Master Grower Interview with David Perron of The Green Organic Dutchman

Evan Veryard sits down with David Perron, VP of Growing Operations at The Green Organic Dutchman (TSE: TGOD) to discuss growing organic cannabis at scale.


Capital 10x: I have with me a very special guest often referred to as the pioneer of organic cannabis cultivation, David Bernard-Perron. Thanks for being here today David.
David Perron: Yes, thanks for having me.
Capital 10x: For those of you don’t know David is the vice president of growing operations at TGOD and just to give you a bit of background why we’re sitting here today having this conversation, it all started when we went to TGOD’s offices to interview Sean Bovingdon and really we were having these conversations and it kept coming back to the challenges that you guys are going be facing growing organic cannabis at scale. Is it going to be possible, what are those economists going to look like?
He suggested we talk to the man behind the curtain, the person making it all possible, the master grower and that’s you David. Obviously we took him up on that offer. We’re sitting here today and so just to get the ball rolling why don’t we start with a bit of an overview of TGOD’s Canadian organic operations?
David Perron: Currently we have two greenhouse in construction and also two other
facilities where we’re currently producing our medical supplies. So we have a small production facility in Valleyfield, Quebec where we produce some of our medical flowers and also we do a bunch of our indies.
We’re setting up the ground, selecting a bunch of strains and doing a lot of the groundwork for what’s coming up in those greenhouses. We have the initial TGOD facility that is in Ancaster, Ontario. That was the original facility that they acquired from the previous owners on this beautiful little farmland in Ancaster Ontario. We’re growing most of our medical supplies from this place as well but and we’re just moving into the new facility into the new pharma building and a new greenhouse that are just beside it.
Capital 10x: Awesome, that sounds great. Why don’t we start diving into a little bit about your background as the master grower. Education a little bit and then your role. I was doing a bit of reading beforehand and I think you started in agriculture cultivation at age
David Perron: The first job I got was in greenhouse production. We were working in a poinsettia greenhouse production in my hometown in Quebec and actually it was the first people that I met there who were also professors at a horticultural school that really made me see all the science that’s behind growing — you have to keep your efficiencies because margins are thin and all that. So it was really interesting and it had a lot of influence on me for that later work.
So that led me into studying agriculture at McGill University. I did a Bachelor into in plant science and then I got invited to do a master in organic agriculture so I stayed to do that and moved out of the West for the lifestyle. Never thought for a second that I would be growing cannabis, but the west coast being what it is and ended up having an apartment where it was like within five minute walk of three or four grows because they’re growing everywhere there and I got a job in a grow which was Whistler Medical Marijuana. That was my first in into the space.
Capital 10x: And that’s also the first certified organic cannabis growing facility right?
David Perron: Yeah.
Capital 10x: You were what the agriculturist?
David Perron: Agrologist is the technical term. I did everything from building a growing program there from scratch, organic certification, everything from optimizing, anything that had to do with the plans to workflows, climate control, selecting the strains, so
what’s amazing cloning process. Lots of lessons learned. Still, we’re learning everyday stem out especially with scales come new challenges but at least we have a very solid base to build under.
Capital 10x: Can you maybe give us some examples of some specific lessons learned from those Whistler days?
David Perron: A big one was building the nutrient management program. Building up the pretty different deterioration of the living soils and organic growing and optimizing that to have a very competitive yield without compromising on quality so we were able to have some very cool success stories there.
So we’re making new recipes that are better with more resources and have access to more experts in the industry so now we’re really bringing that to the horticultural level, commercial level where we really can just be successful at scale. So that’s the part it’s very exciting to us and now we get to bring those back under the sun and
that’s really where it’s going to be a complete game changer.
Those plans have been wanting to go back there for a while and with the system that we’ve built as well I think it’s really where we’re going to see the synergy between the growing program and amazing hybrid greenhouse facilities that were growing. We’re basically building this super indoor grow with a glass roof so it’s gonna be awesome to see the living cell what we do and that’s what really makes us different.
Being certified organic by two different independent third party Eco Cert and Pro Cert the big difference is that the first were allowed to use in organic agriculture it cannot be modified chemically prior to use as were hydroponic we’re just using chemical water-soluble salt and just pump that through your rock wall medium and you don’t need biology whereas the living cell we’re building this is all about who’s coming from and that biology is going to do the work of making those fertilizers available for the plant and then we’re going to get a bunch of intermediary step from that so we’re gonna have the phosphorous coming from a fishbowl meal as an example all the way to the elemental atomic phosphorous to the plants.
The plant cannot take anything from very complex large organic molecule to simple elements so we really put the plant in charge in the system and so it’s
really about a reactor that’s driving those processes for us what the plants doing in a system. It’s taking sugar that it’s producing to photosynthesize so it’s using light to synthesize sugar using co2 and water and it’s pumping all of that sugar into the root exudates — it’s basically sweating sugar — and so it’s feeding those beneficial fungi bacteria, amoeba, protozoa, and nematodes, you name it — this whole soil food web and when we do things right that’s where the secret recipe comes in a little bit we have this beautifully elegant system that the more lights we get the more sugar the plant can produce. The more sugar the plant can produce the more it’s pushing into the soil and the more sugar in the soil the more nutrients coming back into the plant.
