Trim Against The Machine

1000 750 Case Mccone

The drastic mechanization of agriculture is no new phenomenon in the United States. How we grow and harvest our crops has been greatly influenced by the development of new technologies. Shaped by inventions like the gasoline powered tractor introduced at the end of the 20th century and the mechanical potato harvesting machine in 1951 which could dig, sort, and pack, all without a single touch of human hands. Our tractors now have GPS driven autopilot systems enabling them to create mathematically perfect rows, drones that can identify plant diseases from fly over photographs, and AI enabled berry picking machines that can identify bruising on a fruit.  

Mechanization is now our norm.  

But how has this impacted cannabis? As a crop, cannabis has largely been left out of mainstream innovations and markets as it was historically forced into the shadows through decades of prohibition. Growing the plant, harvesting, and processing were all largely done in secrecy, hidden in the cover of thick forests and tucked away in old barns.  

With the emergence of legal cannabis, the new market has steadily become one of the fastest growing agricultural markets in California and throughout North America. Projections on the value of the North American Cannabis Market for 2021 is estimated to be over $20 billion US dollars. With this newly opened market and rapid economic burst robotics companies from across the world have been vying for the spotlight in mechanized cannabis harvesting and trimming. Any why not? The use of machines to meet the demand for this new commodified market quickly and efficiently would catch the eye of any savvy businessperson.  

Early designs of trim machines have advanced rapidly to encompass the needs of large cannabis producers, like the Twister T2 which can process up to 19 pounds of cannabis within one hour. For farms producing massive quantities of product this must be quite enticing. However, as many cultivators have found, the hype really is too good to be true.  

Despite advances in design, trim machines still have a wellearned reputation for damaging the delicate buds. The cost of that hyper-efficient production is quality. Industrial farms pumping out thousands of pounds of cannabis need to quickly package buds in order to get them to retailers as fast as possible, sacrificing the care and scrutiny given to each bud by human attention. For boutique and small legacy farmers every single bud and every piece of the plant is precious. When a farm produces a few hundred pounds a year, the quality of that harvest is tantamount.  

One thing that mechanization can never replicate is the human ability to adjust to variety and diversity. Craft cannabis grown for its particular attributes; smell, flavour, colour, and experience, may not be the standardized dense football shaped buds the trim machines are designed to rapidly chew through. Despite the promise of sterile robotic efficiency, the machines have not been able to match the skillfulness of an experienced human hand. Trained trimmers can adjust the style and process of trimming to account for size, shape, structure, and variety in the flower. The standardized one size fits all trim machine cannot deliver the qualities needed to showcase the typicity of each individual cultivar.  

In sticking to their roots, small farms that still process quality cannabis by hand are carrying on the rich history of dedication and direct connection to the plant. The importance of that connection is demonstrated easily by a quick glance at the finished product. Hand harvested and trimmed flowers are lovingly crafted into gorgeous trichome laden buds, with the natural shape for the individual cultivar and characteristics shining through. This difference is obvious, even from a first glance at a jar a consumer can quickly assess the quality of the cannabis.  

In an increasingly competitive industry pushing to meet demand and drive profit, a hand trimmed nug is a demonstration of dedication, heritage, and a legacy of connection in defiance of the comprise of big agriculture. At Elevated Roots, we ‘Trim Against the Machine’ to preserve our connection with quality and the love of what we do. We still trim by hand, we still hand select the best cultivars, and cultivate with care and patience to create the best quality organic product we can. Inventiveness and an increase in automation will always drive better machines and more ways to incorporate robotics into farming, and into cannabis. But for now, we enjoy the sound of a calm breeze through the garden to that of an engine, and the sound of clicking trimming scissors to the rumble of a trim machine.  

Natural Pest Control

1536 1536 Case Mccone

Right now, cannabis is having a moment. As more and more people are starting to partake in its numerous benefits (both medical and otherwise), growers are becoming much more prolific. However, growing marijuana is not like any other crop. For many growers, organic methods are the preferred option since they deliver a much better plant overall. 

