Fluent in the language of cannabis cultivation, Ananda Farms clearly defines the “three T’s” of its operation while alluding to loftier goals in the origins of its name. WAM sat down with Ananda’s Erik Leib for a one-on-one tutorial on the farm’s history, business model and values that set it apart from others in Southern Oregon.
WAM: Where is Ananda Farms located, and why is that significant to the quality the brand represents?
LEIB: In the heart of the Siskiyou mountain range, in the Applegate Valley town of Williams, you will find Ananda Farms. As the crow files, that is approximately 55 miles east of the coast and 15 miles north of the California border. This unique location and environment provide a special microclimate that produces some of the highest-quality cannabis not only in Oregon but internationally. This lush environment with beautiful, green forests is very conducive to a vast assortment of plant and animal life. Pristine sources of air and water, along with hot, dry summers, provide a longer growing season, among other benefits.
WAM: How did Ananda Farms come to exist in Oregon’s recreational market?
LEIB: I moved to Williams in 1999 and started cultivating medical cannabis in 2001. For 11 years (the last four as farm manager), I was involved in farming operations for the largest culinary and medicinal tincture company. Here, I learned how to grow and maintain over 50 different botanicals for essential-oil and therapeutic compounds. Providing large quantities of exceptional-quality, finished leaf, flower and root of each cultivar was a similar goal then, as it is now. This experience, my love for all plants and dedication to cannabis paved the way for Ananda Farms. When Oregon decided to open the application process for recreational licensing in 2015, I decided that I wanted to be one of the first names in the hat. We submitted a full application on Jan. 1, 2016, and were able to acquire one of the first 50 producer licenses in time for a full-season crop within the same year.
WAM: What does the name Ananada Farms represent, or to what does it refer?
LEIB: “Ananda (a-NAN-da)” is a Sanskrit word that translates to “an extreme happiness or bliss, one of the highest states of being.” Anandamide is a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that binds to endocannabinoid receptors in the body’s nervous system. I love cannabis, and it is very clear to me that my purpose is to cultivate edible and medicinal plants for nutrition and well-being. When consumed, Ananda Farms flowers and derivative products carry with them my dedication to craft cultivation, the terroir of this special land it is grown on and the genuine care of the crew that produces it.
WAM: Who is head grower and how many employees does Ananda Farms have?
LEIB: As head grower, I am on the farm working side by side with our crew every day. I currently employ four on-site crew members. I love being involved with every aspect from selecting genetics to deciding on when and how to harvest and every detail of the drying, curing and handling of finished flower. Maintaining consistency in all of these phases is what I am there to do.
WAM: What makes being an employee of Ananda Farms different than the stereotypical cannabis-industry employee?
LEIB: Luckily, the folks who work here have arrived organically through friendships and colleagues, and they all want to be here and are very passionate and excited about their involvement. They are local residents who have been here since the beginning and have plans to remain. Ananda Farms provides living wages and paid holidays in conjunction with workers compensation insurance. The farm is inspected by the Occupation Safety and Health Administration, and they have to attend the proper safety meetings in accordance with that. We have sought to be covered just like any other agricultural farm in Oregon. So I would say consistency and true love for growing medicine. The energetics and morale are very important.
WAM: How do you evaluate the genetics that you choose?
LEIB: They have to be strains I love to smoke; that comes first. Second, they must be of the highest-quality genetics from reputable breeders. Third, they must inherently be healthy and vigorous plants. Fourth, each cultivar needs to grow well on our specific piece of land, taking into account seasonal fluctuations of weather and daylight hours.
WAM: What do “tilth,” “terroir” and “terpenes” mean?
LEIB: One thing I use to promote our brand are those “three T’s.” The tilth is the health of the soil. The terroir is where you are growing, what kind of soil you’re growing in, the climate, the water and the geographical location of the farm. The terpenes are compounds that work with cannabinoids to create unique profiles for each strain. On the farm, I have taken the native mountain soil and have built it up with organic matter that increases the biology. We take regular soil tests to balance the minerals necessary for optimal plant health. By applying these practices within this environment, Ananda Farms is able to produce high-quality, cannabinoid- and terpene-rich medicine.