Many of the origin stories of I-502 cannabis producers and processors, while typically interesting, can come off as a little sterile. The journey is usually some variation of, there was an opportunity to make money, and we took it. Yes, some skill-sets and timing had to come together to make it happen, but profit is usually the unabashed motivating factor. As long as the result of that motivation is quality products, everybody wins.
It is refreshing, however, to hear an origin story that’s different. Matthew Frigone, the owner of Lazy Bee Gardens, a Tier 3 cannabis producer in Winthrop, entered the cannabis industry with an entirely different purpose. About a decade ago, well before I-502, Frigone’s dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Frigone moved home from being a ‘snowboard bum’ in Utah, and started growing medical cannabis on his dad’s property so his dad would have affordable access to the plant.
It turns out, Matthew’s holistic approach to gardening and his thirst for knowledge produced some pretty spectacular cannabis. So when I-502 rolled out, Frigone reluctantly, with the encouragement of family, and the support of an investor, took the leap and began growing legal recreational cannabis.
When it came time to come up with the name and brand, there was no focus group or creative mastermind. It wasn’t some high concept thought up by business people. The farm had always been called Lazy B Gardens, the B stood for Bernhardt, Frigone’s dad’s last name. Since pollinated female cannabis plants are a worst-case scenario, calling the farm Lazy Bee Gardens seemed like a natural progression.
“I put probably five minutes of thought into the name. It just kind of happened,” Frigone shared with The Sesh. “The logo also came naturally. THC crystals kind of look like honeycombs. So we thought, why not just have a THC crystal with a bee on it.”
Frigone applies the same easy-going, natural and organic mindset to his cannabis grow. Lazy Bee Gardens uses greenhouses, light-dep hoop houses, and permaculture, to grow some excellent cannabis, as naturally and sustainably as possible
“We were growing organic veggies, and flowers, the same time we were growing medical cannabis,” Frigone explained. “When we entered the recreational cannabis arena we used the same methods we were using back then. Working with an organic permaculture model, or as close to it as we can. We are still a work in progress.”
Being in touch with the land, having grown up in the region, and respecting the soil, gives Frigone a different perspective about his cannabis, and cannabis in general.
“Being where we are in Winthrop we have a really unique area, a really unique climate, and soil,” Frigone said. “I think our terroir plays a role in why we have tasty weed. I think it has something to do with the fact that we have really hot days over here, but being in the mountains we also have really cold nights. And I think plants kind of like that. Kind of the same as ice wine, or certain wine grapes. That plays a little bit of a role in the way we grow.”
Thinking about cannabis in a macro sense, how it relates to the land, and how it is similar to other crops, is fairly unique. Frigone’s connection to the land and the plants helps inform his production process. Knowing the limits of Winthrop’s growing season helped Frigone decide that all of his plants would be grown using light-dep, and not grown full-term.
“Being up in the mountains, and having a really short season, we’re really limited in what we can grow outside full-term,” Frigone explained. “Very few strains finish full-term in Winthrop. So we light-dep. Because one, I think light dep pot is almost always better than its full-term counterpart. But also because we’re kind of forced to do so.”
In addition to working with the land by using light dep, Frigone also uses permaculture practices to avoid tilling, keep his plants drought-resistant, and replicate rich forest soil as much as possible.
For pesticides, Lazy Bee Gardens uses predatory mites, and neem oil on plants in veg when necessary, but never uses neem on plants in flower, and avoids it when it’s not necessary. Lazy Bee Gardens is Clean Green Certified™, using only organically-derived fertilizers and pesticides.
Frigone’s thoughtfulness when it comes to his flower pays off. At the 2018 Seattle DOPE Cup Lazy Bee Gardens won “Best SunGrown Sativa Flower” for its Tesla Tower and “Best SunGrown Hybrid Flower” for its Jack of Spades. At the 2018 Seattle Suncup, Lazy Bee Gardens won, “Best CBD Concentrate” for its Lilly CBD Sap, and “Best CO2 Dab” for its Tangie EVFO.
And if you consume some of Lazy Bee Gardens products, you’ll likely notice how special they are. The terpene content is unmatched. Their flower and concentrates have a fragrance and flavor that can only come from sun-grown cannabis. Perhaps that’s why budtenders are quick to recommend Lazy Bee Gardens’ products.
Frigone sounds more like a farmer and less like a horticulture specialist. Which might explain why Lazy Bee Gardens’ products seem to stand out from the crowd in the best way possible. It’s also refreshing to see someone who was born and raised in Washington in an agricultural setting, come up in the legal cannabis world.
Frigone isn’t some out-of-state Trustafarian or banker trying to make a quick buck in Washington’s legal cannabis market. He’s a local who used his agro background, and the awful diagnosis of his dad, to create something beautiful. Oh, and by the way, ten years later, and Frigone’s dad is still with us, and his cancer is gone. Is that a testament to Lazy Bee Gardens’ cannabis? Frigone would never say that. But you can decide for yourself.