By Alyssa Schnugg
When Good Day Farm received its medical cannabis cultivation license in August, no time was wasted to get seeds into dirt at the company’s new growing facility in the Lafayette County Max D. Hipp Industrial Park.
It became the first cultivator to sell its product to local dispensaries.
“We’re super excited about that,” said Zach Wilson, vice president of operations at Good Day Farm.
The company is only about 18 months old, but already has growing facilities in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and now, Mississippi.
Good Day Farm is currently supplying about 20 dispensaries in Mississippi, including the two that are currently open for business in Oxford – Hyrbid Relief and Starbuds.
Wilson said Good Day Farm choose Lafayette County to build its 150,000-square-foot facility to avoid the congestion of businesses around the Jackson area.
“We wanted to be on the outskirts,” he said. “We found this property and it worked for us and what we needed it to for and we were able to work with county officials.”
Good Day currently employs about 90 people and Wilson said that number will continue to grow as the business of medical cannabis grows.
The company relied on its experts to get things rolling in Lafayette County as quickly as the company could. The former SWM building in the industrial park needed to be completely gutted and rebuilt to provide the space for growing cannabis as well as packing areas and a kitchen for edible products that should arrive on dispensary shelves in the near future.
“We were able to bring a lot of expertise down here from other states that have already been operating for a while,” Wilson said. “And that helped us to be able to get to market first and train our employees. There’s little access to this type of agricultural work. There’s a big learning curve.”
Good Day Farm currently is growing about 55 different strains of cannabis. It’s all grown inside, per state law.
“We have about six to 10 strains growing in every room,” Wilson said.
Each person entering the area where the cannabis is grown, including all employees, wears plastic scrubs for biosecurity.
“Sometimes insects or mold can come in, whether it’s on your shoes or clothes,” Wilson said, “so we just try to mitigate that as best as possible.”
The growing process starts with large “mom” plants that are cut, cloned and planted, then those cuttings are in the veg stage for about five weeks until they reach two feet in height. Then they go into the flowering room to be cultivated, allowing the plants to know it’s time to produce fruit.
The plants are then allowed to grow and flower for about 9 weeks before they are harvested.
The smell of the cannabis is controlled using a high-tech air filtration system that uses two types of carbon filters, or air scrubbers.
The plants are fed nutrients and water through an automated system using software to align schedules of each strain’s needs.
After the plants are harvested, the product goes through quality control and heads into the dry rooms. There the harvesters remove fruit from stems and everything is weighed and measured to comply with state laws.
The cannabis is then put into “burping” bags where they are turned each day to allow natural gases to escape.
Eventually, the product winds up in the green vault where it is weighed out to be packed.
Packing Manager Yolanda Gutierrez has been in the industry for 10 years. Starting in Colorado, she also worked in California and Maine before relocating to Mississippi to work for Good Day Farm.
“I’m very happy I could bring my skills to help them with this launch,” she said. “If you don’t have experience, there could be a lot of things that you’re not aware of that really impact everything from making sure all the potency levels are exactly what the state says they should be. We have to pay close attention to all details.”
The product is then taken to the packing room where it remains to fill orders.
Currently, Good Day Farm only provides flower cannabis to dispensaries, but they are working on other types of products.
“We are getting ready to create and make what we believe to be the first gummies in the state,” Wilson said. “Eventually we will be producing chocolate.”
The gummies will allow patients to receive the medical benefits they need, without having to smoke cannabis.
Good Day Farm is producing a minimum of 300 pounds of flower product a week.
“We have the capabilities to double that if the market calls for it,” Wilson said.
Wilson said the idea of medical cannabis can be a bit scary or unsettling because marijuana was completely illegal not very long ago.
“We want to do as much education and exposure on what we do here. We don’t people afraid to talk about cannabis,” Wilson said.