Unfortunately, pests will take every opportunity to munch on your plants, which means that you have to have a strategy to deal with them. Being an organic grower means that you can’t use synthetic pesticides on your cannabis. They could damage the plant itself, as well as anyone using them after harvesting. 

So, with that in mind, we want to talk about natural pest control solutions you can use on your marijuana garden. 

Common Cannabis Pests
To understand the best methods of pest control, you need to know which insects are going to cause the most problems. Typically speaking, these three bugs are going to ruin your cannabis crops if left untreated. 

  • Spider Mites – these tiny red bugs like to suck out the juices of your marijuana plant. Because they are so small, they are hard to spot at first. However, once an infestation takes hold, your crops are in immediate danger. 
  • Fungus Gnats – The larvae of this gnat chew on the root system and extract nutrients from your crops, causing them to die off quickly. 
  • Root Aphids – much like the larvae of fungus gnats, root aphids like to feed on the roots of your cannabis plants. They are also hard to notice until your plant stems start rotting away.

Using Predatory Bugs
Although you can use organic pesticides and foliar sprays to control pest populations, predatory bugs are going to be one of your best defenses. Here are some of the top choices. 

  • Ladybugs – these helpful critters love to feed on aphids and other small insects that will otherwise chew up your plants
  • Predatory Nematodes – these bugs live in the soil, making them ideal for picking off fungus gnat larvae and root aphids
  • Predator Mites – not all mites are dangerous for your marijuana. Some species, like the Stethorus Punctillum, feed on spider mites to control populations

Things to Keep in Mind
While these bugs will help your crops stay intact, you need to be aware of potential downsides, such as:

  • Not for Indoor Use – If you do, you’ll be overrun with insects in no time. 
  • Know Your Species – Before dropping any new bugs into your crop, you need to identify the problem first (i.e., spider mites). Otherwise, your actions may have no effect. 

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

2560 1440 PWSAdmin

Perhaps you’ve made the move out of the city. You are located 40 miles into the heart of the beautiful countryside. You’ve taken most of the steps you can to live off the grid, but you want to do more. When it comes to reducing your carbon footprint, there is still a great deal you can do to enjoy a high quality of life while still helping to protect the forest and nature itself.

Where Does Carbon Come From?
Take for example your fuel sources. Electricity produces carbon dioxide. Your heating and cooling systems may be operating on fuel that’s producing carbon. Coal itself contributes to about 34 percent of all carbon emissions generated by people each year, with oil, petroleum, and natural gas also contributing. So, what can you do to reduce the carbon footprint you are creating?

Simple, Effective, and Very Cool Ways to Take Things One Step Further

You are already doing a great deal by living off the grid, but what else can you do to reduce your footprint? Check out a few of these key recommendations:

Move your oven outdoors
Outdoor wood-fired ovens and solar powered ovens are an excellent investment. Not only does cooking indoors raise the temperature and, therefore, creating more need for power to cool the home, but cooking outdoors using wood or the sun’s energy is far more sustainable. You can still cook the same types of foods in the same cooking styles (baking, roasting, and even frying), but your energy source is more sustainable. Consider using solar cookers, either one you buy or one you design for the most efficient option.

Maximize rainwater
Rainwater provides a highly effective solution for water needs including irrigation for gardens, which tends to be one of the largest demands for water consumption on a farming property. Those who live in an area with moderate levels of rainfall or more may be able to use a rainwater system to sustain all water needs. A single rain barrel is a good starting point, but an above-ground stacked system may be best for those who need more access.

