California’s hundreds of thousands of dabbers, vapers, and hashish flavor-chasers can loosen up about one factor this vacation season. Raw Garden, the state’s main extract model, is concluding a banging 2020 harvest destined for our fingers.

Raw Garden has hand-harvested and fresh-froze over 80 new cultivars throughout 45 acres—literal fields of taste that stretch to the horizon in Santa Barbara County, CA.

Over 200,000 vegetation sit frozen for extraction into “live resin”, that means a lot of sauce for dabs, in addition to refined oil for vape pen cartridges discovered at just about each one of the state’s 600 shops. When we visited in late October, about half the farm sat within the freezer.

“We’re on pace,” mentioned Casey Birthisel, vice chairman of cultivation.

What is Raw Garden?

Just off Highway 101, the four-year-old farm with 100 staff is pulling additional forward on the science of breeding, rising, harvesting, and processing hashish extracts at scale.

Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
(Brian Walker / Courtesy Raw Garden)

Each plant begins in spring with a feminized seed (not a clone) that shoots a vigorous taproot into the soil. A single seed can develop to a seven-foot-tall bush by October. Their chilled seed library has hit 15,000 distinct crosses of new strains and 25 million seeds.

The firm balances farming economics—known as “agronomics”—and the pricey, endless taste chase. Consumers bore rapidly, and the velocity of pressure improvement is accelerating nationwide.

“We’ve re-prioritized aromatics. I care about farmability—but I care about terps.”

Khalid Al-Naser

Co-founder Thomas Martin comes from a farming household, and labored with my tour information, Head of Product Khalid Al-Naser, who comes from making extracts in Sacramento and the pre-legalization medical marijuana business.

He rapidly let me know the phrase of the day is “terps” or terpenes—the aromas of hashish that modulate the excessive.

Then, it was time to enter one other world.

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Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
(Brian Walker / Courtesy Raw Garden)

Welcome to paradise

The dimension of Raw Garden collapses your sense of scale.

Walking ‘just over there’ finally ends up being 1 / 4 of a mile. You want a truck to get round. So far, Raw Garden has launched over 500 hashish cultivars, and the aim is to launch 5 new cultivars, per product every week. Like Pokemon, you gotta catch ‘em all.

Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
(Courtesy Raw Garden)

Raw Garden’s 1-gram Sweet Leeroy Live Resin (which runs about $40) might be the top-selling product on this planet, in line with wholesale market Leaflink.

If you rock a Raw Garden lanyard out on this planet, and your common younger retail gross sales man will shout it out: ’Hey, man—good. Love these guys.’

When adult-use legalization’s testing and taxes hit shoppers in 2018 and 2019, Raw Garden turned legends by reducing their costs 20%. Everyone else raised theirs.

“The appreciation was crazy. The level of gratitude was so immense,” mentioned Khalid.

 “Weed is life to people. They can’t afford it, and the pricing sensitivity is very real.”

—Al-Naser

And whereas it’s inexpensive, Raw Garden can also be medical-grade. No synthetic terpenes or mixing are allowed.

They’ve additionally trademarked the phrase “Your Single Source.” Each hoop home row is devoted to a particular cultivar. Rows are harvested by pressure, and extracted by pressure, that means every batch of oil is strain-specific.

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Everything is bred, grown, harvested, extracted, and packaged in-house. That’s in contrast to many manufacturers that slap their identify on another person’s cartridge, full of some else’s oil, extracted from but another person’s flowers. Vertical integration means high quality management, in addition to value management.

This winter, Raw Garden has new all-in-one disposables aimed toward $20 retail.

 “Weed is life to people. They’re can’t afford it and the pricing sensitivity is very real,” mentioned Al-Naser. “I just don’t think cannabis pricing has normalized. We’re still pricing out a lot of people.”

Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
(Courtesy Raw Garden)

Their price-consciousness doesn’t cease them from assembly individuals on the different finish of the affordability spectrum. They even have pricier merchandise. Their 1-gram carts of strains like WiFi Walker include refined dwell resin.

