Can the Small Local Farmer Thrive in Today's Legal Industry?
In 2018, California cannabis retail stores sold $2.5 billion of cannabis products. That’s a lot of cannabis! With numbers that big, you can bet your bottom dollar large corporate companies will want their share. The California cannabis market is vast and growing. The market is expected to reach $7.7 billion by 2022, and more cannabis will be needed to supply the increasing amount of consumers. While an increase in demand will necessitate a more abundant supply, it puts increased pressure on farmers to provide large batch amounts. Fewer transactions for distributors means less time and money spent on obtaining products. They are looking for suppliers that have hundreds, even thousands, of pounds to sell at a time. So how can the small farmer, one with 10,000 sqft or less of cultivation space, expect to supply enough to make the distributor’s time worthwhile?
Cannabis cooperatives have offered a solution for these farmers. By banding together, they have created a way to share the market space. Groups of three or more farms can market their products jointly, maintaining a more extensive bulk menu than they could create on their own. Cooperatives also share the same vision and values, so a distributor purchasing from the cooperative can be sure that all the products grown from the various farms yield the same integrity. For example, all of the Hive Mendicino farms have been certified Simply Clean by The Cannabis Conservancy. This certification demonstrates the sustainable efforts seen across our entire group of Mendocino cannabis farms. We also all cultivate organically, therefore, a buyer can be confident that products purchased from any of the sister farms are grown with the same strict standards.
Marketing the finished product is only one important aspect of a small farmer’s business. While more extensive operations may have additional funds they can tap into to purchase supplies in bulk, we individually can order only as much as our farm needs at any given time. However, we’ve found a creative solution to save us all money in the long-run. By joining together as a California agricultural cooperative, we can order our supplies in bulk for all of the farms. We then share the costs and save ourselves money.
We also have a tool in our back pocket that the larger farmers don’t — idea-sharing. Our group of farmers in the Hive has over 100 years of cultivation experience combined! We’ve seen numerous harvests, controlled many pests, lived through years of environmental fluctuations, and used various growing mediums. We have knowledge that spans over a lifetime, and we can share that with the members of our group. Having this collection of knowledge protects us from making some mistakes that a single grower may have to learn from firsthand experience. We have a support system to turn to that often has answers, or can at least provide a step in the right direction. This bouncing of ideas reduces the number of mistakes made, mistakes that weaken the final output of our whole crop. Loss of pounds, sometimes even hundreds at a time, can come from lack of experience. We have dramatically reduced the chances of a detrimental crop loss by combining all of our work experience into one collective repository of information.
If you are interested in joining a cannabis cooperative, there are a few ways to find potential members. You can join an existing co-op, or you could create your own. On one of our member’s blogs, there is a two-part post, "A Quick Guide To Forming Your Own Cannabis Cooperative in California,” that covers the basics to get you started. But if you are looking to join an already established cooperative, attending local farmer meetups, distribution mixers, and networking events will put you face-to-face with some potential partners. Typically a location-based Google search will give you an idea of what events are happening around you, but if you’re interested in becoming a member of our cooperative, please take a look at our “Members” page, and reach out to us if you have any questions.
If you’d like to learn more about Hive Mendocino, check out our “About” page. If you are a buyer looking to purchase bulk cannabis grown organically, sustainably, and with great attention to detail, please complete a “Wholesale Account” form and we will get in touch with you very soon. The small, local farmer thrives in today’s industry by working together collaboratively with other great farmers. We are able to maintain our passion for cultivating extraordinary cannabis without having the burden of increased costs and a minute market share.
Photo by: Chris Butler