Seastone Farm: A Micro-Cultivator's Journey to Excellence
Seastone Farm: A Micro-Cultivator's Journey to Excellence
Perched amid the tranquil landscapes of British Columbia, Denman Island is a haven for those who seek a quiet, harmonious life. A Northern Gulf Island in the Strait of Georgia, Denman has become a sanctuary for sustainable farming, innovative entrepreneurship, and those seeking harmonious co-existence with nature. It's on this picturesque island that you'll find Seastone Farm, a unique fusion of family heritage, love for the land, and cutting-edge cultivation techniques.
Yasha Berg, the co-founder of Seastone Farm, is no stranger to the cadence of the island life or the rhythms of nature. Raised by parents who were part of the 'back to the land' movement, Berg grew up on a 40-acre property that had been transformed from an overgrown homestead into an organic apple orchard in the late '70s.
Today, this property not only houses over 60 varieties of apples but also serves as the base for Seastone Farm, a micro cannabis indoor farm. The name 'Seastone' itself was inspired by the sandstone beach adjacent to the property, a favourite after-work swim and hang-out spot.
Berg's journey into cannabis cultivation began when he was just 14, finding some of his mother's cannabis seeds and growing them in a back swamp. This ignited a passion that has spanned over three decades, evolving from hobby growing to outdoor cultivation and eventually to indoor cultivation under the MMAR. His love for growing plants never waned, and when legalization was announced in Canada, Berg saw an opportunity to merge his passion for cannabis cultivation with his family's legacy of sustainable farming.
In late fall of 2018, Berg and his wife Richelle embarked on a new adventure – starting Seastone Farm. Their vision was to create a micro cannabis indoor farm that upheld the values and history of the property. However, the journey was not without its challenges. It took several years and the birth of two additional children before they were granted the micro-cultivation license in September 2022. But their perseverance paid off, and by 2023, Seastone Farm began its operations, producing high-quality, small-batch, hand-crafted cannabis flower.
Today, Seastone Farm is a testament to the family's dedication to quality and sustainability. This is true micro-cultivation at its finest with small flower rooms housing 120 plants under 14 lights each. All flowers are hand-trimmed, hang-dried and cold-cured for at least 14 days, ensuring a high-quality product for their consumers.
Berg's experience as a builder, running his own carpentry business for ten years, was instrumental in constructing the micro-cultivation facility. This, combined with his siblings and friends who helped design and build the facility, truly makes Seastone Farm a family affair.
The future looks bright for Seastone Farm, with plans to add micro-processing, expand cultivation space, introduce farm gate sales, and transition to organic cannabis cultivation. They continue to be a shining example of how passion, perseverance, and a deep connection to the land can create a successful and sustainable business in harmony with nature.
Join us as we delve deeper into Yasha Berg's journey, the inner workings of Seastone Farm, and their vision for a sustainable future in the exclusive interview to follow.
From apple seeds to cannabis: Yasha Berg's early years
Growing up on a 40-acre transformed organic apple orchard shaped Berg deeply. As he fondly recalls, "Many of my early memories are of gardening and farm work; including seed germination, transplanting in the greenhouse, planting in the spring, harvesting in the fall and just all of the hard work involved in growing and farming in general."
This was a time when the rhythms of nature dictated daily life, and the land was more than just a source of sustenance. It was a way of life, where the family's connection to the land was evident in every aspect of their daily routine.
These experiences served as the bedrock of Berg's affinity for nature and cultivation. His parents' dedication to sustainable farming made a profound impression on him. He shares, "My parents were passionate about producing healthy organic apples and produce. In the mid 80’s my mother was part of a committee that came up with the certification guidelines for organic farming in BC. All of this had a big influence on me!"
The values of commitment, sustainability, and quality instilled in Berg during his formative years stayed with him, and laid the foundation for his entrepreneurial journey. It was the culmination of a lifetime’s experience and passion that led him to start Seastone Farm.
"Having a love for growing something and producing a quality end product, that's always stuck with me. As the years went by I was hoping to turn cannabis cultivation into a career. Then everything lined up as far as experience, resources, opportunity and a strong desire to start my own business. The timing was right to start Seastone Farm!"
The making of Seastone Farm: A testament to perseverance
Establishing Seastone Fars was an endeavour marked by strong determination, family support, and the will to overcome obstacles. It was a journey that stemmed from the heart. As Berg recalls, “With cannabis legalization in 2018 and the option for a small business model with a micro cultivation licence, we realized an opportunity."
