I was out driving around delivering joints the other day, as a person does. It’s a fine and upstanding profession and I’m glad for it.
That’s not to say it’s without its hazards, however. You see, I suffer from an acute handicap – let’s call it Dank Acquisition Syndrome (DAS: you heard it here first) – and here and there the challenges of being in this line of work get very, very real.
Most dispensaries you go into buy their flower based on THC percentage and how cheap they can get it both in and out the door and not much else. Which makes sense: there’s plenty of Neanderthals out there who just want to walk in and stare vapidly into some brain-numbing “WEED TV” video display before shuffling up to the next available budtender to mumble “What’s yer highest percent five-dollar gram sativa?”, to which the sullen lummox behind the counter invariably grabs the closest jar and responds “Ohh, this is TOOOOOOTALLY the best one.”
But hey, that’s not you, right? ‘Course not. You’re a decent, actual person. You know good Cannabis. You seek out relevant and well-informed publications on the subject. When you buy weed your first question is “Who grew it?”. You understand that using terms like sativa and indica to describe what you’re after is kind of like gushing about this sweet new band you heard the other day called Limp Bizkit. Above all you’re fully aware that buying weed because it tests high in THC is about as effective at getting you more stoned as injecting bleach will be at keeping you Coronavirus free. And if you start getting these descriptors from a budtender in a particular spot you breathe a sigh of relief because you know “Well, at least I’m not gonna spend much money in here.”
This is why I’m here to warn you about Moss Crossing in Eugene, Oregon. Y’see, beyond being Oregon’s most prominent college town Eugene has a shall we say GREATER THAN AVERAGE affinity for Cannabis: during the sixties the really serious radicals that had to flee San Francisco and the law largely settled here. The Oregon Country Fair and its 50-year saga of early Grateful Dead history and iconic countercultural psychedelia call this valley home. The dream of a dispensary on every corner is a crystalline and actualized reality here and as such the competition shop to shop is fierce.
It’s not lightly, then, that I say Moss Crossing has the finest selection of Cannabis in all of Eugene. There are some absolutely standout shops in the area and several that are clearly the best at what they specialize in, be it glass or dabs or art or trippy murals or excellent kooky movie props or whathaveyou. But my breathing gets short and fluttery when I turn into the parking lot here because I KNOW they’re gonna have some herb that I just can’t live my fucking life without buying.
So like I was saying: I was out delivering joints. Sunny day, mellow heat, nothing to worry about. Except I had to stop into Moss Crossing next. And I had just gotten paid. “Oh Fuck,” thought I.
I was going over the day’s delivery and talking with their main man Jamie and brushing my gaze over the wall of glass jars, no big deal, I’m a rational adult and I can handle myself, I’ve got plenty of headstash to work through right now, that sort of thing. There was a feeble noise that I slowly realized to my horror was coming from my throat. It came blurting and stuttering out, almost subconsciously, before I could stop it from happening: “Sooo, what’re you liking for flower these days?”
There was zero hesitation. Jamie strode past the wall to a jar on a very high shelf separate from everything else. I swear the other budtenders joined into a Greek chorus of “Ohhh, yeah” behind him as if my discretionary spending for the week was now convicted, sentenced, and about to meet its hangman.
He got the jar down, popped it open. From a socially distant six feet, it was the kind of nose that cuts through the face mask your mom made from the bathroom curtains of your childhood. “This is from Flowersmith,” he said. I hadn’t heard of them before. The questions began.
And that’s how I met Bella the goat.
Flowersmith’s farm is a short drive outside of town, nestled amidst some of the most idyllic countryside farmland to be found anywhere. As you drive out through pastures and fruit stands and The Most Expensive Goldfish in America (that’s this whole other thing, pay no mind) it’s truly difficult not to feel your day grow lighter by the mile.
I was lucky enough to make that drive this past week, sit down with the four-person crew behind Flowersmith and chat with them about what they do.
The first thing that happens when their fence swings open is the goats. There’s a small herd of them, they make it clear that you can’t drive any further onto the property without paying some respects to their extended clan of mommas and kids. From here on I’ll remember to bring some carrots or something; they made it extremely clear that they’d have some of what I was having and for this day I just didn’t think beef jerky would achieve the sort of namaste I wished to impart. Next time, guys…anyhow the queen of this tribe is Bella and she’s incredible and here’s a picture of her.
The grow itself is modest in scope – a 25-light room, light-assisted dep greenhouse, and two smaller 12 light rooms – and HUGE on flavor. A lot of grows have that sterile bleach vibe when you approach the flower room; although extremely clean there was NO hiding these terps.
