Cannabis legalization has opened the door for the industry to lead the way in environmentally ethical operations. Unfortunately, with big money interests nipping at the heel of the cannabis industry, that isn’t always the case. Puffin Farms, however, is leading the way in creating a profitable product that might just help the earth too.
A Healing Path
Dr. Jade Stefano is a naturopath, and her profession undoubtedly helped inform her farm’s operations. Stefano spoke with The Sesh about how Puffin Farms got its start, and she made the jump from a naturopath to a sun-grown cannabis queen.
“My husband and I were growing medically before 502,” Dr. Stefano recalled. “For many years prior, we grew medically for ourselves, and for other patients and friends and families who had medical needs. Near the end of medical, right before 502 happened, we transitioned into growing mostly CBD strains. So we were on a big hunt for CBD strains in those years.”
Those “pheno-hunts,” as Stefano referred to them, were successful. She was able to procure and isolate CBD strains she still grows today.
“We saw the need for CBD strains for medical patients pretty early, and that became a big part of what we grew,” Stefano explained.
From Medical to Recreational
As with many medical cannabis growers, I-502 served as a fork in the road for Stefano. With the future of medical cannabis unclear and looking grim, Stefano and her husband decided to make the switch to recreational.
“It was either change with the times and transition, or it would be the end of us being able to produce medical-grade cannabis,”
Stefano and her husband partnered with her sister, Cyrena Stefano, and her uncle Cliff Goodman. Goodman founded Seattle Glassblowing Studio where Cyrena Stefano serves as the Director of Operations. The group came together to create Puffin Farms in 2014.
A Clean Green Farm
While the couple had grown almost exclusively indoors with medical, it was important to them to begin growing outdoors for environmental reasons.
“We knew that when we moved forward with a largescale operation we wanted to be environmentally conscious,” Stefano said. “We didn’t want to be generating tons of carbon dioxide emissions and damaging the environment. For the scale that we were looking at in the legal market, growing three-quarters of an acre of weed, that we needed to do that consciously and using the sunlight. And not contribute to global warming, because that’s something that we feel strongly about.”
One of the first things Puffin Farms did as a business, was choose its sun-filled Yakima River location. Stefano thinks sun-growing cannabis will help create a more sustainable cannabis industry.
“Why would you take a plant that grows really well outdoors, that you can get really amazing terpene profiles and really strong really heady product grown outdoors, why would you put a roof over it, block out the sun, and then put artificial sunlight under that, that takes up so much power it’s like a small city?”
Growing cannabis using sunlight is only one of the environmentally-friendly aspects of Puffin Farms. Stefano refers to Puffin Farms’ processes as a ‘regenerative operation.’ The growers at Puffin Farms are constantly building up the soil, and banking carbon in the soil and sequestering carbon from the atmosphere in the plants and soil. Farmers use worm castings, compost, and cover crops o help grow cannabis in place of chemical fertilizers.
Puffin Farms uses beneficial insects instead of pesticides whenever possible. Farmers use organically-certified pesticides during veg when necessary. Natural predators that exist in the farm’s carefully cultivated ecosystem handle pest control during flower. The existing predators who thrive in the natural environment, help keep the pests in check.
Puffin Farms uses some electricity for propagation and processing, and gasoline to transport products. The carbon footprint of the farm is mostly offset by the carbon sequestering that is a natural part of the growing process.
When it comes to the processing portion of Puffin Farms’ operation, the farm is what Stefano refers to as a ‘soil-to-oil’ operation. Soil-to-oil means the flower used to make extract products is almost exclusively grown by Puffin Farms. On rare occasions, Puffin Farms does make extract using flower from other farms, like Lazy Bee Gardens. They carefully vet the farms they partner with on this endeavor.
The extraction methods used by Puffin Farms are in alignment with its sustainable ethos. The expert extractors who make the “extra-virgin flower oil” use CO2 solvent and minimal processing. Its other extracts are solventless. Stefano explains that “good input, makes good output,” meaning, good flower makes good oil.
It’s all About the Plant
Cannabis growers throw around a lot of jargon and hype. Cannabis growers often lose sight of the plant itself in the process. Puffin Farms seems to put the focus back on the farm, and the plant that’s growing there. Like any crop, when tended to by a farmer with deep love and care for their crop, it just grows better.
The folks at Puffin Farms not only love the cannabis plants they grow, but they love the earth that grows them. As time goes on, their commitment to sustainability and environmentalism will likely become just as much of an asset as their high-quality products.