"My wife and I had wanted to become more involved in my parent's orchard and property and we both had experience in the legacy cannabis industry, so it all just made sense!” Berg's vision was clear - to build out a micro-cultivation facility on the property while staying true to their values of family, sustainability, and quality.
The first step was obtaining the micro-cultivation license. Berg and his wife submitted their application in the late fall of 2018 but faced months of uncertainty before finally receiving approval in September 2022. This long wait and the challenges that came with it only strengthened their resolve.
“We completed most of the application process ourselves, however we had to get help with part of it. In 2018 there were consulting companies advertising that for 30 to 40 thousand dollars, they would do your entire application and get it approved, but that was cost prohibitive to us,” Berg shares.
Navigating the process while juggling other commitments proved to be a dynamic dance. Berg explains, "It just felt like a never-ending thing of jumping to whatever needed more of my attention. From family demands to making a living. The project moved along in stages, anytime there was some spare money and time I would get back to work on the facility.”
Despite the financial constraints and a growing family, Berg demonstrated an undying commitment to his vision, steadily inching toward his dream. The four-year journey, while gruelling, was a testament to his perseverance and resilience.
Today, Seastone Farm stands tall as a successful micro-cultivation operation and an embodiment of Berg's determination to create something truly remarkable. As we explore further, we'll learn more about the inner workings of Seastone Farm and how they continue to set a high standard for cannabis cultivation.
Behind the scenes: A day in the life at Seastone Farm
Every day at Seastone Farm is a busy one, with a small team dedicated to the needs of the crop and the facility. "Most days I just get up and come to the facility because there's always work to do," Berg shares.
His routine varies from office work and paperwork to monitoring the rooms and planning out the future growth cycles. Being an owner-operator, Berg doesn't shy away from getting his hands dirty. "If we're short someone for bottom pruning, I'm in there for half a day doing that when I need to.”
A typical day also involves a lot of manual labour and hands-on work, which is where Berg's background in carpentry comes into play. "It’s been helpful for repairs and upgrades to our facility. It seems like there’s always something to fix or improve and the less we need to hire off-island contractors to come over the better."
Their dedication to the farm is unwavering, and it's evident in their small but mighty team. "Between me and 1 or 2 employees, we're doing all the daily tasks besides trimming. This includes; managing the climate in 5 rooms, cloning, transplanting, moving plants between veg and flower rooms, pruning, harvesting, mixing nutrients, lots of cleaning and the list goes on! Also included is a bit of office work each day to complete detailed record-keeping required by Health Canada," Berg explains.
Once a month, the farm becomes a hub of social activity when it's time for the trim. Reminiscent of the older days, a sense of camaraderie fills the air as friends and family gather to help with the trimming process. It's a time for bonding, making memories, and sharing in the fruits of their labour.
Despite having three kids, Richelle will also assist wherever required. Berg explains, "My wife helps with administrative tasks including business compliance and employee scheduling. She also has past experience in the industry so if the work load is piling up, she'll jump in for a day and get into the rooms to help out.”
The sheer dedication and commitment of the Seastone Farm team is a testament to their love for their craft. With the belief that the farm will always be a part of their life, Berg and his family are working towards creating a lasting legacy in the cannabis industry. Our journey through Seastone Farm continues, with a deeper dive into their cultivation practices and their commitment to producing the best micro-cultivated cannabis.
Cultivation techniques: A continuous journey
As a micro-cultivator, Seastone Farm practices small-batch growing techniques, with a focus on quality over quantity. Each room houses 14 lights and 120 plants, with an automated irrigation system that helps maintain a consistent level of moisture and nutrients.
This permits a more hands-on approach to cultivation, allowing the team to fine-tune their methods and adjust as needed. Berg explains, "With a new facility and switching to some different techniques from past experience, we had to really focus on improving and perfecting our methods."
"For example, trying to achieve a really full canopy at the ideal height is something that can take a couple cycles, especially with a new space and strain. We’re seeing improved quality and yield with every crop right now!"
The plants are grown in coco coir, a sustainable medium made from coconut husks. This allows for better drainage and aeration, creating an ideal environment for root growth. The use of coco coir also means that the plants can be more easily flushed, ensuring a clean and smooth final product.
