Meet the grower: Agrijuana
I finally got a chance to check out Agrijuana about a week ago – and the Battle Ground grower did not disappoint.
The indoor farm, run by Operations Manager Mike McElveny, is quite the streamlined, professional setting.
McElveny has a background in construction – with 33 years in project management – and also has some underground growing experience from his younger days.
“When I was a young man, I experimented with growing in my basement,” McElveny said. “It was for a short time in the early 80s, but everybody said I grew great pot.”
He put that aside when he went into construction, but after legalization in Washington, he got into a discussion with friends about the possibility of building a farm in his hometown of Battle Ground.
“My wife and I were sitting around the dinner table with friends and this topic came up, and my wife said ‘my husband used to grow the best pot,’ and it kind of grew from there,” McElveny said.
You can tell from looking around that his background in construction has paid off. The warehouse is extremely clean, solidly built and well lit.
And the plants look beautiful and healthy.
So far, the operation has 15 full-time employees, but that number is likely to grow in the future, McElveny said.
“We will be hiring more as our market share increases,” McElveny said. “We have a great team. We have a lot of fun.”
McElveny has hired a head grower, but the employees at Agrijuana wanted to stay off the record for now because of the stigma that’s still out there against people who work in the sector (and people who use the products).
Another cool thing about the facility is that it’s designed to be extremely energy efficient.
“We believe that responsible adults in the state of Washington, and hopefully some day in the U.S., should have their marijuana raised in a way that’s environmentally friendly,” McElveny said. “That’s our biggest vision and mission.”
The site uses LED lights made by EcoGrow in Camas. The lights are low power and after a day of constant use, are only warm to the touch – which I found out when he popped one out and put it in my hand.
Agrijuana uses different spectra of the EcoGrow lights in different parts of its operation, depending on plant maturity and whether they want to induce flowering or not.
The farm has a small carbon footprint, a high tech HVAC system, grows in an organic soil blend with cocoa fiber and only needs to use half to a third of the recommended amount of fertilizer, McElveny said proudly.
“We need less nutrient, and we have no discharge into the city system at all,” he said. “All our waste water goes into landscaping.”
(Note: Somebody asked if the company was using pesticides. When I visited, they were working with trap plants like beans to draw bugs away. They’re also testing some other natural processes. I didn’t see any pesticides)
The farm moved in the first plants on July 15, and has four flower rooms – although the final touches are still being put on the fourth one. When finished it will have 21,000 square feet of canopy.
It has about 100 strains in its genetic library, about half in clone and half in seed form.
The operation also just ordered a CO2 extraction machine and hopes to move into concentrates and vape cartridges soon.
But to start, the main focus has been on flower, which has been a bit challenging since the market has been flooded with outdoor grown product from the fall.
“If you didn’t get into the stores between July and October it’s a little difficult,” McElveny said. “Stores bought a lot at inflated prices, and they’re still trying to move through that stock. But new stores are helping, and as that product moves out we’re making some progress.”
They harvest fresh product every day and have a wide variety of strains.
His personal favorite is one called Blue Magoo.
“It’s the smoothest, most mellow feeling,” McElveny said. “It’s about 50/50 indica and sativa, and the buds get kind of bluish-purple.”
The company is also working on a high CBD Harlequin strain.
The plan is to narrow down the strains (they prefer the term varietals – since it sounds a bit more like the wine or beer industry) to about eight mainstays that the farm will have year-round, and then another eight varietals that they will rotate every few months or seasonally.
“So far our mainstays look like they’ll include Blue Dream, Blue Magoo, Blue City Diesel, Purple Kush, G-13 and OG-99,” McElveny said. “We’re learning about every strain, what they like. We’re finding what grows best with our lighting system.”
Some other popular ones are Pot of Gold, Girl Scout II and Lemon Kush, he said.
When at full capacity, the farm will process between 200-300 pounds of product a month, he said.
What do you folks think? Have you tried any Agrijuana product? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!