In honor of Women’s History Month, The Weed Blog is highlighting several fascinating women from the cannabis industry. Today, we’re featuring Eco Firma Farms Co-Founder Kate Guptill. Eco Firma Farms is an industry leader in sustainable cannabis. Through a partnership with Energy Trust of Oregon, Eco Firma operates entirely on clean wind energy and will eventually transition to solar power. They’re Gold Certified by Green Mountain Energy and flower over 50 cultivars, including their popular Hazy Girl, Voodoo Child, and Canbyland—a strain named after Kate and husband/co-founder Jesse Peters’ hometown, Canby, Oregon, where Eco Firma’s energy efficient recreational cannabis facility stands on old berry farm and reclaimed jam manufacturing facility. Both her farm and her cannabis receive top honors throughout the industry. Learn what inspires Kate’s incredible journey and more in this insightful Q&A.
How did you get into the MMJ/cannabis industry?
It started in the early 2000s, growing a few plants in a container grow box. That quickly graduated into a small grow room in our basement. Cannabis wasn’t yet an industry. It was all still a secret. We couldn’t rely on Google or YouTube for answers, so there was a lot of experimentation and a lot of failure.
Explain what your current job in the industry is.
Currently, I am handling the finance and operations management at our recreational facility at Eco Firma Farms. I also run all aspects of the medical garden at another location. We are expanding to include concentrates processing and I plan to take that division on, as well. My background is finance, but I miss working with the plants if I’m away too long, so I’m creating a hybrid position.
What’s the biggest misunderstanding about your job?
As a woman, people assume my job is doing anything other than the growing. I’ve been growing as long as, or longer, than a lot of people in the industry and I know many other women growers have, too. Also, people assume that working at a cannabis farm is a weed-celebration every day. People outside the industry are starry eyed when they see the plants or watch us harvest. In reality, it’s hard work and it’s stressful. It’s going home with sticky clothes and reeking of weed all the time. My car permanently smells.
Do you have to deal with the stigma around marijuana from family or friends? At your job? If so, how do you manage it?
My job is exclusively in cannabis, so no problems there. My friends and family see the time and effort I put into my work and they are proud of me. I find that most people are intrigued by the industry and want to learn more. You’ll find my dad visiting the farm on any given day. He even brings his friends sometimes. Everyone has been very supportive.
How do you believe we can de-stigmatize cannabis?
We need to be comfortable talking about it in settings outside the industry and show the world that we are not criminals. We are not stoned 24 hours a day. I have neighbors that were shocked and angry that I didn’t tell them about my job. They felt like I was hiding something. To them, cannabis growers are criminals. They’re drug lords, not the nice neighbor that brings carrots over to your horses on Sundays. Funny thing is, now those same neighbors take the samples we give them. So many people use cannabis—doctors, teachers, police officers—but they don’t talk about it. If we start talking about it openly, we change the image.
What is the most powerful benefit of MMJ in your opinion?
We’ve heard the amazing stories of how cannabis has changed lives. We know there are medical benefits. I think having an alternative to prescription medications can be life changing. For so long, many patients have been stuck taking pills to treat the side effect of the pills. To have options now is powerful. Over the years, I’ve used it to treat my dogs for different conditions: cancer, arthritis, anxiety, and post-surgical pain. I work closely with our veterinarian to determine the appropriate treatment and we have seen great success.