Living the Dream: Shawn DeNae

Shawn DeNae

Washington Bud Company

Snohomish, Washington

This spring we made the decision to open our grow buildings to educational tours for all our retail partners and their staff. I heard over and over how few gardens, if any, the budtenders see, and I think it is important for them to “take time to smell the flowers” and better understand the process.

We grow in 16-week cycles between two flower rooms, which allows us to harvest every four weeks. That schedule has been constant for more than five years so I can look at the calendar and schedule these tours right before each harvest.

Before we take them into the flower rooms, we walk them through the processing area so they understand all the steps it takes to turn a 5-pound lot into hundreds of 1- to 28-gram packages. We show them how the hand-trimming stations collect the fallen trichomes on glass beneath a 110-micron silk screen. They see how the weighing and placement of the buds takes place and watch the bags slide through the heat-sealing machine. 

We even open the bulk bags and let them draw in an aromatic blast of terpenes before heading into the veg room to run them through our beneficial bug program. Describing how each bug attacks its victims is like something out of science fiction: nematodes get ingested by gnats and blow them up from within; cucumeris mites attack thrips and bite their heads off when they peek out of their leaf tunnels; the Dalotia roams the soil and eats anything moving; and the androconia is the grim reaper of the dreaded spider mite, the bane of any cannabis garden. One cool aspect is these beneficials turn cannibal and eat themselves if they do not find plant-eating bugs. It’s an economical way to grow and beats all other methods, including organic sprays that adversely affect the plant’s taste.

Finally, we open the flower rooms and watch the aroma hit the olfactory senses. Eyes pop and heads swoon as they walk among the heavy-hanging colas. We place ladders around the grow and encourage our visitors to take photos of the canopy. They slip on gloves and can touch the sticky buds and smell a concentrated release of terpenes. We spend a lot of time in the flower rooms pointing out the differences in each strain: how some leaves turn burgundy near harvest while others go golden against the various shades of green. It’s a really beautiful scene.

It’s happy work for our crew and we look forward to every fourth Friday at the farm.

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