Composting Toilets
What about waste? Most people, even those living sustainably, often don’t want to consider this concern. However, in recent years, a number of new solutions have become available including composting toilets that are not only sanitary, but also very easy to use. They work to turn waste into soil, but must be taken care of to work properly. Purchase an already made composting toilet and the composting material necessary usually sawdust. You can also use wood chips such as cedar or oak leaves. The material is added to a larger outdoor bin and, over time, it becomes compost like any other.

Keeping Food Cold
Refrigeration may be necessary in some situations, but there are several other ways you can more sustainably keep foods from going bad. For example, the use of a root cellar – as simple as it sounds – can be one of the best options. Another option is to use solar-powered appliances. A large selection of products exist all of which can help you to enjoy all of the “”luxuries of life”” without the cost or the carbon footprint.

In addition to this, think simple in everything you do. Insulate and seal your home to reduce energy loss. Reduce the amount of beef and dairy you consume. Grow an organic garden and recycle everything from the bags to the food waste you have. By taking these steps and focusing on sustainability in everything you do, not only can you remain off the grid, but you can also take every step possible to reduce your carbon footprint.

Cannabis in the Medical World

1850 1054 PWSAdmin

There is a shift in how the world views cannabis. First simply seen as a gateway drug in the United States, it is now gaining traction and being legalized for use as medical marijuana. New Mexico was the first to license and regulate production and distribution of cannabis using a state agency. Now Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska have successfully legalized medical marijuana as part of a group of over 23 states that have legalized all or part, such as cannibidiol, of the plant. There are many reforms underway with Uruguay the first country to legalize marijuana. Our country is coming to a turning point with approximately half of our United States approving the use of medical marijuana. Through we have seen a turnaround, there are those who hold to the belief that marijuana harms users and resist this recent perception and new findings. Understanding of cannabis and how it can be used to treat a range of medical issues safely with fewer side effects can offer another view of this health-promoting substance.

Mind-changing Benefits of Cannabis
There are an array of ways in which medical marijuana has been used to treat patients and provide relief, reduce occurrence of symptoms, or inhibit the spread of possibly mortal diseases. Cannabis, and its parts, have been found to help in:

Glaucoma treatment. Glaucoma can lead to blindness and those individuals that also have diabetes can experience an increase in intraocular pressure. Smoking marijuana can help patients relieve pressure from eyes and experience improved eyesight.

Epilepsy management. Smoking marijuana has helped those that suffer from seizures and disorders experience relief and relaxation.

Pain reduction. Individuals diagnosed with MS, Rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, HIV, alcoholism, or have experienced amputation or spinal surgery, have found that marijuana ingestion offers them pain relief as part of a medical marijuana treatment protocol. A 2010 Canadian study found that medical marijuana was substantially more effective as compared to aspirin in limited perceived pain.

Prevention in the spread of Cancer. Cannabidiol, a chemical found in cannabis, may turn off the Id-1 gene, inhibiting cancer cell growth. Research using breast cancer cells showed that those treated with cannibidiol shoed a lower incidence of the gene and any remaining cells were less invasive. Other studies abroad showed a correlation to the death of cancer cells.

Slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s. THC appears to positively impact Alzheimer’s patients. According to a 2006 study, chemicals in THC can help prevent the formation of amyloid plaques. This means longer and more cognizant lives for individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s.

HIV treatment. Research has shown support to help with symptoms that impact patients with HIV, such as weight loss and body aches. In addition, a Louisiana study found that THC given to infected primates seemed to decrease the damage to their immune system in the stomach.

Appetite stimulation. Studies supported by the National Cancer Institute reveal that cannabis inhalation has a positive result on calorie consumption, increasing the number of calories consumed. Also, the American Journal of Medicine showed users to be thinner than the average person, with a healthier metabolism and improved response to sugars.

Parkinson’s tremor reduction. Research in Israel found that smoking pot reduced pain and tremors in patients with Parkinson’s and had also shown a correlation to better sleep quality and improved fine motor skills. Muscle tension relief and a reduction in tremors also benefits multiple sclerosis patients.

