In the great outdoors with Bubba Kush, Pineapple Express, and a cultivator’s grasshopper helpers
We have love for all kinds of cannabis grows, but especially outdoor ones, and especially around this time of year when massive buds are almost done maturing and the plants start coming down for processing.
It’s an extremely busy time for Coastal Cultivars. In addition to operating the beautiful Great Barrington Dispensary out of a historic mansion in the Berkshires and being the company behind the popular Doob Cube, they maintain a 14-plus acre cultivation in Wareham near Buzzards Bay. This is the nerve center of their entire operation, where they produce their No.9 Sunflower Collection.
“Look how nice and green these are.” Co-founder Ben Smith is showing us around with the pride of a parent introducing their fully-grown children to an old friend. “The vigor on these plants is amazing.”
Coastal Cultivars’ Tier 11 license allows them to grow up to 100,000 square feet of canopy, making them one of the largest of the state’s approximately 20 outdoor grow facilities. This year, they’re using roughly 85% of their available space, “trying to do less with more,” and are expecting roughly the same total haul as last year.
For 2023, Smith’s team is growing 14 different strains, more than half of which are new for them. He shows off their Pre98 Bubba Kush via Katsu Seeds in Maine, as well as a patch of Pineapple Express that smells like a bowl of fresh fruit smushed in your face. The latter perfectly embodies Smith’s personal preferences; an old school grower with a love for landrace strains, he appreciates those classic gas currents but has found an affection for fruitier cultivars as well.
Most of the strains I’m seeing come from Maine, Northern California, and Southern Oregon—terrains with similarities to what they have to work with down in Wareham. With that familiarity comes much-needed resilience.
“With the hurricane [in late September], that tornado that hit Mattapoisett was only three miles from here,” Smith says. “Tornadoes just pop up, so we couldn’t really do anything last minute, but with the hurricane we [knew ahead of time], so we were able to come out here and sand some wet spots and add more trellises.”
At this point, they’re nearly wrapping their third harvest, with thousands of three-to-four pound plants headed for drying. During our visit, we saw colorful electric buds of Jelly Donuts fatter than a child’s forearm, a splendid sight before a lot of it is trimmed, stuffed into prerolls, and sold in their trademark Doob Cubes.
“We launched this in January and it’s our biggest selling product,” Smith says, holding up the plastic box. “It’s a half ounce of one-gram joints with four different cultivars. … We’re actually reducing the amount of stickers, tubes, all that stuff.”
Of all the things they’re proud of, the team behind the No.9 Collection saves most of its praise for the sun, and for the great outdoors they get to grow in. Smith explains how in that natural environment, some things take care of themselves—like when hawks in the trees overlooking their farm swoop in to snag vermin that dare to sneak through the fences.
“He’s my integrated pest management, sitting here chewing up bugs.” Smith introduces me to a grasshopper hanging near the Bubba Kush. “You’ll see them all throughout the field; you’ll see ladybugs, birds. … And anywhere there’s sitting water, there are frogs, and they chew bug larvae too.
“It’s just natural,” he says. “It’s just letting [nature] do its thing.”