HUMBOLDT COUNTY, CA – PRESS RELEASE – Sun+Earth, the nonprofit certification program for regenerative organic cannabis, celebrates its one year anniversary on Earth Day. Founded on April 22, 2019, by cannabis industry leaders, experts and advocates with a common commitment to regenerative organic agriculture, farmer and farm-worker protections, and community engagement, Sun+Earth has more than doubled in size, certifying businesses across five states in the past year, demonstrating the consumer demand for regenerative organic cannabis grown under the sun by small-scale family farmers.
Amid the combined global crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerating climate change, and increasingly diminished local supplies of food and medicine, Sun+Earth Certified offers a model for ecological resiliency.
“If we’re serious about addressing the combined threats to our health, environment, and economy, we must take bold action quickly,” said Sun+Earth Executive Director Andrew Black. “The multi-billion dollar cannabis industry has a critical obligation to shift away from high levels of energy consumption and chemical-intensive farming practices, and Sun+Earth has the blueprint for how to do that."
In the one year since its founding, Sun+Earth has expanded from California to Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin, certifying 32 licensed businesses that sell their products in more than 350 retail outlets across the country. The Sun+Earth website has a list of certified farms and manufacturers, as well as a map of retail locations where certified products are sold. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when social distancing precautions preclude on-site visits and inspections to farms and manufacturers, Sun+Earth is making efficient use of online tools to remotely recruit and certify new organic farms and manufacturers in these and additional states this year.
The Sun+Earth seal sets itself apart from other organic programs by guaranteeing that certified businesses cultivate and manufacture products using cannabis grown under the sun with regenerative organic farming practices. The regenerative organic cultivation standards set by Sun+Earth encourage the planting of cannabis alongside food crops, and strategic use of cover crops, composting and reduced soil tillage. Regenerative organic farming practices help sequester carbon from the atmosphere, further reducing a farm’s carbon footprint. No chemical fertilizers or toxic pesticides are used to grow cannabis certified by Sun+Earth, whose standards go beyond USDA Organic to set additional criteria that benefit family farmers and farm-workers.
Industrial indoor cannabis production consumes high volumes of electricity, which puts the indoor cannabis industry at odds with collective efforts to mitigate the current climate crisis. According to a 2012 report, published by a University of California researcher, all cannabis grown in the US uses at least one percent of all electricity consumed in the country at a cost of $6 billion per year. Cannabis also uses the same amount of energy it takes to power 1.7 million U.S. homes, and generates greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 3 million cars. More recently, the 2018 Cannabis Energy Report from New Frontier Data found that indoor cultivation in the US produces 2.6 million tons of carbon dioxide or one pound of carbon emissions for each gram of harvested flower. The same report found that growing indoors uses 18 times more electricity and produces nearly 25 times more carbon than outdoor farms.
“As a society, we have been distancing ourselves from the earth for generations. To build resilience during this time of immense crisis, we must reconnect to the sources of our food, to our farmers, to our watersheds, and to our local communities; we’re being tested in very real ways,” said Joseph Haggard of Emerald Spirit Botanicals, a Sun+Earth Certified farm nestled in the mountains of Mendocino County. “In addition to cannabis, we cultivate numerous vegetable crops and plants that support the presence of beneficial insects, and we use natural fertilizers such as composted manure to keep our soil healthy and fertile. We want Emerald Spirit to be a model of resiliency for the entire cannabis industry, and that’s a big part of why we became Sun+Earth Certified."
“People rely on our products to improve their quality of life,” said Sally Alworth, co-owner of Luminous Botanicals based in Portland, Ore., the first manufacturer of full-spectrum tinctures and topicals certified by Sun+Earth. “We’ve always asserted a therapeutic orientation in our work. That’s why it’s so important to us to have the most responsibly sourced ingredients, and why we chose to become Sun+Earth Certified. We have a resilient team and are committed now, as much as ever, to providing our community the exceptional, high quality products they’ve come to expect from us.”