There are two primary things that really jump out at me about this grow and talking with its crew that I think are important to mention from the outset:
-Firstly they’re some of the most decidedly honest growers I’ve ever met. It’s super rare to encounter people in this field who fully own the challenges that all growers face and talk about it, not just how they dealt with them in the past tense but how they’re working through them currently. There were three empty rows in their flowering room, they explained that the cultivar they were running there simply wasn’t up to their par. This speaks volumes to me: beyond the monetary reality that sort of commitment implies, for all the buzzwords and flashy nug shots on IG these days real Tegridy’s often a lot less common a phenomenon than we collectively admit as an industry.
-Secondly – and I can’t stress this part enough – for all the challenges they opened up about, their garden’s plants were unbelievably, almost preternaturally healthy. It’s truly spooky to see multiple flawless rooms of plants, verdant emerald fan leaves, bright neon prayer clusters shooting directly skyward from vigorous branches, not wilt nor spot to be found. The immaculate attention to detail in this grow is stunning. Anybody who can roll with the punches in this fashion has earned their stripes, and then some.
We had a great talk. Here are some highlights.
D: So! What drew you into growing Cannabis?
FS: Well: we started in small scale vegetable farming and food. In that world, if you’re not owning a farm, you’re not really making any money (laughs all around). So we moved into Cannabis, and kind of got fast-tracked into medical. Gavin was working in grow shops for…four and a half years? Gavin: Yeah, I was working in grow shops since high school. Started growing in my closet in my parent’s house, did the guerilla outdoor scene, got caught when I was 17, caught a nice little manufacturing charge. That was my senior year of high school, I I got the job in the grow shop, turned eighteen, and became a medical grower. Went from being a one-lighter to a four lighter then a warehouse then moved here and got a job at a grow shop in Eugene. We got together, started doing our own thing independently, it all happened pretty quickly from there. Essentially it’s like we tripped and never quite landed fully on our face. (laughter all around)
D: I like the fact that the market seems to be getting more decentralized. Like, a lot of the larger players that had out-of-state investors are either going away or the quality that they’re willing to put in money and time-wise seems to be going down.
FS: Well, yeah. Everybody thought it was going to be like the gold rush and they’d all get money quick, and the investors got in and thought they were going to make a million dollars a year, and then three years down the road they’re still paying out of pocket. But that’s the benefit of, you know, we started our company with like 20 grand and built all this shit ourselves, and did all the licensing ourselves, and we were…23? (laughs) Also the fact that we were working at the grow store, a lot of people who knew what they were doing were willing to help us out. They knew we had no money, we were just honest with people, but we got a lot of respect too because we were the guys who never signed a contract.
D: So, what kind of growing method are you running? What works? Do you determine by strain, or…
FS: We’ve actually been transitioning lately. We went completely no-till, used the same soil, for two years. In the last six months, we had some issues, got new soil, now we’re working back into that system. We’re reamending with rigorously tested composts and mulch and worms, of course. Overall, you have to treat the soil like it’s your bread and butter. There’s a system in place, and we pick strains that work within the system. What works for us we grow, what doesn’t, you know…I mean, you saw three empty beds in our flower room.
D: That’s…a BIG commitment, for sure. So do you pheno hunt everything you grow from seed?
FS: As much as we can. Nowadays we try to pheno hunt everything we run because we know what we’re going to get firsthand, rather than back in the day where it was “Hey, the homie has this really great cut,” and running the chance of beans and nanners. It seems like the strains we pheno hunt are going to be much more stable and the cuts we get from other people there’s maybe a 20 percent chance we’re going to have issues with it. Which seems sort of obvious, I mean: if you start a seed in your grow system there’s no adjustment period for that plant as there would be with cuts from outside.
D: Okay. So, what’s your process for curing and storage?
FS: We usually hang dry for two weeks at least, in 60 [degrees] and 60 [humidity], then the trimmers go through it, then into buckets, just try to keep it cold for as long as possible.
D: I know we mentioned it earlier but do you guys want to talk about THC testing, how it affects saleability in the market?
