Building the largest indoor, vertically-grown, living soil farm in the world.
Flora & Flame is a brand that’s been growing a name by blazing a trail through the California weed scene with their incredible living soil flower. After creating the only new building in Oakland specifically designed to grow Cannabis, they’ve exploded onto the competition circuit, coming dangerously close to winning the infamous King of Z Hill tournament last 4/20. Since starting the project in 2017, Bay-area native Chris Castle has been focused on creating a brand that shows the world what you can do when you apply living soil practices to large scale cultivation – something many people told him couldn’t be done.
First we should give a quick definition of what growing with living soil is. These cultivation techniques are inspired by the conditions soil undergoes in nature. By introducing beneficial bacteria and fungi – harnessing their power to break down organic matter into nutrients that can be easily absorbed by a plant’s roots – this type of soil is able to cycle nutrients without using additional fertilizers. Living soil is just that: teeming with activity from earthworms, mushrooms, nematodes and more, all working together to enrich the soil better than any store-bought concoction. Growers report that using these methods gives them healthier root systems, plus a stronger taste and aroma to the buds.
Castle says he’s the first to admit that growing with living soil isn’t easy to do. It’s highly labor intensive, and people still try to tell him it isn’t possible to do at a production level. For Flora & Flame, living soil doesn’t just produce the absolute best quality Cannabis – it’s a way to bring together the future and the past to grow better plants. “This is something people have worked on for hundreds of years,” Castle said. “What’s going on in the soil has been happening for millions. With technology where it is now, we can actually put science to this and make it something that’s easier to explain or wrap your head around.”
Part of a small list of living soil producers in California’s recreational market, Flora & Flame’s headquarters spans a whopping 17,000-square-foot, multi-level facility – designed, engineered and built specifically for the purpose of producing this kind of labor intensive, high quality Cannabis at a commercial scale. To do this, much of the space had to be dedicated to an intricate network of systems and environmental sensors that ensure everything runs smoothly in the 8,400 square feet of LED-lit cultivation space where plants are housed in a dual-tiered, bunkbed-style setting.
Everything runs on renewable energy and the moisture from the plants is collected, filtered and ran back into the system to create less than 10% waste. These custom designed environmental controls means the team is able to compile all these data points about what’s going on in a room, then compare it with past data sets to develop a snapshot that tells them how to merge these old-world and new-world techniques.
Flora & Flame is currently the largest indoor, vertically-grown, living soil farm in the world. All told, Castle says Flora & Flame can house an impressive 4,000 plants at a time. It’s enough space for him and the team to run 12 flavors at full production, but right now they’re reserving space to grow over 30 different cultivars for possible inclusion into their collection of strains. Besides producing eye-catching Cannabis, Castle says they’re looking to the future.
“We would like to push Cannabis in a more sustainable direction. Whether that’s with packaging, waste, or the way we cultivate,” Castle explained. “Our hope is that other brands will take notice and start being more sustainable themselves. We all need to start doing our part to incorporate technology and become a more environmentally sustainable industry.”
This month, Flora & Flame launches in a selection of 50 stores throughout the state – don’t miss your chance to try a brand that’s on the cutting edge of Cannabis.