The key to maintaining the quality of Seastone Farm's cannabis products, according to Berg, lies in consistent observation and management. "The biggest thing is being here every day as an owner-operator. If I don't maintain quality, then my business won’t survive in a super competitive market."
Once the plants are harvested, they're hung dry for at least two weeks, sometimes extending up to 18 days. After that, the final trimming process takes place, creating a pristine product ready to be consumed. From there, the product goes through a curing process, where they are stored in air-tight containers to preserve and enhance their terpene profiles.
"We'll take the lids off for a few hours, trying to get it to that perfect point," Berg explains about the curing process. "Especially during curing, we're checking twice a day, adjusting temperatures a little bit up or down, or humidity. And the same during the trimming. We're always checking trim quality, temperatures, and humidity in the trim room."
Berg's comment further underlines their diligence in handling the product, "We're just trying to really monitor everything, right to the moment it's into the bag, sealed. We’re always treating the product with a lot of care during the finishing process.”
Current offerings: Seastone Farm's strain selection
Seastone Farm debuted its first three strains in the market - Grape Pie, Chem de la Chem, and Double Dream which have been a hit with cannabis enthusiasts. The selection process for future strains is ongoing, with Berg constantly testing new genetics to find the perfect fit for Seastone Farm.
The Grape Pie is an indica cross between Cherry Pie and Grape Stomper, known for its distinct grape aroma and relaxing effects. Chem de la Chem, a sativa-dominant hybrid, boasts a pungent diesel aroma and uplifting high. Double Dream, a sativa-dominant blend of Blue Dream and Dream Star, is known for its sweet fruity flavours and balanced effects.
"For our clones, we've been going through Segra or Life Cycles to ensure super clean high-quality plants coming in. We wanted to minimize our risk of introducing any pests or plant disease into the facility," Berg says when asked about their strain selection process.
As for what's in the pipeline, Berg revealed, "Right now we have two flower rooms of Jelly Breath and one room of the original Bubba Kush. In the vegetative stage, we have Banjo and more Bubba Kush." As old-school strains and new genetics come together, Seastone Farm is looking to carve out its niche in the market with its unique and carefully cultivated strains.
Growth and diversification: The road ahead for Seastone Farm
The future of Seastone Farm is painted with the brush of expansion and diversification while holding tight to its quality-first approach. As a micro-cultivator, the farm has certain limitations in size, “Your total grow area as a micro is 2150 sq.ft. and that's fine with us, but we want to at least maximize that, which means adding another cultivation room to our facility - that's probably the next thing."
In addition to improving their cultivation practices, the vision incorporates new aspects such as microprocessing, once they have a consistently high-quality product. Berg says it's a bit further down the line, "We just want to concentrate on growing for now, get our systems super dialled, always be producing a consistently high-end product, and that's maybe when microprocessing will make sense."
Alongside the growth of the cannabis operation, the team at Seastone Farm harbours ambitions to integrate the orchard and cannabis farm into a unique visitor experience. This farmgate-style experience will allow visitors to explore the farm, learn about cannabis cultivation and enjoy a taste of their quality products.
The idea of merging the two worlds is an idea that excites Berg, "Because the orchard produces really good organic apple juice, growing a greenhouse CBD strain and making CBD-infused sparkling apple juice would be super cool. That's just one idea."
The potential for innovation and creativity is endless, and Seastone Farm is excited to continue on this journey toward building a lasting legacy in the cannabis industry. With their dedication to quality and passion for the plant, it's safe to say that Seastone Farm is a micro-cultivator worth keeping an eye on.
Reflecting on Seastone Farm's journey
Seastone Farm exemplifies the integration of passion, quality cultivation, and a heartfelt connection to the land. Berg explains, "The micro license to our property was to enable the orchard to continue. It's part of the identity of our property and we want to continue it." In essence, the micro-cultivation license has allowed Berg and his team to continue caring for the land, while also expanding into a new industry.
At Herbal Dispatch, we're proud to partner with micro-cultivators like Seastone Farm who are committed to producing high-quality, sustainable cannabis products. We believe in supporting these farmers and their unique visions, as they play a crucial role in the growth and diversity of the cannabis industry.
As Seastone Farm continues to grow and evolve, we look forward to seeing their continued success and contribution to the cannabis community. Thank you, Yasha and the Seastone Farm team for sharing your story with us. We can't wait to see what the future holds for you and your farm.
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