Since opening our first facility in Wilmington in 2015, First State Compassion (FSC) has grown several acres of cannabis for use in our proprietary medicines, but each new crop is as important as the first. Keeping a watchful eye throughout the process is our Cultivation Manager and team of medical marijuana growers as they nurture these plants from ‘mother’ to market.
The Growth Cycle
Each plant starts as a cutting from a mother plant, then incubated for two weeks until it grows roots. From there, it’s transplanted to continue the growth cycle for another month or so. The next evolution takes about eight-to-nine weeks, depending on the strain, before the plant is harvested, trimmed, cured and packaged for sale at one of our three Delaware dispensaries. In total, we’re talking a four- to five- month process before it’s ready for patient purchase.
The cannabis plant is far more temperamental than, say, your home geranium. This plant’s health is contingent on controlling environmental variables like humidity, nutrient strength, airflow and, most importantly, keeping them pest-free as they mature. You could say they need a lot of pampering, which is where our team of dedicated growers comes in to ensure the plants develop healthy and strong.
Plants as Pets
Like a devoted parent, the grower teams watch the sprigs progress to adulthood; each person assigned to 40-100 plants. There’s personal pride involved in nurturing their set of plants through the grow process.
We feed them the same nutrients any plant needs, but we’re hyper-vigilant in the grow rooms — like using a magnifying glass to check leaves. And because we don’t use pesticides, we might introduce good bugs to the plant to help kill any bad bugs we find. We’re watching all the time: our growers can’t stop touching and tending to their plants.
Every plant has a birthday and barcode. And, yes, some are even given nicknames by their ‘chaperones’: “These are My Girls.” The friendly competition among the teams shows in their unique slogans – Our Cannabis Will Make You a Fan-of-Us is a particularly memorable one.
A Green Thumb Instinct
We have a saying at FSC: “We can turn anyone’s thumb green!” Yes, there is specific on-the-job training as well as a strict adherence to OSHA requirements comparable to any pharmaceutical company, but the qualification that our growers share is a natural instinct of knowing when a plant needs attention. It’s one thing to make sure every step of the cultivation process is documented and signed off; it’s another thing to put your heart into doing a great job because you know you’re helping grow medicine that can make a difference in a patient’s quality of life.
So, as you can see, our growers take their work seriously, but the one place that’s all about creativity is the opportunity to name the proprietary strains — like Queen MB and First State Fuel. Now, what other job lets you do that?