I was invited to observe the production at American Green, the Zonka OG hub of production. I could only tell you my excitement as this cultivation is starting fresh, with a clean medicine standard at their cultivation that would be admired statewide. It is both a privilege and an amazing advantage to know in detail about any grow I could be shopping with. I know, and have had the great experience of working with their General Manager, Bryan Crouteu. He is a man of good heart, and the best standards in the business, so I knew this visit to the OG Zonka crew would be special as the facility has come into its own. A sprawling complex filled with some of the best smells, cleanest corners, and best looking cannabis by a staff, which genuinely cares. I met with their lead cultivator Beau Sullivan, and we proceed to the flower rooms where the plants are nearing their end of growth cycle before harvest.
A good grow, this grow, has ideal room conditions which makes for growing the best cannabis possible. Think about your best day outdoors, but fans instead of wind, imagining a cool breeze to represent the good air circulation, it is around 75*F with humidity around 60%, the equivalent to an overall pleasant day outdoors. The complex is fitted with CMH (Ceramic Metal Halide) Lights which Beau described perfectly, as a clean but greasy light, as if I were out mid-day in direct sun. The 40 lights per grow room wasn’t an overwhelming amount of light, or overly hot; it also didn’t feel as if I were stuck under supermarket fluorescent lights. The team handles all the plants with a clean and concise control of the room, precise plant canopy planning, along with care for lower branches down to the soil, with everything adjusted to get as much of the light, water, and air as possible. The well-style distribution watering set-up is unique, and allows the watering of each individual table while the water is monitored by its run-off for any changes. We’re joined by Jacob who is the Head Chef of OG Zonka and their soon to be edible line.
Photo by @_kingjayy
As we begin to move from each flower room, I see the diversity in genetics about to hit store shelves. In a sea of color from several of the rooms, you experience vivid greens, blues, purples, and some sunset oranges that match with their respective strains. Beau takes me through some of what patients can expect soon from the grow; strains like GDP, Tropicana Cookies, Sunset Sherbet, Blue Dream, Purple Kryptonite, Strawberry OG, White Widow, and Zonka Berry. The smells were just as satisfying as the sights, and in every batch of plants a terpene was coming through. Entire rooms have an underlying terpene profile, you get the strawberry water scent on the Strawberry OG, the zest of Blue Dream, but everything has a mango overtone to it, perhaps strong in myrcene throughout the plants in those rooms. Their established standard of at least 20 days to flush allows the plant to ready itself for a proper cure. Every flush of the cannabis is done with clean fresh water, which is monitored for clarity or changes until harvest. Testing is mandatory at this facility, so the ppm (parts per million) of any plant for additional nutrient is brought down to zero. These additional processes allow their team a chance to care for the plant as best as possible while also ensuring only the best product makes it to their patients.
We move through flower rooms of different age in the sprawling complex to a well-organized pre-flower veg room. These adults are kept warmer with a slight increase in humidity, and all of the plants were doing well. I walk into the clean room, with healthy adults of green in varying shades, with the most unique genetics of Beau’s curation. The average veg time is around 4 weeks, and the plants are monitored closely as they are all only hand-watered. Some of the new batches in veg included MAC, Big MAC, Apple Sundae, Samoa, Mimosa, The White, and White Tahoe. At OG Zonka, breaking away from common strains, while combining the discipline of strong standards means that patients will have a variety that is also consistent. At this point we have reached the start of another room of the cannabis life cycle, the clone and teen room.
Photo by @_kingjayy
As we enter, there are large reservoirs of Beau’s salt nutrient mixture for the next week or so of watering standing ready, while the rest of the massive room is where cuttings of strong plants are cloned then allowed to develop into their teens. I mention to Beau that I see the most variance in these rooms at other cultivations I’ve consulted for, usually caused by mishandling or a lack of cleanliness but OG Zonka does not have any signs of these problems. The adjacent baby clone room is under the watchful care of Tatianna, with Beau’s new choices in genetics like Citrus Splash, Strawnana Cookies n’ Cream, and Blue Bubblegum Trophy Wife being started. All of these genetics are of Beau’s collection or breeding, and if seeds are ordered it will be through Seed Connection. Clones are not brought in from outside, as every plant is started in house from seed until cure, then trim to ensure proper upbringing. Bryan takes a moment to bring my attention to the unique looking leaves of the clones; a tight crimp on every leaf he points out, is a result of rapid growth.
As I leave the clone area, thinking about that visible indicator of the doubling in size after a week across all their new clones, I start to see the unspoken goal set by those working in this grow for the best medicine, that they would desire for themselves. I get a moment with Bryan, Jacob, and Beau, so I ask what strains they’re excited for, “Bryan – Mango Nigerian, Jacob – Platinum Jelly or BIG MAC, and Beau – Apple Sundae.” We again start to move forward, now headed to an area I know well from experience, the trim and cure rooms. It’s an exceptionally clean room, but in the trim trays a fine layer of kief sits, along with several totes of newly cured-ready to be trimmed cannabis. The tote that has been put out for trim today is Sunset Sherbet, which looks and smells sensational, as the large bushy colas are trimmed down to sharp multi-color nugs. A door to the next room shows their hanging cure of several strains that were just harvested; it was three new phenotypes of Zonka OG, with long branches and heavy colas hanging to cure from several tiers of thin string.
