Hawaii can proudly tout itself as a geographic destination synonymous with a long-standing cannabis culture. But for Big Island Grown (BIG), a legacy of growing crops goes well beyond pot.
“Big Island Grown has a deep history rooted in agriculture,” says co-founder and CEO Jaclyn Moore. “The location of our production center was once home to sugarcane, evolved into the largest banana farm in North America, and is now home to our state-of-the-art cannabis facility. The farming styles have evolved as we’re much more conscious of the land and the community that we serve and work within. We aim to revive a farming community that will last for generations to come.”
BIG’s agricultural background earned them a license as a manufacturer and dispensary on the Big Island of Hawaii, hence the name.
As a vertically integrated company, Moore and co-founder Dylan Shropshire had to become experts across a wide range of operations, with a current team of pharmacists, farmers, artists, caregivers and coders, many of whom are also patients. They believe that the team’s collective passion for both plant and patient results in the highest-grade cannabis and patient service that can be found anywhere in Hawaii, and possibly beyond, at an accessible price.
“With the long history of cannabis cultivation on the Island, our team works tirelessly to showcase the best of local genetics, and elevate the breeders, artists, farmers and local businesses that contribute to Big Island’s cannabis culture,” Moore says.
BIG now has three shops throughout the island in Kona, Hilo and Waimea.
“It doesn’t take long before staff knows you by name; recall your product preferences and provide the scoops on product drops based on the effects you seek,” Moore says.
Much like our team, our patients quickly become an integral part of our ohana (family), and we rely on their very honest and quick feedback. Big Island regulars genuinely know quality and are quite vocal about it.
The company’s Patient Attendants (commonly known as budtenders) are integral to supporting BIG’s company pillars of education and customer service. They educate patients on new strains, formulations, tech and even the team members behind the products they love.
“Patient Attendants, as we call them, are very compassionate, patient-focused individuals,” Moore says. “They’re committed to nurturing relationships with those they encounter daily.
The triumvirate of dispensaries is also matched by an impressive 35,000-square-foot growing facility, all of which is environmentally controlled to cultivate high-quality indoor flower. Although Hawaii is known to grow remarkable outdoor cannabis with its long solar window and abundance of fresh water, BIG’s indoor grow all but guarantees safety from humidity, bouts of severe weather and even the occasional volcanic eruption.
They’re also currently in the process of expanding the facility in preparation for adult-use cannabis, which will include an additional 9,000 square feet of flower, larger processing area and a commercial kitchen.
BIG’s growing methods are equally as impressive, utilizing a potting system that yields zero waste when washing and recycling, all while creating zero disturbance to the root systems during transplanting. All of their water supply comes from a volcanic spring, which is fed from a plantation-constructed water reservoir.
“Our team is made of many who were born and/or raised in Hawaii with generations of Hawaii cannabis cultivation experience,” Shropshire says. “Growing on the most desolate chain of islands in the world creates a series of challenges that places sustainability at the forefront of all decision making.”
With an energy cost in Hawaii that’s by far the most expensive in the country at more than 40 cents a kilowatt hour, BIG works to offset this hurdle with a rooftop of nearly 700 solar panels.
“We ultimately decided on Fohse [lights] because of their attention to detail and how they’re pushing innovation in the space,” Shropshire says. “They’re the highest quality LED grow lights in the industry in our opinion. They also are constantly working with growers in collaboration to improve their products. With the extremely high energy costs in Hawaii, we have to be as efficient as possible when selecting lights and we believe Fohse is the best of the best.”
This story was originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.