BusinessHappiness is running
a weed grow house
Hopes&Fears spoke with artist and filmmaker Joel Fernando about his new calling as a weed farmer in the hills of Colorado.
In honor of an arbitrary yet highly enjoyable holiday, Hopes&Fears got on the phone with writer and grow house farmer Joel Fernando.
While you'll have to wait a bit longer for an upcoming webseries on his adventures, you can read about the transition into his new occupation in our interview.
The self-proclaimed weed entrepreneur says he is "the happiest I’ve been in my life to be honest and on a consistent basis" and that being the master of your domain makes for a more productive mindset.
Writer and grow house farmer
Joel Fernando is filmmaker, multimedia artist, and weed farmer based in Colorado. Fernando has produced music videos for Atlas Sound, Girl Talk, and Future Islands and his work has appeared in Slate and Dazed Magazine.
↑ "You can call it a grow operation but most people here would just call it a grow."
Hopes&Fears: So, what do you do?
Joel Fernando: I run a grow warehouse. [It’s not] like a dispensary or anything as far as marketing a product or managing day-to-day sales, that's not my interest. I’m more or less a farmer. You can call it a grow operation but most people here would just call it a grow, it's really that simple.
H&F: What made you want to start a grow?
JF: I got to Colorado in August, very soon after quitting my old job. I had mentally shut down at this job for two months [and needed] to get out. I ended up calling a friend who had been growing marijuana in Colorado for two years. He studied biochemistry in college and had been growing for a care-giver so I talked to him and he agreed to set me up and teach me what he knew as far as starting a grow and farming.
H&F: So after you arrived, what was the next step?
JF: In October, we rented out our first warehouse, an MMJ compliant space. MMJ is just an acronym for medical marijuana. If you come out here and you get a space [that's] not compliant, i.e. it’s too close to a school or it doesn’t have proper electrical fittings, you’re going to find yourself in a lot of trouble and out tens of thousands of dollars. And as for our license, we operate under a "99 plant count license," so we can legally grow 99 plants for our own personal medicine. It takes [a lot of money] to get a grow off the ground. It’s not just like this thing where you can just start growing marijuana in a basement. It takes money and time and at this early stage our next move was getting more investors. The $100,000 initial investment is just the beginning of this adventure.
The thought of large corporations getting deeply involved is frightening... Can you imagine “Walmart weed?"
H&F: What’s your day to day like?
JF: I have a hand in everything, both the business side of things as well as going to the grow house to water the plants. That’s one of the biggest and most important tasks we take on every week. We also mix nutrients for the soil, make sure the temperatures are proper, we transplant depending on the schedules, etc. It’s all very very formulaic since plants love consistency. It’s how you keep your plants happy. That and about a million other variables, but watering is key. If you miss a day of watering, the leaves will be down and that’s no good. We’re a couple of weed farmers or weed entrepreneurs if you will. We're all putting in our due of ‘sweat equity.’
H&F: Do you feel this is like starting any other business?
JF: It's kind of the same thing. If you want to start a business, you definitely need a ‘mind trust.’ I’m sure a lot of people who start a business know you can’t just start a business by yourself, unless maybe you’re doing [something on] Etsy or some eBay shit. You need like a mind trust of people with certain skills to put something like this together. I wouldn’t be doing this right now if I didn’t have my business partners and others who have brought a lot of other skills to the table. Have you read Napoleon Hill's book, Think and Grow Rich? I’ve been following a lot of those rules and I’ve found they all to lead to success. When things were getting pretty stressful and I was trying to get shit done and hustle, I stopped jerking off and practiced abstinence for a full month. The book talks about sexual transmutation and focusing all that energy into your project and what you want to get accomplished. It’s legit too man, it’s so legit. When you don’t cum for that long and you don’t release that energy, you can feel it! I’ve been practicing certain things so that I can fully take on this business venture like a mature business man.
When things were getting pretty stressful and I was trying to get shit done and hustle, I stopped jerking off and practiced abstinence for a full month... I’ve been practicing certain things so that I can fully take on this business venture like a mature business man.
H&F: Did this book took you on a journey to abstinence and you came out a man? Is this the largest venture you’ve taken on?
JF: Yeah, for sure. We’ve put in almost $100,000 collectively. But it’s a pivotal moment in history to take on something like this. It’s the best time. Plus, things have been snowballing -- year to year, month to month, more states have started to decriminalize and legalize weed.
H&F: What’s your stance on legalization?
JF: I like entertaining both sides of the argument. A lot of people are using marijuana for medicinal purposes and that should be recognized more in the media. Whether you’re pro- or anti-marijuana as far as its effects on health, legalization means that the country is regulating it and that’s far better than it remaining an underground billion dollar bootleg market where no one is regulating the quality of what’s being grown and how it’s being distributed -- and there’s also the tax revenue stream that it creates. That being said, people are just gonna smoke either way.
↑ Would you die if you smoked all of this in one joint? It could be fun to figure that out.
H&F: Do you ever worry that the federal government will just shut it down completely?
JF: Absolutely! That’s definitely run through my mind in the last few months but I’m not too worried. It’s interesting to see how big of an industry it is here already and how it being debated across the country. It’s been decriminalized in New York and D.C., the train has already left the station. It’s too big of a movement and there’s too much money being invested by power players for it to be repealed.
H&F: How has this experience affected you personally?
JF: To be honest, I’m the happiest I’ve been in my life on a consistent basis. I mean, I had some very happy times in New York but they were followed by many unhappy times because it’s fucking hard to live with that struggle of NYC living. Working for Viacom, Logotv, or whoever the fuck. The whole hustle here just feels healthier. Not necessarily easier, but I do find it much more satisfying and I have a lot of time left over to do whatever the fuck I want. Plus, my only bosses here are all these green ladies and you keep them very fucking happy. Straight up dendrophilia.
H&F: Speaking of these green ladies, what are your favorite strains of weed?
JF: Honestly, I don’t know much about strains. What we grow is organic Blue Dream, Pineapple Blue Dream, and OG Kush. I’m all about organic marijuana, it’s important to know the source so you can insure that your weed won’t be covered in chemicals. We grow organic only. We use mixers like kelp and molasses and add earthworms to the soil. We take care of the soil in the situation and then the soil takes care of the plant.
H&F: When you say organic, are you speaking in terms of your methodology or does this include state regulation?
JF: I mean as to what we grow. As far as regulations on how people are growing it’s so lax that it’s scary!
H&F: Have there been any recent happenings brewing in the industry that have caught your eye?
JF: There have been rumors that Monsanto has been getting involved with cross breeding marijuana but I got in touch with them directly and found out that they’re not. It’s big news for me. The thought of large corporations getting deeply involved is frightening... Can you imagine “Walmart weed?"
It’s been decriminalized in New York and D.C. The train has already left the station.
images COURTESY Joel Fernando