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Decibel Farms is Loud and Proud

"I refuse to drop anything that doesn't punch you in the face the second you open the jar."

When Decibel Farms Founder Shawn Bishop says, “The genetics are really 99% of it,” – he’s really just being humble. Of course, that’s easy to say when you’re standing against a row of exciting new cultivars ready for harvest … all throwing off vibrant colors and amazing aromas.

Decibel Farms is both a well-organized and wild jungle of Cannabis. The greenhouses are flanked with outdoor plants, roots sunk directly into the soil of this Southern Oregon farm. Every turn hits us in the face with a wall of bold scents, brightly colored Cannabis, or some cultivar featuring a nonsensical structure and insane terpene profile. Shawn has built a farm that is in service of the dank, and you can tell he’s got a thirst for new and exciting expressions of our favorite flower.

Before growing Cannabis full time, Shawn owned an organic gardening store which led him to apply for and win a USDA grant to study compost and compost tea analysis. Shortly after, when a Cannabis company scooped him up to run their farm, he thought he would be living the dream. Then reality set in.

“I was growing with salts and using electricity, which was the exact opposite of what I had been teaching. One day I just woke up and said, ‘I’m out, I’m going to start a company in Southern Oregon.’” He had a friend drive by a property situated on the Applegate River and they relayed the message that the place needed a lot of fixing up, but could work. Sight unseen, Shawn put an offer on the place and the rest is history.

“The basis of my farm is all rooted in soil biology and protecting the ecosystem and environment – the terroir here is important.” We’re here on a sunny fall day and the plants are all reaching toward the sun with heavy branches – this is their home, and it is clear that they love it here. Behind the scenes of this idyllic landscape is yet another reason for the thriving nature of Decibel’s operation: Shawn’s rigorous grading of each plant throughout its lifecycle – complete with a detailed spreadsheet which carefully tracks the nose and resin qualities of each plant. 

“World Changing Terps” is Shawn’s terminology for what makes a plant worthy of a space in his garden. Next to that, the plant needs to produce great hash. With a rigorous 300-plant pheno hunt underway, Shawn has given himself a long runway to find winners for next season. He’ll run this same 300-plant hunt in the spring and summer to find that list of a dozen keepers, and see which environment they thrive best in. Then he’ll start the whole thing over again. Constantly sifting for that next standout.

“I’m not even interested unless the plant is LOUD. If it has this intense smell, then I’ll tear into it to see if it has that depth of flavor,” Shawn adds. “I refuse to drop anything that doesn’t punch you in the face the second you open the jar.” He betrays the humble attitude and jokingly mentions that, OK, now he might be bragging. “If it ain’t those WCTs, I’m not growing it.”

Bishop leads us through another aisle of mouth-watering flavors. On deck, they’ve got Dead Hot Strawberries, Dessert Runtz, Grape Blow, Pancakes, and 100 other cultivars that have us excited for a post-harvest hash session. Those familiar with Decibel will want to keep an eye out for the new flavors mixed in with the old favorites. For those just getting your first taste, know that the farmer himself is making sure those over-the-top profiles end up on dispensary shelves.

Photos by @_siraynot_

This article was originally published in the November 2021 issue of all Leaf Magazines.

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