Whether crafting edibles, concentrates or topicals, quality starts with sourcing the best materials, and Colorado-based Verde Natural produces some of the best organic plants on the planet. While other companies rushed to the market, Verde Natural took its time to cultivate its flower with meticulous precision and care, and it became the exclusive grower for Chong's Choice in Colorado. This emphasis on excellence also attracted NYC chef Chris Mitchell, who will utilize Verde Natural for a new culinary company that will soon debut a groundbreaking approach to infusions. Likewise, the company itself will premiere a new concentrate line this month called Fuego Extracts that already won a first-place award for its Key Lime Pie Rosin. PRØHBTD spoke with CEO Rudy Ellenbogen to learn more about what makes Verde Natural a farmers' market-style leader in the cannabis market.
What about your grow separates you from other operations?
We have four core elements we use to describe our process and product: We are soil grown, organically fed, hand trimmed and slowly cured. A lot of people use synthetic nutrients and grow in either coco or hydroponic. Those methods tend to provide a higher yield and more volume, but the quality is oftentimes sacrificed. The plant is meant to grow naturally in soil, and the richness of the terpene profile and all the flavors reach their highest potential when grown in soil, especially in living soil.
That's the other part. Some people who grow in soil add so many chemicals and synthetic nutrients that they throw the soil away after a cycle. What we do differently is create a living soil environment for the plant to thrive in, which means feeding organic nutrients into the soil in two forms: liquid nutrients and granular nutrients. The granular nutrients include kelp and bat guano, all natural source nutrients that we put in the soil and that get absorbed slowly by the roots of the plant throughout its lifecycle. By doing these things, we allow for an environment of highly rich microbial life within the soil. We allow for all these different players like fungi and microbial life to be inside the soil interacting with each other to balance the best nutrient uptake available for the plant. Does that make sense?
It's a more complicated process that requires a lot more knowledge. I have a master grower and a team of growers that are very experienced and knowledgeable and passionate about this. Allowing a natural process for the plant [to grow] makes the plant so much happier, and the end product is so much better. This process does not provide immediate gratification for those who want something easy, quick and fast, but we have a proven system that takes years to perfect and that works really, really well.
One of the founders is Chuck Blackton, the Lemon Man. Can you tell me about his background?
Chuck Blackton—he's known as the Lemon Man—was the original founder. He's an American who spent about 10 years in Amsterdam growing cannabis and learning from the best and finding the best genetics. That was one of the reasons we decided to invest in the company and make it a lot bigger because it had an amazing reputation as a high-quality brand with a really good genetic. He's a guy who's very well connected and known throughout the industry so he's a great partner.
Tell me about the new concentrates.
Our extraction company, Fuego Extracts by Verde Natural, is a very exciting brand we just created using our flower. We're going to produce vape cartridges and shatter and rosin, which is a solventless concentrate. We actually won first place in the THC Magazine concentrate competition in 2016 for rosin beating out the best companies, and we haven't even launched yet. The higher quality of flower you put in the extraction, the higher the quality of the product that comes out. We've been wholesaling our flower and trim to other companies that do concentrates here in Colorado, and they always say this is the best product that we've seen come out of our machines. That's because the flower we give them is so high in terpene content. We expect our cartridges to be super, super flavorful. We're also introducing the distillate oil, and it's going to be a huge hit. The extracts will launch on 4/20.
Concentrates are about higher-dosage levels, but there seems to be a microdosing trend emerging with the edibles market. What do you think are the benefits of microdosing as far as medicinal or health benefits?
Each person requires a different amount to achieve the purpose they want in medicating themselves or in using edibles for recreational purposes. Therefore, microdosing allows each person to have more control and precision in the intake of the right amount for them. I think that's the biggest benefit. A lot of people end up having too much because they have 20mg and then an hour later think, "I'm not high enough," so they have another 20 and wake up the next day feeling super, super heavy from all those edibles.
What can you tell me about the new edibles line with Chef Mitchell?
Chris is a very experienced and well-known chef of Michelin-starred restaurants in New York, and he understands that we're not trying to create a cannabis company that happens to do edibles. We're trying to create a food company that cares for the ingredients and the sourcing of the highest-quality ingredients and how we infuse the cannabis into the edibles.
Will the new products you're developing be available outside Colorado?
We can't sell wholesale or across state lines, but we do already have our California expansion property purchased and in development. We are going to build our headquarters in California. It's going to be an outdoor greenhouse grow with the lab and the kitchen. I'm excited.
Photo credits: Verde Natural. David Jenison (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Editor-in-Chief at PRØHBTD.