Admin; downsize this version for your own backyard.
Weed greenhouses are so hot right now
They’re cost-effective, eco-friendly, and produce mass quantities of chronic
- By Lessley Anderson
- on April 19, 2014 12:00 pm
- Don’t miss stories follow The Verge
RiverRock is a marijuana company in Denver, CO, that was founded in 2009 by an enterprising medical malpractice attorney some four years before recreational weed become legal in the state. Today, RiverRock operates two dispensaries, grows its own, and makes edibles, extracts, and concentrates. It used to cultivate all its cannabis indoors — a quantity John Kocer, RiverRock’s CEO, wouldn’t specify, but says comprises between 3 percent to 5 percent of the state’s $14 million monthly weed market.
A year and a half ago, the company shifted a large portion of its grow operations to a 27,000-square-foot greenhouse. In simple terms, a greenhouse is an outdoor, semipermanent structure with translucent ceilings and walls, through which light can filter. It’s the same kind of thing that conventional farmers use to grow flowers and vegetables. RiverRock’s is particularly state-of-the-art, with automated humidity and temperature controls and a special blackout system that can create pitch-dark conditions in the middle of a summer evening.
Pitch-dark conditions in the middle of a summer evening
The fact that RiverRock is using a greenhouse to grow pot may not seem that extraordinary, until you realize that until recently, most marijuana was grown indoors to stay hidden from view. But in a monumental shift in the cannabis industry, that’s about to change.
“This is the trend for the future,” Kocer says. “We’re the only industry on the planet that grows indoor under light. Tomatoes, flowers, you name it, people don’t grow indoors.”
And there’s good reason other industries don’t: it’s expensive to grow indoors, where powerful artificial lights — and massive air-conditioning systems used to counteract the heat from said lights — require massive amounts of energy. By harnessing the free power of the sun, growers can save as much as 90 percent on their electricity bills. RiverRock’s monthly electricity bill is $25,000 a month, only $2500 of which is used in its greenhouse, versus its residual indoor grow operations which run up the bulk of that bill.
Not surprisingly, RiverRock isn’t the only cannabis grower going “green.” In Colorado, industry consultants and greenhouse suppliers estimate there are 10 marijuana greenhouse operations of similar scale to RiverRock’s, with several even larger ones in development. RiverRock has plans to triple its greenhouse capacity in the coming months, which will double its weed production. (Although Washington state also recently legalized marijuana, Colorado has progressed much more quickly in setting up its legal cannabis marketplace.)
Until now, high-grade pot was almost exclusively grown indoors. “The reason why indoor cultivation became the cultivation technology of choice was because this was illegal for so long and indoor is easier to hide,” says Kris Krane, a consultant for the marijuana industry who also runs an incubator for startup cannabis companies.
Patient, “Wade”, inside RiverRock’s greenhouse (RiverRock).
Now, even though pot is still federally prohibited, Washington and Colorado have fully legalized it, and 20 other states (and DC) have approved it for medical use. If Colorado is an example, a regulated, legal pot marketplace will mean growers are less concerned about shielding their plants from view, and more motivated to explore cost saving opportunities. Continue reading