FS: (About a minute of laughs and “ahh fuck, here we go” type comments) I mean, do you want us to just start yelling? (more laughter) As far as doing sales, it’s hilarious. We’ve got the Banana Sundae but we’ve also got the Lava Cake, which is notorious for us for being anywhere between 14 and…we just got our highest result at 17.99%. So it’s funny that that strain at 17.99%, versus if it was 18%…that would MOVE. But now that it’s 17 percent, or anywhere under that, a lot of people just aren’t willing to put it on their shelves. Also due to Coronavirus, people are just number hunting online before they go in (editor’s note: in the post-COVID-19 marketplace it’s now illegal for customers to smell or get close to flower in dispensaries before they buy). And at this point, what else does the consumer have to go off of? They have two numbers, THC and terpenes, and that’s it. And terpenes, that helps for the heads, but for the average consumer not as much. And the position we’re put in is that we could go to this lab and get three percent less THC on every strain and probably double the terpene content, or we could go to another lab and get that extra three percent which makes our flower sellable but the terpene percentage is lower. So it’s like, what do you have to say? None of these labs, there’s no consistency, and we as business owners have to just say, “Fuck, I guess we’ll just have to go with the lab that gives us the highest THC percentage.” And it should be, “Can you smell it? Is it loud, are you excited?” Then it’s probably high terpene. Also, terpenes are volatile, and if you buy something that tested at 5% terps, there’s no way it’s going to be exactly the same after it’s sat on a shelf for two weeks under incandescent lighting.
So, there’s some terroir for you. And now, onto the flower.
Structure: Uniform buds an inch or two long, respectable stem-to-bud ratio. The plants are well lollipopped and the finished harvest definitely speaks to this, primarily a sea of tops with equal access to light. Lime green with streaks of anthocyanin pushing through.
Cure: Crispy stems, fairly dense but springy and breaks apart easily. Definitely loud as all fuck on the nose but we’ll get there in a sec, leading into…
Nose: Banana Runts, rubber cement, a bit of orange zest. Not mind-bendingly complex, but as stated: LOUD. I don’t have the vocabulary to convey the intensity. There are only a couple things I’ve found this year that push this hard.
Palate: Banana peel, necco wafers, little bit of sage, and deep, rich earthy undertones. Friggin luxurious as all get-out.
Effects: This…THIS is where this cut skyrockets into being one of my all-time favorites. It’s one of the big reasons I’ve not been able to write this article for so long: practically every situation I’ve put it to has been made better in ways I’m still floored by.
From the very first hit, it imparts calmness, centered thought, and perfect mental clarity. Not drowsiness by any means, just…an overall sense of well being. I went to the convenience store and conversed with the clerk without being terrified. I took out the bass and charged on some new arpeggios and they flowed like they hadn’t before. For lack of a propensity for stating things delicately: The lady and I cleared our schedule for the evening and it was hours and hours of orgasms and orgasms. I woke up on three hours’ sleep, had half a bowl and work went just fine after that. This went on for weeks. I had to buy more. More than once.
I’ve taken it biking, hiking, laughing, and crying. Over the last batshit crazyass chunk of American timeline since I first came across this it’s seen me through moving across town, a capsized boat, two new phones, and scenic vistas across the Pacific Northwest.
Last week, en route to the protests in downtown Portland, I stopped on the Burnside bridge and found it amongst my retinue. There were helicopters circling, the tear gas was already wafting across the river, the echoes of the flashbangs punctuated the usual city buzz. Things were growing increasingly tense with the arrival of federal officers and their violence towards our community. I wanted to be calm but not fuzzy and I’m thankful beyond words I had a jar of the best Cannabis I could think of for the occasion.
There came a moment when the feds were sick of the inaction (large chunks of time at these events is a lot less exciting than the national news media might have you believe), and they advanced on us. I’m generally kind of a loudmouthed hothead – we native New Yorkers are certainly a handful and you can ask anyone about that. All the same, I had been thinking this moment through, calmly, for the last hour. These were kids once, just like me. We grew up with a favorite sports team and a cartoon and people we cared about and who cared about us. The officer nearest to me turned, focused. I saw the same fear in his eyes that many of the protesters carried. For better or worse I addressed him calmly and rationally in a manner I’m not sure I could have otherwise and for that, I’ll always be deeply thankful.
And now I’m almost out, and the precious last few buds I’ve retained are falling victim to age and CBN conversion and I should probably just fire it all off in one big blaze of glory, but I just can’t bring myself to until I grab some more, again. In today’s market: that’s the highest praise a person can give, I think.
Hope you’re having a fantastic day! Talk soon…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dick Fitts is some newbie clown who started taking dabs recently and now he thinks he’s hot shit. He for sure hasn’t been growing as long as you and probably spends his free time raving about his favorite hotdog water carts to all his old frat bros from that expensive state college you hate. I’ll bet he’s middlemanning some fucking cockjob hemp biomass deal right now as we speak. When it’s done him and the other 34 Chads involved will probably don their male rompers and head down to the nearest upscale tiki bar for low carb mojitos and shitty fucking cigars they don’t even know how to smoke properly. Boy he pisses me off. Fuck him. (bio written by Dick Fitts)