Photo by @_kingjayy
Upon entering the cure area, I notice the cleanliness and that there are no other smells, other than cannabis in the room during cure. Using my nose, I always stay alert to mildew, which can be a wet towel smell, while looking like clumped baking soda on the buds, if you needed reference. This area only smells of Zonka OG, the earthy-butter smell is unique and when smoked later on, lulled me into some much needed rest. The cure and time hanging are carefully monitored, for a minimum 10 days, with most strains taking up to 21 days. They spend time in snap top totes, sealed and burped until trimmed, then moved into lb. bags. In every stage, the cannabis is checked and quality is verified to meet the standards of practice put into place by leadership. I wrap up with the grow information, and meet some of the crew while getting photos, then observing Jacob as he presses some rosin.
The Zonka OG Kitchen and extraction lab is happening, but as they wait on some things to finalize, Rosin is being pressed by Jacob, and being pressed well. He presses some Ice Water hash, and some GDP kief, working at a precise temperature around 2400psi, the squeeze is ideal. Jacob tells me about his Mom making blackberry and raspberry caramel while he uses the hand pump rosin press for one more squeeze. Chef tells me they are of Swedish descent, and he tells me his Mom used to make these homemade delights, thus Jacob will carry on the tradition at OG Zonka. The happiness I feel about the crew, being happy and excited about their product being excellent is unreal! So if you would like to experience this medicine for patients by patients, check out www.OGZonka.com. I was able to sit down with General Manager Bryan Crouteu and Lead Grower Beau Sullivan of OG Zonka to ask some questions.
Photo by @_kingjayy
When did American Green start cultivating?
Bryan: “July, 2018”
What is American Green?
Bryan: “American Green is a publicly owned company, which has a focus on investing in cannabis industry. They are one of the main investors of this grow, that has allowed us to produce our product of OG Zonka Flower, and Concentrate.”
What is your mission or some goals for the future?
Bryan: “Consistency, Consistency is paramount in what we do, Patients need to be able to rely on us, if GDP works for them, then it needs to work for them in 6 months because they’re spending some hard earned currency.”
What sets you apart from other grow facilities?
Beau: “Just our standards, our cleanliness and quality, all together we are a good crew which is what helps us stand apart.”
Photo by @_kingjayy
Beau, what is your background?
Beau:” Yeah, essentially I started growing in a closet in 2000, and just kept progressing forward. I moved to Colorado, continued growing there and moved back to AZ when medical started to start growing as a caregiver. I was contacted by a group in California called Elite Garden Nutrients and set up a grow site, a 100,000sq ft. facility, then moved back to Arizona where I linked up with OG Zonka.”
How do you think the cannabis market will change in AZ?
Beau: “I think in a positive direction, especially as the state issues mandatory testing requirements, which I see as a positive. I see the quality of cannabis in Arizona getting better.”
Why should patients take an interest in the cultivations growing their meds?
Bryan: “It’s important to know where your medication comes from, how it is grown and the style of grow, the care that’s put into it. As we get further and further into the mindset of people liking farm to table restaurants, the same applies for cannabis, people want to know what went into it, and was there care put into their meds.”
When do you guys expect National Reforms for cannabis to happen?
Bryan: “3-5 years” Beau: “Yeah, 3-5”
Photo by @_kingjayy
Why does legislation on regulations matter?
Bryan: “It brings accountability to those who are producing the medication; there is a standardized list of approved and not approved pesticides, but right now there is no “not approved” list. Cultivators can use whatever they want, and put out whatever kind of product they want with zero accountability from regulatory bodies. With standardized testing coming in, that will allow them to penalize them for using the incorrect grow methods or materials.”
Why is there a focus on testing standards, and why should patients care?
Beau: “Patients will know if they are getting clean meds, which is crucial, things like plant growth regulators, and pesticides have proven to be incredibly toxic when combusted.“
It should be the skill of the grower, and not the products they use.
Beau: “Yes, Exactly!”
Bryan: “One thing I’d like to touch on is we devote some time to putting out the best quality possible. We don’t put out product that we wouldn’t put our name on; we’d rather take the hit, and destroy the medication. It’s on our board in the trim area, “Trim it how you’d smoke it” we make sure the consistency in size, quality, and potency is there. We are a patient run organization so if we wouldn’t smoke it, it doesn’t go in the bag”
Are there any strains or products that you’re excited about and that patients should look for?
Bryan: “Yes! Our solventless rosin, it has been amazing, a concentrate that is high in terpenes and made with only the best product which shows in the end result.”
Any big announcements or cool things you’re working on that patients should know about?
Bryan: “We are currently working with the state to finalize the licensing on the infusion kitchen. OG Zonka line of edibles should be hitting the dispensary market within 60 days.”
Many thanks, and to find OG Zonka products, available at over 30 retailers, visit OGZonka.com
Photo by @_kingjayy