Extracted Episode 15: Growing Organic with David Bernard-Perron

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At Valens, we’re proud to be organically certified for cannabis oil production. This gives us the ability to produce organic oil from hemp and cannabis biomass for our partners. Of course, it starts with cultivating high quality, certified organic flower. In our latest episode of the Extracted Podcast, we connected with David Bernard-Perron of The Green Organic Dutchman (TGOD) to talk about the challenges and benefits of organic cultivation.

David is the Vice President of Growing Operations at TGOD. He was formerly the Agrologist at Whistler Medical Marijuana Corporation, and holds a Masters in Plant Sciences from McGill University. Needless to say, he is a brilliant source of knowledge when it comes to growing organic cannabis. We were fortunate to get David’s insights on the importance of organic cannabis and why it will be a key part of the industry’s future.

Organic beginnings.

From an early age, David has always taken a keen interest in farming, applied science, and agriculture. He got his start working at a poinsettia greenhouse in his teens before focusing on organic cranberry production during his Masters. Fast forward to today, where David is recognized as a pioneer in organic cannabis cultivation, and is responsible for the output of Canada’s largest organic cannabis producer.

What it takes to get certified.

TGOD is certified organic under Pro-Cert, one of North America’s most regarded organic certification bodies. Taking their sustainable commitment a step further, TGOD has received additional certifications from EcoCert Canada and LEED.

Compared to conventional growing, becoming organically certified in Canada adds layers of complexity. Organic producers like TGOD are required to be compliant with a number of additional standards. David says the key difference involves adhering to the permitted substance list which includes having no chemically modified inputs in the grow. At TGOD, they use “living soil” and a “natural soil food web” to create a sustainable, beneficial system for growth. David indicates that the next challenge will be to do this on a large scale, specifically the largest scale in the world.

Organic cultivation on a massive scale.

If organic growing wasn’t already complex enough, TGOD has bold aspirations to build the world’s largest organic greenhouse in Valleyfield, Quebec. The new facility will be 1.3 million square feet to be exact, and David describes it as, “basically an indoor garden with a glass roof,” which offers “as much control as an indoor garden and the benefits of sun.” The challenges TGOD is working through to make this project a reality involve incorporating a high-level of automation and ensuring specific volumes of soil per surface area. Thankfully, TGOD has a team of engineers and scientists like David to make sure everything goes according to plan.

“It’s very exciting to bring the plants back under the sun.”

The benefits of living soil and sun.

By growing organically, David highlights that “We really put the plant in charge.” His team builds soils with a reserve of nutrients and creates a web of beneficial bacteria, fungi, insects, and micro and macro organisms that continuously deliver nutrients to the plants. He describes it as an “elegant built-in feedback loop.” David says this system works together to build up the plant’s immune system and defense mechanisms, which in turn, produces more terpenes, THC, CBD and secondary metabolites.

“When we grow through a well-designed organic system, we see an increase in quality.”

Beyond the natural rewards of growing organic, David believes there are undeniable benefits of growing under natural sunlight. He notes that when cannabis is exposed to the sun, it “starts to produce more THC and more trichomes to be able to deal with a higher level of sunlight.” David believes this ultimately results in a higher quality flower and extracted end products.

“Organic, living soil, sun-grown cannabis really helps to maximize the genetic potential of the plants.”

Building an organic future.

David certainly sees a bright future for organic cultivation and is confident there will be a demand for organic flower. On the recreational side, he likens it to the shortage in the organic food market or the demand for organic wine. From a medical standpoint, David says there will always be those who want to “have access to clean organic medicine.”

TGOD has been instrumental in helping Valens to achieve our organic certification, and we’re excited to be able to deliver high-end organic extracted products as part of our future together.

“How do you make everything awesome all at once without compromising?”

Find out more about organic cultivation by listening to the full episode. And find out why David believes cannabis is the most exciting of all plants.