PTSD relief for veterans. Marijuana has been found to be a safer treatment alternative to traditional PTSD treatment. Marijuana has a relaxing effect on users without a fuzzy mental state experienced with antidepressants. Soldiers can relieve anxiety without the feeling of being medicated. Most prescribed drugs have a high risk of addiction and are not to be used over long periods. Marijuana use can fluctuate with the needs of the patient and no conclusive studies demonstrate that marijuana is addicting in the common sense of drug addiction as with substances containing opiates.
While some may have a vague knowledge that marijuana can increase the appetite, reduce feelings of nausea and provide some modicum of pain relief, it is truly outstanding to see the applications and implications for the medical use of cannabis.

Getting to the Root

1499 959 PWSAdmin

At best, even the most resistant/stubborn lawmakers have grudgingly been making comments like “we’ll continue to keep a close eye on things,” and other half-hearted acknowledgements that things haven’t been as terrible as they expected/predicted/hoped.

At the same time, other supporters are more enthusiastic, saying that this is only the beginning of a great time for these states that were early adopters, and there’s plenty more positive benefits coming, everything from additional tourism (and tourism dollars) to a healthier population to less crime to more money for cash-strapped states and cities.

Retailers and producers continue to grow in Washington and Colorado, and the marketplace still is trying to determine the proper ratios of shops to patrons and producers to shops.

By most accounts, the state situation is going well. Here’s a snapshot.

Washington. The Evergreen State made things legal in 2012, and the first shop opened in 2014. A July 2015 report by the Drug Policy Alliance showed that low-level marijuana-related criminal offenses have dropped by 98 percent, law violations dropped by 63 percent and convictions by 81 percent. Violent crime has dropped 10 percent. Traffic accident data has remained steady, although safety experts say it might be too early to see any effects specifically to marijuana use. As of summer 2015, the state received at least $65 million from taxes on sales, which goes into the general fund. Bloomberg estimated that at this rate, tax revenue could hit $1 billion in five years.

Along with recreational retailers, the state now requires medicinal dispensaries to have a retail license, which is expected to double the number of granted recreational licenses from about 200 statewide to more than 400. While some cities have welcomed the new economy, others have created local laws to keep them out.

Colorado. The second pioneer state to ‘go green’ has also seen generally positive results. Retail sales began in 2014, and state experts estimate there are now just over 300 retailers and 500 dispensaries.

In its first year, sales were estimated at $700 million, which included $313 from recreational and $386 million from medicinal use. Of this, about 109,578 medical pounds were sold and 38,660 pounds recreational pounds were sold. This total equates to state revenue of about $63 million.

However, a Newsweek article has pointed out there may be some unintended consequences, such as increases in teen overdoses from edibles; an increase in homelessness in major population areas; and fears from the agricultural industry that pesticides and chemicals sometimes used in marijuana cultivation could affect fruit and other unrelated crops.

And, others claim there has been a 32 percent rise in marijuana-related traffic deaths, which opponents blame directly on the drug, while supporters say is statistically insignificant with a gradual decrease in overall traffic deaths.

Other states. Voters in Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. have approved recreational marijuana in recent years, and all of these areas are still putting together policies and procedures. Oregon is currently accepting applications for recreational licenses, and limited amounts of recreational use can be made at licensed medical dispensaries. Alaska is also accepting applications, although there have been legislative attempts to ban businesses in unincorporated areas. D.C. has seen the most confusion – voters approved a recreational initiative, which the mayor supports. However,Congress has opposed the effort.
Residents of other states, and many municipalities, are continuing to watch how things grow in these states, pun very much intended. The increased revenue is attractive, as is the potential decrease in demands on the criminal justice system. However, pot continues to be illegal on the federal front, and law enforcement in states surrounding the legal states are concerned about an increase in people bringing it to sell there, or simply passing through with something purchased legally but with the intent of selling elsewhere.

Nevada County, CA