New Brunswick

Kent County outdoor cannabis farm reports bumper crop

New Brunswick's first outdoor cannabis farm licensed by Health Canada is collecting it's first harvest. Solargram Farms is located near St. Antoine, near Kent County.

Solargram Farms first outdoor cannabis farm in New Brunswick licensed by Health Canada

Marc LeBlanc is the president of Solargram Farms located in Renauld Mills, near Saint-Antoine. He says the farm, which grows cannabis, has 130 acres. 50 of those are licensed by Health Canada. (Jean Philippe Hughes/Radio Canada )

Len Wood calls the first cannabis harvest at the first outdoor cannabis farm in Kent County his field of dreams.

He and Marc LeBlanc have been working on the project for the last couple of years.

But getting to this point in 2020 hasn't been easy

LeBlanc said COVID-19 threw a wrench in their plans, and prevented them from getting their licence from Health Canada until June.

That meant a later than normal planting, and that affected the yield for the first year.

LeBlanc, the president of Solargram Farms in Renauld Mills, near Saint-Antoine, said he comes from a business background. And Len Wood, the company's vice president knows about the growing end of the business.

Marc LeBlanc says because of COVID-19, Solargram Farms only received its licence from Health Canada in June. That meant a late planting. But he's happy with the results. (Radio-Canada )

Len Wood said when the property was purchased last year, he didn't know if the project would be feasible. Now there are 13,000 plants.

"We're in the middle of fall harvest, which is our first year harvest, and we're really excited, it's exceeded expectations." said Wood. "It's quite something."

Wood feels it makes sense to grow cannabis outdoors.

"You have to remember this is a wild plant. It's grown wild outdoors for hundreds of years and in October of 2019 Health Canada allowed outdoor grow to become a reality in the Canadian marketplace." he said.

Solargram Farms vice-president Len Wood examines some of the 13,000 plants that have grown this year. (Jean Philippe Hughes/Radio Canada)

Some of the plants are grown under half-open greenhouses, which provides low cost ventilation.

Others are grown outside in the elements.

It's harvest time at New Brunswick's only outdoor cannabis grower, Solargram Farms

CBC News New Brunswick

4 months agoVideo
1:38
The large-scale cannabis farm is in Kent County, near Saint-Antoine. After just one year in operation, there are about 13,000 plants. 1:38

Marc LeBlanc said the two processes will help determine how the plants perform under different circumstances, including how it affects factors like THC content.

There are currently 130 acres at the farm. LeBlanc said 50 acres are approved for use by Health Canada, even though only about a third of that space is being used right now.

Solargram Farms vice president Len Wood says it makes sense to grow cannabis outside, because it grows wild outdoors in nature. (Radio-Canada)

LeBlanc said they are under strict security guidelines put in place by Health Canada.

"Just to give you an idea, we have over a kilometre of fencing here for our current 'phase one' site with over 50 cameras that are continually securing the entire facility." he said.

"We actually have Bella, the German shepherd doing fence monitoring. It's a serious deal getting these licences and the security component is one of the major deals that has to be met." he said.

LeBlanc said there are very strict internal security procedures as well.

It cost about $7 million dollars to set up the facility.

Solargram Farms is located in Renauld Mills, near Saint-Antoine. (Radio-Canada )

LeBlanc said the company still has to figure out what its crop is worth. Leblanc has an idea how many kilograms this year will yield and said discussions are underway about where it will fit in the retail market.

"So the jury is still out there, but it will be a multi-million dollar return." he said.

Right now the company has between 40 and 50 employees.

But, LeBlanc is hoping that they will be able to employ a couple of hundred people by 2023.

LeBlanc and Wood also hope to increase the number of plants from 13,000 this year to between 40 and 50 thousand next year.

With files from Jean Philippe Hughes, Radio-Canada

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