INTERVIEWER: Tyler Mentel, Head of Design, Hybrid Tech
INTERVIEWEE: Nelson Lindsley, Poetry of Plants
Q: Can you tell us how you got into cultivation consulting and some background on yourself?
In mid 2000s I was signed recording artist for Geffen Records. Cannabis was part of my creative expression. I was working a lot of audio and sound engineering and when the record label folded, I started cultivating cannabis for dispensaries. It was such a large part of my life. I wanted to learn how to grow it. My brother was a brain cancer survivor. Cannabis helped him during his recovery. I was intrigued by the idea of growing his medicine. When I started cultivating, I learned how to cultivate from other growers and studied their methods. I found their methods to be inefficient. My process became less about financial gain and more about exploration with controlled environment agriculture. At that point in time there were limited resources, so my growing systems were all DIY. I began experimenting with different hydroponic methodologies (aeroponic, flood/drain, soilless, dwc). I discovered that the technology hadn’t caught up with my dream of having a closed loop, sustainable indoor garden. As cannabis transitioned from the grey market to the mainstream medical market, I had an opportunity to share the techniques I learned from the past with other groups entering the medical market.
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Q: What do you feel is the best part about cultivation consulting?
I am constantly working with something that is alive and with every cycle there is always something new to learn. Everyone looks at gardening through their own lens. In sharing my perspective and experience I also get to share in others’ perspective and experiences.
Q: How did gardening start and how has the evolution of that been over time?
Homo sapiens began their lives as hunter/gatherers. Over time, systematic agriculture began with the beginning of civilization. Technology, however rudimentary it was in the past, was a part of agricultural evolution. Today, with the acceleration of innovative technology, we now grow plants very differently. Even with these advancements, most agriculture is completely inefficient. I think where we should be looking today and tomorrow is how do we grow plants that support our civilization by giving more back to the planet than taking away.
Q: What is your favorite innovative cultivation technology and/or method?
LED horticultural lighting. The LEDs have given me and my clients the ability to be energy efficient while increasing yield and chemotype expression. These lights have allowed advancements in vertical gardening and side lighting while introducing unique spectrums of light into the plant’s growth cycle. My preferred cultivation methodology varies on the context of the design, the operator’s skill set and the limitations of the space. That methodology should be focused on efficient use of the space available, market analysis, and operational budget. I always recommend to my clients that their grow methods focus on the efficient use of resources.
Q: In your opinion, how can design affect the success of your garden?
The design process of a garden is the most important part of the process. This step ensures that the operation from seed to sale is seamless and fluid. The number one way to ensure your garden’s success is to hire a skilled and seasoned design firm, such as Hybrid Tech, to ensure that you will be able to control the environment and meet your yield metrics. I have worked with Hybrid Tech on many projects over the past several years and they have helped turn the creative possibilities into tangible results.
Q: What would you say is the most critical factor in your success?
Three things: Creativity. Communication. Balance.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge in owning your own cultivation consulting business?
The biggest challenge has been navigating speculation in a very uncertain and new market. We all know that cannabis will become a commodity, if it hasn’t become one already. The journey of commoditizing cannabis is completely unknown. Cannabis has been cultivated and bred in an unregulated market for generations. It has been impacting our culture for generations. Today, we have to figure out how to negotiate the shadows from the light.
Q: What is your #1 tip for new people who want to get into gardening?
Grow a few plants. Keep a journal that documents everything that’s going on with the plant and the environment in which you are growing. If your garden does not yield your desired results, you can transform that failure into success by learning about how things went wrong. Failure is only failure if you give up!
Q: Can you tell us a little about the Poetry of Plants and some of the interesting work you’ve done?
Poetry of Plants started as an online format to share my work and to collaborate with gardens around the world through the internet. The online format transforms into a conduit to meet other gardeners and visit their farm to help them achieve better results. I’ve seen cannabis as far as the eye can see, on one property! I’ve been fortunate to visit high tech vertical grows as well as mountain top greenhouses, from Southern California to Canada.
Q: Finally, where can folks find out more about you?
Poetryofplants.com is coming soon!