The founder and CEO of Rosebud Farms, Che Leblanc, is looking beyond the organic label and saw the opportunity to create the highest-quality cannabis in the Central Kootneys, B.C., Canada. Che draws from a wealth of knowledge, his mother is a herbologist, and father a holistic cannabis farmer. A certified permaculturalist with over 26 years of experience, he has spent the last ten years educating himself in regenerative agriculture techniques on the idyllic lake-side Rosebud Farm property. He has researched and developed different genetics, production methods and is a leader in this space.
We’re growing by mimicking natural systems in our environment
At Rosebud, production methods are about harmonizing with natural systems to reduce energy and input costs, which in turn will create higher profit margins and demonstrate regenerative practices.
According to Che, cannabis is one of the best bio-accumulators, which means it mines minerals and brings them very efficiently into the leaf matter. “The problem with synthetic fertilizers is that unnatural chemical nutrients end up in the leaf matter. Consequently, what we’re seeing in conventional cannabis production is necessary flushing out the soils and the build-up of these chemicals. This is particularly important to the medical community, and unfortunately, in many cases, the soil doesn’t get flushed properly which can result in a product that is unhealthy. What we’re doing is moving ‘beyond organic’ and using zero synthetics of any kind – no chemicals fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. We’re focussing on natural systems, mimicking our natural environment.
If you look out into a healthy forest, you’ll see a polyculture; a diversity of all different plants and animal life and they all work symbiotically together to support each other on many different levels. That’s why we don’t see many problems in nature, there’s a balance. It’s when we start to try and produce mono-crops, which is something you don’t find in nature, it takes a large amount of energy to sustain. By planting with a diverse combination of supporting plants and animals, including predator insects and nitrogen fixers, we are able to keep natures balance and produce a high-quality low input crop.
Intention to move beyond carbon neutral
Rosebud’s location is off-grid, a criteria that was important to Che when looking for a property. “Technologies have advanced so far and I saw it as an opportunity to utilize modern, well-proven, technology and produce our own clean energy on-site which also aligns with our low-impact, sustainable approach and further reduces our production costs. We worked with an energy consultant who identified options for the future; a combination of solar panels and a biomass unit to meet the location’s energy requirements. Biomass, including waste wood from the nearby lumber industry, would be captured by the unit and converted into electricity to be used for facility heating and electric power generation needs in the winter. The biomass unit would also capture the CO2 produced from the unit and pump it back into the greenhouses to promote plant growth. Hot water, another byproduct produced from the unit, would then heat the greenhouses and nursery – all off the grid”.
Quality acclimatized genetics
According to Che, outdoor cultivation in Canada can be difficult due to the colder climate in winter and genetics not developing in time. With less energy from the sun and lower temperatures, crops become at risk from pathogens such as mildew and mould.
Rosebud is leading the industry by breeding strains designed for the outdoor northern climate. “By reducing the harvest time we are dramatically increasing the quality of the product and reducing the risk associated with late fall harvests. We also have over 450 cultivars gathered locally, internationally and uniquely developed here at Rosebud Farms. Rosebud Farms is a different type of company, we’re not trying to compete with the big guys, we’re really about using earth-ethics and sustainable techniques to create low-energy, high-yield, premium craft-market products”.