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Advisory Board: The Art and Science of Cannabis Cultivation

By Sensi Staff
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The Sensi Advisory Board comprises select industry leaders in a variety of fields, from education to cultivation. They are invited to share specialized insight in this dedicated section. The following piece is contributed by Advisory Board member, Vantage Builders.

Cannabis producers are forever focused on quality and consistency. Quantity is also important: maximizing the number of crops and the yield with as little downtime as possible. There is both art and science in the cultivation of the sweet leaf, and every grow team develops its own approach to the process. Ultimately it all comes down to the plant.

Two plants, really: the cannabis plant and the physical plant where it is grown. And no one knows the importance of both better than GreenCare Collective. GCC recently invested in a $40 million, state-of-the-art cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensary facility in Millbury. The 100,000-square-foot space is now home to one of the largest and most advanced grow facilities in Massachusetts.

“Our complete focus is on the cannabis plant, and that means having a world-class facility, where we combine commercial agricultural techniques with the best practices of cannabis cultivation,” said Charles Smith, General Counsel, GreenCare Collective. “We are proud of the facility we have built. It is the culmination of a tremendous amount of experience, planning, and execution.”

GreenCare Collective’s facility features clone, mother, and vegetation rooms; six 9,500-square-foot grow rooms; cultivation process rooms for drying, trimming, curing, and packaging; secure vault storage; and a commercial kitchen for edibles.

The highlight is a perpetual harvest system that keeps plants flowering and vegetation stages continuously. The system features GCC’s custom rolling trays from EnviroTech Cultivation Solutions. Plants are seated in 15.5-foot-long by 4-foot-wide trays and rolled on conveyor racks through each stage of growth, from mother to vegetation to flower, right up to processing. The process allows growers to tailor light and fertigation at each stage, which increases crop yield, quality, and overall efficiency.

The six massive grow rooms are built with Norbec insulated metal panels and epoxy flooring, which help maintain the clean environment critical to cultivation. Each grow room has 24 separate fertigation zones and four lighting zones to maximize growth of healthy plants. More than 2,200 LED lights from Revolution Microelectronics illuminate the grow conditions.

All aspects of the process – fertigation, lighting, temperature, and CO2 levels – are controlled by a smart Priva building management system (BMS), while a second BMS controls the office and dispensary. Funky aromas are eliminated by the Benzaco Scientific odor neutralization system.

For the construction GCC hired Vantage Builders, a general contracting firm that has built approximately one million square feet of cannabis-related space, including cultivation facilities and high-end dispensaries.

“GreenCare Collective’s cultivation facility is one of the most complex projects we’ve worked on in the cannabis market,” said John Connor, Principal, Vantage Builders. “Our team’s years of experience in cannabis construction was critical to the success of the build.”