Refined Live Resin carts use the identical extract discovered within the jars—simply optimized to move in a vape pen. The refinement means the oil is much less prone to chunk up, and style dangerous.

From the primary puff, they hit clear, flavorful, and powerful—excellent for low-profile administration of no matter vexes you. Everything? Great. They’ve acquired vacation flavors to melt the blows together with:

  • Tropic Sunset Hybrid (Cindy Punch x Beary White x Sour Crack)
  • Guava Haze Sativa Hybrid (Chem Haze x Guava Lemonade)
  • Twisted Citrus Sativa Hybrid (Limeberry x Lemon Walker x Cloud Chaser)
  • Cosmic Cookies Indica Hybrid (Do Si Dos x Sour Crack x Chemdawg)
  • Lime Blossom Sativa Hybrid (Slymer x Lilikoi Blossom)
  • Mendo Clouds Indica Hybrid (Skywalker x Mendo Punch)
  • Galactic Punch Indica Hybrid (Galactic Punch – Dosi Punch x Skywalker)

Walking the flavour fields

Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
In the photograph above, rows and rows of Rose end on the department. Let me let you know, if you die and go to terp heaven, you come right here. (David Downs/Leafly)

It’s terp Valhalla—a heady, disorienting, excessive kind of forest remedy. You’re giddy from the contact excessive and sheer visuals of all of the flowering vegetation.

Cultivars within the 2020 fields embody:

  • Super Lemon SMAC
  • Rain Drop
  • Magic Melon
  • Memory Loss
  • Clementine
  • Star Jah
  • Slurricane

On and on the rows go.

“We have a really good Slurricane,” mentioned Khalid.

So, how does Raw Garden give you all its names?

Usually, it’s a nod to parentage and taste.

Whereas Lime OG by no means smelled like limes, “the modern consumer has been exposed to flavoring, they’re expecting it to taste like limes,” Al-Naser mentioned.

Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
(David Downs/Leafly)

“If we’re calling it raspberry this and guava that, it doesn’t have to slap you in the face. But, bare minimum, you have to be able to sit back with your palette and your eyes closed and think back to the time you had guava and go, yeah, yeah, yeah.”

Banana Slurm #8, for instance, is Cherry Slurm and Banana OG.

2019’s best-selling Funk N Fire is Gorilla Glue and Leeroy OG—however they made so much of totally different variations of that successful combo. Their Glueroy clearly leaned extra towards the Glue.

By distinction, “Funk N Fire became the perfect marriage of the two,” mentioned Al-Naser.

Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
(David Downs/Leafly)

The vegetation reek in one of the simplest ways attainable. Raw Garden holds onto the contemporary odor by freezing their total crop and extracting it utilizing mild hydrocarbons.

So-called “fresh frozen live resin” captures the precise aromas of the harvest—the monoterpenes—which can be lengthy gone in conventionally dried hashish. Some 80% of terpenes can get misplaced within the drying course of, however contemporary frozen preserves all of them.

Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
(David Downs/Leafly)

Clean Green-certified to OMRI (natural) requirements, the farm sprays natural foliar feeds and recruits useful bugs like ladybugs and bees to hunt pests. Pest #1?

“Lepidoptera,” mentioned Birthisel, the VP of cultivation, with no hesitation.

Caterpillars.

Moths lay eggs that hatch into grubs, eat, and poop within the heart of the thickest buds, triggering rot. All West Coast growers battle them, and the Raw Garden farm had a 50-cent bounty on every caterpillar at one level.

Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
(David Downs/Leafly)

Why does Raw Garden develop in hoop homes?

The mild diffusion is gentler on the vegetation than direct rays and burns fewer terps. “The hoops just shelter everything in a nice way. It warms up, so you get kind of the greenhouse effect, but you get a lot of open air and the bugs move in and out freely, so it stays a lot healthier.”

Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
(David Downs/Leafly)

It’s the farm’s second harvest of the 12 months as a result of the entire farm by no means comes down abruptly. Plantings are staggered and various by kind.

This 12 months, the farm ran so much of Slymer, now in sixth and seventh era crosses. We couldn’t {photograph} it, however up of their seed library, drawers of seeds in paper separated by cardboard sit refrigerated at nighttime.

It’s a Noah’s Ark of dank and I hope it’s backed up someplace off-site.

The harvesting course of

Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
Head of Product Al-Naser will get sticky within the fields. (David Downs/Leafly)

Raw Garden grows proper within the Buellton soil like some other crop. Farming it combines components of raspberry farming and tomato farming—the ring homes of raspberries; the nitrogen utilization of tomatoes.

The tall skinny rows are spaced to suit the treads of a particular kind of tractor that drives over the rows throughout planting, in addition to throughout natural foliar spraying. And in contrast to most weed gardens, these vegetation should stand on their very own.

“We really try and do as little trellising as possible, even the amount we’re doing to some degree is pretty annoying,” mentioned Al-Naser. Last 12 months’s crops acquired so uniform, Al-Naser acquired nervous.

Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
Experienced eyes will be aware the uneven cover above. This is a late-season hoop of new strains the place the main focus is on variety over consistency.
(David Downs/Leafly)

“We were dialed into the agronomics and then I hit them with, ‘I need more terps! We have got way too many parent plants that are similar, I want to see broader diversity.’”

Out got here seventh-generation strains (“f6s and f7s”), and in got here contemporary ones (“f2s and f3s”). New crosses are much less constant—or “steady—than extra mature breeds.

Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
(Brian Walker / Courtesy Raw Garden)

Despite the size, virtually each leaf on a Raw Garden hashish plant will get plucked by hand. It’s nonetheless medieval. There’s simply no robots that may do the fragile work.

The ripe buds are:

  1. Denuded of giant leaves on the department by hand
  2. Chopped and boxed by hand
  3. Taken by truck to the freezer bay
  4. Moved by forklift to a conveyor belt
  5. Manicured and flash-frozen
  6. Bagged and sealed by hand
  7. Boxed and palleted by hand
  8. And delivered through forklift to storage freezers
Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
(Brian Walker / Courtesy Raw Garden)

Say ‘freeze’

Cameras aren’t allowed within the freezer bay the place ranchero music blares and a beeping forklift backs up pallets of waxed vegetable containers bursting with leafy buds. The terps appear to waft off in seen waves. It’s laborious to focus, it smells so good. You really feel giddy.

The containers get weighed and go onto a trimming line the place shifts of farmworkers quickly clip away waste leaves from bud.

The conveyor belt of buds rumbles right into a car-sized flash-freezer. Guys in thick mitts catch the icy buds off the belt, quickly pack them in heavy-duty plastic, flush with nitrogen, and vacuum-seal for chilly storage till extraction at their manufacturing facility. Every day, an Airgas tanker truck loaded with liquid nitrogen tops off their provide.

Raw Garden’s core product—the oils—are a creature of necessity, Khalid reveals. Farmers have dried hashish for hundreds of years. But drying weed requires 25% of the house of rising it, he mentioned. It’s legally cumbersome to construct drying rooms and logistically difficult to dry. And it could take a month to dry and treatment a harvest.

“At one point the company said, ‘We can’t dry all this weed.’”

Instead, agronomics known as for chopping out the drying step solely, freezing hashish, and extracting and promoting the oil at a better quantity for a decrease margin.

Co-founder and COO of the model, Thomas Martin, had a household historical past in farming and a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Santa Clara University. Co-founder and CEO John Del Friel left a UC San Diego bioengineering program for the chance.

A have a look at Raw Garden’s breeding program

Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
(Brian Walker / Courtesy Raw Garden)

In standard farming, you’ll see rows of constant crops. Cannabis remains to be years away from stabilized seeds, so Raw Garden’s breeding program is on the hunt for terped-out, commercially farmable cultivars.