This is where we have this awesome positive feedback loop that as long as you do things right you keep your soil moist and your environmentals right you have this super awesome yield with this high quality so random producing we ended up having as good yields as a conventional system like would have with better quality.
Capital 10x: Higher THC content.
David Perron: And especially terpenes.
Capital 10x: That comes from the sun?
David Perron: That comes from the Sun but it comes from also a lot of interaction and the cross stock web between just all biology in the plants. A little bit like when you’re exposed to more elements so if you get a vaccine and you get exposed to viruses and then you build immunity — plants immunity is it’s often those secondary metabolites are THC, CBD, terpenes those flavonoids — so when we put these plants in an environment… we don’t put pathogenic bacteria stuff to go to determine somebody but we would put it in an environment that’s rich in biodiversity so it’s priming the plants immune response system so it fights with some stuff so they’re loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and all that so what’s really cool with cannabis is we test everything so thoroughly from the pesticides, the nutrients, medicinal value, THC, CBD, terpenes, where we don’t really have to do that for food, but it’s been proven that food produced higher density rich nutrients when it’s run on an organic system and now we see the same thing in cannabis. We have higher terpene values, higher medicinal values in cannabis that’s been produced in a well-designed organic system.
Capital 10x: So it sounds like a pretty great system. You have higher yields or better quality and it’s a healthier plant at the end of the day so I mean some might think of as a disadvantage can also be looked at as a big advantage when it comes to growing organic cannabis.
David Perron: People refer to disadvantage. Historically, people thought we would have to compromise and yield so you give a little bit of yield for a higher quality you all system evolve. We’re in a better now, we can prove that and we see that in other conventional organic production system so we see that in horticulture with tomatoes, cucumber and stuff like that so the most profitable greenhouses are the organic system that are doing better. Agricultural Canada just provided a census last year saying that organic corporations are more profitable and conventional across the old agricultural board in Canada at the moment.
And we’re building the system and now it’s not true. Even other professions in horticulture will tell you know that you can have as good as yields using like those more complex systems so you’re talking a different kind of agricultural language now but you’re able to get as much yield with higher quality.
Capital 10x: Excellent. So just kind of slowly wrapping things up can you talk a little bit about the actual organic certification itself. You obviously can’t put in chemical fertilizers and all your inputs have to be the natural but what else is involved? Is it hard to maintain once you’ve acquired the certification? What does that look like?
David Perron: It’s another layer that we add into the compliance of all things so we have Health Canada but we have also the organic certification. So we’re compliant with the Canada and standard for organic production so we’re held to the same standard as the food you will find in a supermarket so we see that kind of a standard for a certified organic.
We’re operating under the same standard so it basically means we’re not using any product that’s been modified chemically prior to use so we can only use natural processes of fermentation, distillation, bio digestion. We need a good amount of biology. It’s a third party coming to your site that audits you.
They look at all the fertilizer you’re using, what are you keeping, they look in your cupboard to see if you’re not hiding anything. You have to provide proof of purchase for all those documents. They do a nutrient balance on your farm just to make sure what you’re getting can only be coming from those nutrients. They also do surprise pesticide tests.
There’s a big element about sustainability so we prove that you can recycle pots, reuse soil when you can, don’t waste stuff in the little creek behind your grow.
Capital 10x: You have good water sustainability too.
David Perron: Yes, we do. We collect 90% of our rainwater and we’re using that to irrigate and for the organic standard certification they come and you have to provide them with a list of every fertilizer we’re using, where is the water coming from, and already certified organic already approved for use in certified organic context and then they’re going give us their stamp of approval… Yes TGOD you are certified that you are producing using only clean and natural resource inputs.
Capital 10x: With meeting these regulations and some of those inputs is that a significantly higher operating costs or are all the more expenses in the capital costs for the greenhouse?
David Perron: It’s a little bit of both, but when it comes to capital cost because we build better infrastructure one of them is we automate a lot of our stuff but also we have to automate for a bigger soil volume instead of like a really small, light rock wall kind of thing, but also a lot of the nutrients we are using have to be delivered to the plant to point not all that and we’re working on a new solution for that with some very promising stuff we can make most of our stuff water soluble.
But it comes into the labour cost a little bit because we go in there we pay more attention, we do more scouting. You go and touch the plant. We get a better product but also we’re a better company in general, social ecosystem. We employ more people those people work in better condition and work in clean environment and get better wages so this is for a better part of the social fabric in the community where we’re established as well so that’s something we’re really proud of.
Capital 10x: That’s awesome. That’s something I don’t think many cannabis companies ever talk about is the sustainability or even that social aspect. That’s great, I think that’s an excellent note to end on. Thank you very much for coming in.
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The opinions provided in this article are those of the author and do not constitute investment advice. Readers should assume that the author and/or employees of Capital 10X hold positions in the company or companies mentioned in the article. For more information, please see our Content Disclaimer.

Evan Veryard has a Bachelor's of Chemical Engineering from McGill University and a MaSc. of Chemical Engineering from RMC. He has over 6 years of research experience focusing on industrial materials. Address: 682 Indian Road, Toronto, Ontario, M6P 2C9. Phone: 416-721-8257.
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