And in this ultra competitive marketplace, the folks at Oregon’s Phantom Farms have made waves.
Phantom Farms was first founded in 2008. CEO Sky Pinnick said that since then, the farm’s reputation for high-quality buds has expanded their market reach so that their cannabis is now being distributed in 50 recreational dispensaries across the Beaver State.
“We started as a small medical grow — super patient specific,” he said. “We still have patients, some of them still with us nine years later.”
Pinnick said back then, Phantom Farms was a lot smaller due to the regulatory limitations of the medical system.
“The licenses were plant count-based,” he said. “You could only produce so much with each license.”
Like many other migrants to the Oregon cannabis industry, Pinnick was brought in by chance to help his friends acquire the land that would become Phantom Farms’ first grow.
“My buddies were the ones with experience, my background is in the movie business,” Pinnick said. “I was surfing in Nicaragua and they hit me up about getting some help acquiring a property. Now my brother is involved.”
It quickly turned into a family business, with his sister Noelle also getting involved as branding director — Pinnick and his sister have done branding and marketing work for companies all over the world.
He said it’s a great advantage to have a family so well-equipped to handle the business.
“[It’s exciting] to parlay these skill sets into something we can control, instead of helping some big name brand get some market exposure,” he said.
Pinnick isn’t just helping his family. The size of the operations taking place at Phantom Farms is massive, and requires the kind of workforce one would expect of a major outdoor cultivation facility.
Phantom Farms currently employs 73 people through the harvest season to cope with the workload; 23 of those people alone are trimmers, manicuring the top shelf buds to perfection before they hit dispensary shelves. Those numbers can be expected to rise in 2017 as Phantom expands its operation.
Those areas of planned expansion include a new extract facility to produce fresh frozen, bud-run CO2 oil to fill cartridges, which had previously been handled via collabs and white label oil processors.
Phantom’s new state-of-the-art indoor cultivation facility is also set to launch this summer. It was built to be top-of-the-line, without leaving Phantom’s environmental ideals behind: the facility will employ an all-LED lighting system to limit their environmental impact.
One of the factors that has put Phantom Farms’ meds over the top in terms of quality is the permaculture growing style they use. By utilizing natural fertilizers like compost teas and growing dynamic accumulators — which can be used to detoxify soil or collect nutrients — as companion plants, Phantom is able to produce trichome-soaked buds without any synthetic chemicals. Creating these ecosystems in the soil provide amazing nutrition for the plants to thrive in, all while avoiding the use of the harsh chemicals being pushed further away by industry regulation.
Phantom had been seed-heavy in the past, leading to numerous phenotypes of the same strain. This year they’re working more with cuts to get a much higher level of consistency through the whole crop.
Chief Cultivator and Owner Eddie Funtanellas provides the firepower that’s helped put Phantom on the map. He got his start growing in Santa Rosa, California, which is now a pot boomtown.
Unfortunately, he said his grandmother wasn’t enthusiastic about his new-found hobby.
“My grandmother chopped [my plants] down,” he said. “I ended up building these tree house things and putting 20 gallon pots up in the canopy where she couldn’t get to them.”
We asked Funtanellas what the crown jewels of his genetics collection are. After five years of breeding, he said he’s got it narrowed down to one.
“I’ve been working on this Cascade Lemonade for years,” he said.
The Super Lemon Haze x Lemon Dream cross is terpalicious. Funtanellas sourced Arjan’s Super Lemon Haze seeds himself and, even though he only got a few, he lucked out and found a winner.
The change over to the recreational side was not a small one. Funtanellas was forced to size up his skill set to produce far more cannabis than he had in the past for the commercial market — he says the stress was intense.
“I’ve never balded so fast in nine months,” he said.
TELL US, have you ever tried to grow your own cannabis?