When their breeding workforce sees one thing particular within the fields, they minimize it, clone it, take a look at it, and breed it for seeds. The subsequent generations reveal fascinating traits, like quicker flowering, in addition to undesirable ones—like attracting pests.

Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
(Brian Walker / Courtesy Raw Garden)

This 12 months, Raw Garden has an enormous Bubba Kush testing part, with a hunch that the classics will come again in model, however most of the strains find yourself getting minimize for one purpose or one other – solely making 1-2% progress.

Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
(Brian Walker / Courtesy Raw Garden)

A extra rapacious firm would plant each sq. inch with the flavors of the season. Instead, Raw Garden runs big R&D fields. They are breeding in a wild kind of hashish known as “ruderalis,” which lends heartiness and faster flowering to high-THC strains.

“We wanted to own that understanding better,” mentioned Al-Naser.

Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
(Brian Walker / Courtesy Raw Garden)

Tech at Raw Garden observe 35 information factors on tester vegetation. In phrases of breeding, outside cultivating at scale, processing, and extraction science, authorized gross sales, and distribution—it’s their race to lose.

“We’ve really been chasing stability for a long time now,” he mentioned.

Raw Garden additionally has an Aroma Training Grounds the place they educate breeding workforce members what stoners imply once they say “gas,” as within the limonene-pinene of OG Kush.

Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
(Brian Walker / Courtesy Raw Garden)

The method Pantone quantifies colours, Raw Garden desires to quantify smells.

“What are we talking about when we say something smells ‘dank’?” asks Khalid. “We’re working to create a vernacular around how we talk about aromas.”

The coaching grounds present benchmark hashish cultivar smells for Blue Dream and OG Kush, recalibrating noses so new workers can exit and determine contemporary analogs within the discipline.

Wrapping up 2020

Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
(David Downs/Leafly)

Under an excellent blue sky, a tractor preps the soil for winter cowl cropping and the 12 months’s subsequent two cycles. Winter cowl crops develop over and get tilled underneath, including nitrogen again together with different useful micronutrients.

The founders picked Buellton, CA in Santa Barbara County for its suitable land, scorching solar, cool nights, and moderating east-west ocean breezes by means of the coastal valleys. Even extra vital: a suitable native authorities.

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Today, county hashish business taxes rival that of vineyards, all on a minuscule fraction of the acreage: simply 2,500 acres.

And when you didn’t already suppose they had been an unimaginable operation, in November, Raw Garden offered 1,300 meals to kids in want through the county’s Food Bank.

Raw Garden harvest photo essay by David Downs at Leafly
(Brian Walker / Courtesy Raw Garden)

Raw Garden FAQs

What pressure is Raw Garden?

Raw Garden has launched over 500 strains, together with 80 this harvest 12 months.

Are Raw Garden carts good?

They cross California’s strictest on this planet class three testing commonplace for purity and label accuracy. They are constantly among the many best-selling manufacturers of their class since 2018.

How are you able to inform if a Raw Garden cart is actual?

Raw Garden counterfeiting is rampant within the illicit market, and the package deal will idiot most individuals. Get one from a legit supply. Buy solely from a licensed California dispensary. You can verify licensing here.

Leafly solely lists licensed dispensaries. Do not purchase from a buddy or member of the family who ‘knows a guy who bought them in a dispensary’, or on-line. You don’t know what’s within the cart, and there are a lot of vape contaminants which have induced everlasting damage.

What firm owns Raw Garden?

Raw Garden is included as Central Coast Agriculture Farming, LLC.

David Downs's Bio Image

David Downs

David Downs directs information and life-style protection because the California Bureau Chief for Leafly.com. He’s written for WIRED, Rolling Stone and Billboard, and is the previous hashish editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, in addition to the writer of a number of hashish books together with ‘Marijuana Harvest’ by Ed Rosenthal and David Downs. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. TW: @davidrdowns | IG @daviddowns

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