Leaf Nation Logo

Craft Cannabis at Benson Arbor

The craft approach is winning – and it's all based on value and quality.

Photos by Tony Simonelli

From humble roots as full-term sungrown farmers to quickly becoming the largest joint producer in the state of Oregon, Benson Arbor is delivering the beautiful flavors of sungrown Cannabis one puff at a time.

Just as a seed transforms before sprouting and then grows as a vegetative plant before blooming into flower, so has grown the vision for Benson Arbor. Their love for the plant and genetics has been the driving force to keep evolving and taking the time, energy and risk to grow Cannabis outdoors. The team has leaned into a push to become true farmers, not just growers – using tractors and technology to become more efficient in their pursuit of supplying customers with fresh, high-quality sungrown Cannabis year round. 

Growing in a sunkissed valley with rows of powerhouse strains like Where’s My Bike (so popular it deserves a whole field to itself), the team has perfected the curing and storage process to keep their weed fresh for a whole season. Custom-built facilities for storing and rolling stand proudly above the field, and with a fresh-grind guarantee, every joint on a shelf is rolled and intended for consumption within 30 days. Inside a joint, their sungrown weed shines – where the true test of flavor and smoothness earns repeat customers.

Benson Arbor’s reputation for quality and consistency has built this year-round demand for flower that is grown and harvested as midsummer light deps and fall-harvested full-term sungrown, powering a joint processing facility that never stops rolling.

We toured the farm with co-owners Noah Levine and Matt Dautrich and have selected questions that highlight their love for the Cannabis plant and community.

How do you select the strains to grow each season?
Noah: When you put really top-shelf indoor and top-shelf outdoor in joints, the customer appreciates them both. They’ll purchase them both at the same price. When you hide the aesthetics of indoor in a joint, the bag appeal, it’s lost. We breed and select for the exhale – how the terps coat your mouth on the exhale. And if it doesn’t do that, if it only smells and looks great – it’s not a keeper. We got rid of everything that was pretty but didn’t coat your mouth with flavor. We’re flavor focused.

So it doesn’t matter how high something is in THC when you are hunting for new strains?
N: We do our hunts and we first go through smelling the plants for nose, and then we select which ones we want to cure and dry and smoke-test ourselves. We kill plants before we see potency, because it’s all about the flavor.

What’s been a surprisingly hard part of the growing process?
N: We get a lot of hate. People say we aren’t craft anymore because of our size, but I don’t honestly see the industry pursuing craft like we are, at scale. We breed the plants, we grow in native soil that’s barely amended, we feed with kelp and fish and crab and basic inputs. We’re family owned and operated. And there’s not much money left in farming – so we’re really doing this because we love it. 

How does it feel as a grower to have all your beautiful flower turned into joints?
Matt: The joints have paved the way for us to expand. But if you told me years ago that we would be a pre-roll company, I’d have said ‘no way.’ We’ve changed the way we think about joints, and consumers’ impression on what a good joint is. It’s ground flower, no trim, and our joints get to the customers’ mouth within 30 days. As soon as you grind the flower, the clock is ticking – so we don’t pre-grind any material. It’s all grind as we go.

How have you changed the business model as you’ve gone from selling bud to joints?
N: For us, the change in our model was taking a unique approach where every decision is based on value to the customer. That’s why we picked a Roll Pros joint machine, because it rolls a better joint. That’s why we have specific grinds for different inputs. Everything is set up by giving value, and if you do that, the customer knows that they are safe spending their money with you and then they come back. We also believe strongly that money follows passion if you’re smart, and we won’t produce anything that Matt and I wouldn’t smoke. I smoke our joints every day!

Do you believe that craft at scale can win the race against corporate weed?
N: For the first time in a few years I feel hopeful, because a craft approach is winning – and it’s all based on value and quality. So if that equation works for us, then it can work for the other farms too. There is a sweet spot for companies that can do craft at scale, and when you put it in a joint all things are equal … it’s all about flavor and high. And that’s where living soil organic flower wins.


Photos by @simonellitony

About Wes Abney

Wes Abney is the founder and CEO of the Leaf Nation brand family, which began in 2010 as Northwest Leaf magazine. Recognized as the first Cannabis publication in the region, Northwest Leaf defined and developed the medical and recreational Cannabis communities in Washington with free publications focused on quality content and truthful journalism. The model’s success has led to Oregon Leaf in 2014, Alaska Leaf in 2016, Maryland Leaf in 2019, California Leaf in Spring of 2020, and Northeast Leaf in Fall of 2020. Wes’s writing and publishing background began with his college newspaper, The Ebbtide, which included a love for multimedia and creating content on many platforms. The nickname “Bearded Lorax” came after years of publishing millions of free magazines, using his voice to speak for a plant and those that benefit from it. Wes is an activist not only for Cannabis but for alternative medicine treatments, ending the drug war and freeing prisoners who have been wrongfully incarcerated for non-violent crimes. His passion for reaching people with written and spoken words led to the concept of Leaf Life Podcast in partnership with Mike Ricker, which began development in 2018 and launched in January 2019. With the combined passions of Cannabis and a love for broadcasting, the creation of Leaf Life was a natural progression for Leaf Nation as it spread roots across the United States. With over 100 shows recorded, and printing over 100,000 monthly copies, Leaf Nation has become the world’s largest Cannabis media company, while still celebrating the humble roots and truthful journalism that the model was founded upon. Beyond leading a team of 40+ passionate Cannabis creatives, Wes is the father to two beautiful daughters and two furry cats. He lives in Seattle, drinks coffee, and enjoys Cannabis daily, and hopes to eventually transition from a successful Cannabis journalist to a classic coffee shop author as the Leaf continues to grow in the coming decades. In true Lorax fashion, he enjoys hikes in the forest, communing with nature, and reminding people that “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.”

This article was originally published in the November 2023 issue of Oregon Leaf.

View our archive on issuu.

Are you 21 or older? This website requires you to be 21 years of age or older. Please verify your age to view the content, or click "Exit" to leave.