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AKO Farms’ Archie Vanwinkle

"Educating people about the benefits of smoking concentrates is one of my favorite parts of the job."

Archie Vanwinkle grew up in the kitchen of his dad’s Italian restaurant in Sitka. When he got older, he turned in pots and pans for rain boots and fishing line as a commercial fisherman. After five years on the water he decided to shift careers again – and now you can find him behind the counter at AKO Farms LLC’s dispensary.

What is the Cannabis scene like out there in Sitka?
I want to say that there isn’t like a huge scene out here. A lot of the scene is just going out into the woods and smoking with a few friends. Sometimes you go out walking in the woods and smell something burning, and you run up on people smoking.

That’s one way to make new friends! Have attitudes towards Cannabis changed since legalization?
I’d say within the last five or six years since it’s been legal, there’s definitely more of a community developing around the Cannabis shops in town. You see a lot of customer loyalty when it comes to the shops.

Obviously, AKO is known for its high-quality concentrates. Are most of the customers coming into the dispensary looking for concentrates?
You know, it’s really interesting because I find that a lot of the time people just want to stick with flower. Or they want to ‘numbers chase,’ thinking higher THC is going to equal a better high. But I love trying to flip people and get them using concentrates. Educating people about the benefits of smoking concentrates – and what each terpene profile can do – is one of my favorite parts of the job.

What would you tell a customer who is looking to try concentrates, but is a little hesitant to take the plunge?
It starts with understanding where they are coming from. I like to find out why they aren’t currently smoking concentrates. A lot of times, it’s because they had a bad experience back when the concentrate market stuff was still kind of coming to fruition in Alaska. Once I know their history, I can help them find a smoking method, terpene profile, and product type that best suits the high they are hoping to achieve.

What is it about concentrates that you love so much?
In my opinion, I think they’re a little more healthy for you than flower. You’re not getting all those carcinogens from burning plant material in your lungs. The high is also so much more intense, and it’s more portable than flower. You can just put a cart in your pocket and toke all day.

What is your go-to concentrate right now?
Golden Goat! Everyone really loves our Tangie, but it hits me so heavy in the head that I can only smoke a little bit before I have to just sit down. Like, it puts me overboard. But Golden Goat is amazing. It’s just the perfect mix of chill and energized.

This article was originally published in the May 2022 issue of Alaska Leaf.

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