out of my face veins."
"The nausea after the chemo was the worst thing. Chemo back then was a very painful situation and it burned the shit out of my veins," Greg recounts. "That and the nauseating effects afterwards. Being high during the chemo period helped me to be in a good mood while I was there, to relax me. So that started me off on my cannabis journey, and my cannabis journey has been an important part of my life."
Fortunately, the story didn't end there. Despite the odds, Greg was able to beat cancer and make a full recovery. But his experience with cannabis left a lasting impression, and his appreciation for the plant only grew over time.
As an adult, he was drawn to real estate and business development, but his passion for cannabis never left him. So, after years of working around the world for large development companies, Greg decided to bring his family and business experience back home to the Cowichan Valley.
In 2017, he saw an opportunity in the emerging Canadian cannabis industry to create something special. With the help of family and friends, Greg found the perfect piece of land in Cedar, BC and set out to create Cedar Organics. His vision was simple: to build a business rooted in family values and environmental stewardship that would bring together the best of what nature has to offer.
Family first: Cultivating cannabis with heart and heritage
When you step foot into Cedar Organics, you immediately sense that this isn't your typical cannabis producer. The company thrives on a philosophy deeply rooted in family values, a principle that Laura Kasting, Greg's younger sister and the "mother of the organization", says is at the core of everything they do.
"Families have values and companies have cultures and I think we all understand that values are very personal. That results in shared beliefs and attitudes that begin to influence the company," Laura explains.
"What makes us unique is the multi-generational aspect of the company. It's not only in our family, but it's in our entire farm. So we employ people from the ages of 19 until the early 60s. As the world changes, as the industry changes, being unique gives us a really unique perspective.
When asked about the importance of family in driving Cedar's success, Laura says that it's an integral part of the fabric of the company. "Greg and I come from a very compassionate, kind and giving family. I hope it's apparent to our staff that our family background translates into the company. We always want to make sure that our staff feel at home when they come to work, and that it's a place where they want to be to flourish and grow and succeed instead of dreading coming in."
This familial bond is palpable within the Cedar Organics team. "Our staff truly care about the company, they care about their jobs," adds Greg. "Sometimes they can be a stickler and get overly concerned about something. At the end of the day, it's coming from caring, not from complication, not from frustration that they don't want to be here."
It's clear that the Kasting family's values of respect and kindness have been woven into the fabric of Cedar Organics. This family-first philosophy is what makes Cedar Organics more than just a cannabis producer—it's a place where passion, innovation, and a love of the land come together to create something truly special.
The Cedar advantage: Harnessing nature for premium cannabis
Cedar Organics has a secret ingredient that sets them apart in the world of cannabis cultivation, and it's not something that can be bought or manufactured. This secret ingredient is the natural environment of Cedar itself. During the fall and winter months, their growing field becomes fully submerged in water. This unique ecosystem provides the cannabis plants with a unique advantage and helps Cedar Organics to produce some of the highest quality flowers in the industry.
"We're starting off from a six-month field saturation. So it becomes a lake in over 75% of our field during the winter, and that creates a natural flush," explains their Master Grower, Alex McKay. "There's not a lot of point in amending the soil in our situation. We try to move our soil around and accommodate less fertile areas of the grounds and move things up as the years go on but basically, we're sitting on a 20,000-year-old ancient Peat bog with the majority of our grow."
The soil at Cedar Organics is full of naturally occurring minerals and nutrients, which makes it perfect for growing cannabis. "You've essentially got a reset compost of very dark and quite fluffy, light material that has broken down over the years and we just don't mess with it too much," Alex explains.
"We're getting a lot of that natural biological interaction that we would be paying for. We're just sitting off of Quenell Lake, and it's not horribly deep, but there's tons of bass, there's tons of frogs, fish, ducks, swans, etcetera. So the best thing our plants can get is to just get into our richer peat soil."
This type of flood and drain system creates a more nutrient-rich environment, a farming technique that dates back to the French Acadians, a group of French settlers who were able to turn unfertile land near the Bay of Fundy into fruitful farmlands. They were eventually exiled from Canada, where they went on to play a major role in the development of Cajun culture. What they left behind, however, is a remarkable feat of agricultural innovation that showed North Americans the power of using local resources for natural regeneration.
"It's a French tradition that goes back thousands and thousands of years," Alex shares. "People pay for these lock and gate systems, and people work hundreds of years to build these things up. It's a natural process of regeneration, of recycling, and really of eliminating pests and disease from the land, not to mention all the natural fertilizers."
