Innovator Spotlight: Rainforest Farms

Juneau, Alaska

The SPYDRx PLUS has really been a game-changer for me. I couldn’t go back to HPS. Switching to LED has been the best decision I’ve made, hands down.Giono Barrett Co-Founder
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Inside Rainforest Farms: Growing under glacier-powered LEDs

When James and Giono Barrett founded Rainforest Farms, they became the first company to receive a commercial cultivation license in the capital city of Juneau, Alaska. The name embodies the culture of Juneau, cultivating a plant that has been grown [legally] in the state since the 1970’s while situated in the Tongass National Forest. In addition to being known for growing high-quality cannabis, the Barrett brothers are credited with driving legislation and bringing public opinion around commercial legalization to the state.   When legalization of cannabis came to the ballot in 2014, the Barrett brothers were vocal advocates for regulation and policy at both the local and state level. “Alaska is a very conservative state, but Juneau being the capital we have this liberal audience. There is this really nice balance of liberals and conservatives and this healthy mix of politically minded people to support the cannabis industry” said James. The Barrett brothers worked to educate lawmakers on cannabis cultivation and create regulations representing the growers in the state.

We are also trying to be environmentally friendly, we don’t want to have a big impact on our community. So, hydropower is great, but it still takes something from the earth, but a bonus is we aren’t throwing bulbs away every three months so we aren’t filling our landfills with toxins. It has been a great decision James Barrett Co-Owner
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Rainforest Farms Fluence-Powered LED Garden

In addition to driving change at the capital, James and Giono have always valued environmental stewardship and applying their principles to growing cannabis. Like most growers, Giono started cultivating cannabis under HPS lamps. When scaling his business into commercial production, Giono re-evaluated his lighting needs to achieve better crop quality while achieving greater efficiency. Under HPS, the rooms required additional cooling and HVAC equipment, and the plants took longer to develop. With the cost of electricity in Juneau running more than 40% greater than the national average, the opportunity to reduce energy consumption not only fit their environmental goals, but also their business objectives by cutting electricity usage and costs in half. His research for broad-spectrum lighting led him to the Fluence SPYDRx PLUS.   “I found that with the SPYDRx PLUS the plants grow a lot faster than I am used to. I actually haven’t seen plants look like they have been grown outdoors until I started growing under SPYDRx PLUS, it keeps the nodes really short and produces a healthy stalk as opposed to the stretched-out plants we saw under HPS.” said Giono.

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Since growing under SPYDRx PLUS, Giono has seen dramatic improvements in his plants and in the growing environment. As a farmer, Giono’s agriculture experience led him to cultivate with living soil instead of pre-mixed amendments. He relies on foraged amendments harvested from his property and composts his soil after each harvest, staying true to the local and sustainable model the Barrett brothers strive for. “I feel that with the living soil I get a lot more flavor and aroma out of the plant in the end. If the plant has biologically what it needs in the soil, then when its ready to uptake the nutrients its going to have a great output. That output is what I am looking for, that terpene profile and expression of the plant is what maintains that high quality product.”   As the commercial cannabis industry in Juneau (and throughout North America) continues to grow, prices for cannabis continue to drop. “If you can’t grow good cannabis and you can’t do it for the right price, it’s all for nothing” said James. By growing in clean, Alaskan living soil, Rainforest Farms is able to produce high quality cannabis. By growing under Fluence LED solutions, Rainforest Farms is able to produce high quality cannabis that is environmentally and economically sustainable.

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