Grower: Golden Leaf
Location: Benton City, Washington
Owner: Ryan Sanderson
How did you get into this industry: “Since I was 18 years old (he’s 40 now) I’ve been a cannabis consumer and a grower,” Sanderson said. “It’s just something I’ve done for my entire life. I feel lucky to have been able to get into the industry.”
Sanderson grew up in Benton City, but moved to California in the late 1990s to grow for that state’s legal medical marijuana system. He returned to his hometown in Washington about eight years later and became a medical grower. And when Washington legalized recreational cannabis, he jumped at the chance to get into the industry, he said.
What sets your farm apart from others: “I’ve been growing on the same site for at least 10 years,” Sanderson said. “We’re doing this as naturally as possible. Natural soil, natural land. We’re not going out and growing in pots. We grow our plants in a natural environment to be as healthy as possible.”
“This is perfect farming country, too,” Sanderson added. “We’re one of the top places in the country for growing hops for beer and grapes for wine. and cannabis is actually closely related to hops. So it’s a perfect location.”
Lighting method: Sunshine! The eastern Washington location gets more than 300 days of sunshine a year, Sanderson said.
Indoor/Outdoor: Outdoor grower, tier 3. (they use about 18,000 square feet of that space, with room to expand).
Pesticides: “We haven’t used any yet,” Sanderson said.
The company is experimenting with trap plants and some other natural options to fight pests, he added.
Soil/Growth medium: Natural soil with a compost mix that includes soil enhancers.
“Our compost mix is all plant material – we don’t use anything with animal waste,” he added. “It’s all-natural.”
Signature strains: Kaia (a Sativa hybrid of Super Silver Haze and OG Kush) and 707 Sour Diesel.
Other strains or products of note: “My other favorite product right now is our CBD-oils,” Sanderson said. “We have some at The Herbery right now. They’re just so well balanced, and it’s a relatively new area for us.”
What would you like to see next as the industry evolves: “I would like to see everybody get a fair shake,” Sanderson said. “Right now I hear some of the larger firms are starting to dominate and buy up many smaller farms. It’s a tough industry to get started in. We’re doing fine, but I’d like to see other small farmers get a chance to join in, and not see it turn into only dominant large farms.”