Meet the grower: Phat Panda
Phat Panda, the flower brand name for Grow Op Farms in Spokane, has become one of the most popular products at a handful of Vancouver stores, including Main Street Marijuana, New Vansterdam and The Herbery.
I thought I’d check in with the company and get a bit of background on them for everybody. Their marketing and artwork, in my opinion, is just brilliant. Have a look at some of their strain packaging:
Johnny Wilson, vice president of the company, said their packaging design ideas started with the company’s owner, who has a background in marketing. The owner asked that his name be kept off the record.
“(Our marketing) is a natural progression of what he’s done before,” Wilson said. “We also have an artist on staff who does our branding. He lives in Michigan.”
The Tier 3 grow operation has 16 flower rooms and got its permit in early September 2014. So far, the company has produced 50 strains (although its not keeping them all in rotation) out of the 200 or so in its strain library.
“We like to keep a big rotation and keep it fresh,” Wilson said. “There are so many good strains out there.”
The company’s two marquee strains so far are Golden Pineapple and OG Chem.
“The pineapple has a very high terpene level and it’s real good on the THC,” Wilson said. “The OG Chem, it’s in the mid 30 percent range for THC. It’s a real face-melter, you might say.”
The Golden Pineapple is the most popular so far. Wilson said it’s an active strain and a good mood elevator. Their head grower used to work on the medical side in Tacoma, and he brought the strain with him during the import window when the store was first licensed.
“I believe the cut originally came from Southern Oregon a long time ago,” Wilson said.
For those looking for a milder, beginner or returning-to-marijuana strain, the company’s Blackberry Kush is between 10 to 12 percent THC and is “as close to a land race indica as we’ve found,” Wilson said.
“When we harvest that room, the entire facility smells like blackberry jam,” Wilson said.
The company, which is the largest producer-processor by volume in Washington, hopes to expand its facility with a second level this summer, which will bring it to its full 21,000 square foot canopy space. The plan is to dedicate those rooms to Golden Pineapple and OG Chem, Wilson said.
The farm has 60 employees right now, about half of which are full time. Two of their workers hail from Vancouver, Wilson said.
They aren’t hiring more staff yet, but this summer after the expansion they may, he said.
Bud trimmers at the farm start at $11 or $12 an hour.
So what’s with the Phat Panda name? Wilson has a story about that.
“Our owner, before we started the business, that was the name of an LLC he had,” Wilson said. “We were going to market just as Grow Op Farms, but that was a little generic – so we pressured the owner into using it.”
After that, the staff came up with the name Sticky Frog for its concentrates and oils.
As far as grow site details, the company does use pesticides that have been approved on the state’s I502 list. It also uses high pressure sodium lighting, and growers are planning to add some plasma lighting to get more blue spectrum light to mimic the sun in late season.
“That helps our yield and bud production,” Wilson said.
The company, like several local growers, also has a high CBD strain in the works. Phat Panda’s White Widow tested evenly at about 10 to 12 percent CBD and THC.
“We popped that from seed and were really surprised when it flowered like that,” Wilson said. “We’re really happy about the high CBD count. A lot of times, these high CBD strains, they don’t have high THC, so we were glad to see the even distribution.”
While the seed was labeled as White Widow, it may not be. But the company is going with the name the strain came with either way, he said.
That product should be in Vancouver stores in about six weeks, Wilson added.
More on the grower:
Grow Op Farms (Spokane Valley)