The result is a richer, better-tasting product that can only be found at Cedar Organics. From the time-honoured traditions of their farming techniques to the carefully crafted genetics of their strains, everything Cedar Organics does reflects a deep respect for nature and the cannabis plant itself. This commitment to quality and craftsmanship is at the heart of Cedar Organics and a key part of the company's success.
The genetic tapestry: Unique genetics for unique cannabis
The journey of all Cedar Organics plants starts long before it reaches the cultivation stage—it begins with a meticulous process of genetic testing and selection. The company has spent years perfecting its growing techniques to create some of the most sought-after strains in the industry.
"Through breeding, Alex is creating about 40 to 50 new varieties each year," says Greg. "Then he selects about 20 odd plants that are going to be trialled, typically of not less than 100 plants each. And that's how we go about things. This year, we're going to have about eight commercial-scale strains."
When it comes to planting, Cedar embraces a unique approach. As Alex explains, "We're looking very much into densely packing seeds straight to the ground and then just pulling males early. What's going to be really unique about bringing 10,000 fairly stable seeds to harvest all at the same time is that you're not going to get this one very particular type of flavour. You're going to get a robust flavour."
Among the many varietals they experimented with, a few strains have become standouts. "We've really come back and done a lot of reiterations of things, and we've been working off the God Bud and a Girl Scout Cookie that is quite citrusy," shares Alex. "I dug into a lot of God Bud crosses that we got from a bunch of different legacy growers. I'm quite confident that we're going to have some nice stuff in there."
Some of the strains that are on tap for this year include Sour Blueberry, Orange Crush and Purple Papaya. "The market is saying, especially with live rosin, that they want flavours and we're listening, we're seeing to that," Greg shares. "We really want to get on these big, heavy, creamy, fruity flavours."
No matter which varietal they're growing, Cedar Organics puts the same amount of care and attention into each one. It's what sets them apart from other cannabis cultivators, and it's why their products are so sought after. This is the Cedar Organics difference—a commitment to quality that comes from a deep respect for nature and the cannabis plant itself.
As the cannabis industry moves away from artificial techniques and embraces more organic methods, Cedar Organics is at the forefront of this movement. "We're focusing on live, solventless and organic. We have been fully organic since 2021," says Greg.
Live extraction is a labour-intensive process that yields some of the highest-quality cannabis concentrates on the market. Cedar uses this technique to create their own unique products, including their signature live rosin, vape cartridges and hash.
Technically, the process is quite simple. It begins with frozen flowers that are placed into 65-gallon washing barrels. "When we make the bubble hash, we start with a 220-micron work bag," Greg explains, "From that 220 we're draining and bouncing everything off of a 25-micron vibrating sieve. So currently, what we're utilizing is a 45 to 160 to make our A-grade hash."
The result is a range of premium, high-quality concentrates extracted from fresh frozen organic flowers that are in a class of their own. "If you want a premium product with as little negative impact on the environment and your body, then our live, solventless and organic products are the way to go," says Greg.
Looking ahead: The future of Cedar Organics
As Cedar Organics continues to make its mark in the world of cannabis, Greg already has his eyes set on the future. His vision for Cedar Organics is one of growth, innovation, and resilience.
"The most exciting project that we're going to be launching very quickly is through a partnership with Synthite and Common Roots Extracts," Greg reveals. "We are now going to start producing live resins, diamonds and terp sauce."
But it doesn't stop there—Cedar is also looking at expanding its footprint and getting more involved in the local communities. "We do qualify for Farmgate sales, and so we want to launch that. We have a very real market here on Vancouver Island and I think that for our medium and long-term stability, we need to focus on becoming a major supplier to our local market."
This commitment to growth and expansion is part of Cedar Organics' culture and a testament to the fact that they are in it for the long haul. With the company's commitment to creating quality products and a vision for long-term success, there is no doubt that Cedar Organics will continue to make waves in the cannabis industry.
Sowing seeds of change: A final note on Cedar's Legacy
Cedar Organics is more than just a cannabis company—it's a testament to the power of family values, commitment to quality, and respect for the environment. These unique factors set Cedar Organics apart in an increasingly crowded market, making them not just a cannabis producer, but a champion of sustainable, community-focused cultivation.
From their commitment to organic growing methods to their dedication to providing high-quality products, Cedar Organics is an inspiring model of what the future of cannabis production could look like. This is the Cedar Organics story—a story rooted in family values, innovation and sustainability. It's a story that's still being written, and one that will continue to shape the future of cannabis for years to come.
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