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Video: Dabs, Labs, Tissue Culture, And Trophies At Happy Valley

“One of the best things … is that it’s single sourced, meaning we make the decisions from genetic selection all the way through sale.”

Associate Director of Brand Engagement Gilly Motta started off our recent tour of Happy Valley on the retail floor of their enormous Gloucester terp arena. It’s an impressive shop with glass cases galore, including one full of gold trophies in the corner.

“Those represent 60% of the flower awards from High Times over the past two years,” he said. The company has cleaned up in the stoner mag’s democratic Massachusetts People’s Choice awards, winning accolades for flower like their star hybrid White Wedding as well as for sips and bites. “It shows our dedication and hard work.”

Showing us around, Motta said, “We opened during the pandemic, so we had a lot of hurdles to kind of get over.” But in time, they learned what customers are looking for. “The clients on the North Shore like their edibles,” he said, “and they like to understand their recreational edible dosing.” For those heads, Happy Valley stocks a wide range of flavors and features, including rapid-onset gummies that use the same nano infusions as their Stir Stix.

As for their other spot, in East Boston, Motta said, “It’s more of a flower place. Prerolls, it’s in the city, a lot of foot traffic.” And they have plenty for that crowd as well …

“At any given point, we have about 20 cultivars in rotation—it’s based partly off of market demand, and partly off of what we want to grow.” Cultivation Manager Dan Nelson suited up to show us where the action happens. “I want every cultivar on our menu to have a different terpene expression.”

Of 55,000 square feet in their warehouse, 15,000 (or nearly a quarter) is dedicated canopy. Within that, they’re currently using nine out of 10 flower rooms—one with High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights, and eight with LED illumination. Nelson explained the setup …

“For 30 years, breeders were breeding around [high pressure sodium vapor] HPS lights, so the plants responded best to high [infrared] IR setups. Now that we have the LEDs, you’re going to have certain plants that aren’t acclimated to those.”

Every week, they take down about 700 plants. About 600 go to drying for eventual sale in jars or as prerolls, while the remaining bud goes to fresh-frozen stock for concentrates or cannabinoid processing.

Between the flower rooms and Happy Valley dab lab, we met their Plant Science Manager Mary Hausken, who introduced herself as a “one-woman show running the lab.”

“My main responsibility is to keep genetics safe and preserve them,” Hausken said. “But [Happy Valley] also established a tissue culture this year,” which will enable them to grow from mere cells and increase plant vigor while modifying to protect from pathogens.

By the time we got to meeting Solventless Lab Manager Jonathan Whitley-Lederman by the pneumatic rosin press, where his team was cranking out a brilliant batch of GMO Zkittlez, we were looking at products which took more than 50 skilled hands to create, from the seed drops to the popping of air bubbles for dab clarity.

“One of the best things about our solventless brand is that it’s single sourced,” Whitley-Lederman said, “meaning we make the decisions from genetic selection all the way through sale.”

Similar teamwork was on display in the mad scientist-friendly non-solventless lab next door, where Extraction & Processing Manager William Eagan showed off an icy stash of distillate and raw terps—the “essence” of what makes their carts and other products so special. “Very few post-processing steps,” he added. “And only using good quality buds—that’s what makes the good stuff.”

Moving forward, Happy Valley Director of Marketing Heather Lovett said they’re on a mission “to reinvigorate the marketplace.” Specifically, Happy Valley “invested in some equipment that will allow us to produce probably 30 to 50% more gummies on a monthly basis.”

“With the fact that we’re born and bred in the state,” Lovett said, “we’re hoping we can capture a little bit more shelf space throughout the commonwealth.”