Rebel Grown, a small-scale cannabis farm in Craftsbury, Vermont, has achieved a prestigious recognition for its organic and sustainable cultivation methods. The farm is the first on the East Coast to be certified by Sun+Earth, a nonprofit organization that promotes regenerative organic cannabis farming.
What is Sun+Earth Certified?
Sun+Earth Certified is a third-party certification program that was launched in 2019 by a coalition of cannabis industry leaders, activists, and experts. The program aims to support cannabis farmers who grow their crops under the sun, in the soil, and without the use of synthetic chemicals or pesticides. Sun+Earth also requires that the farms respect the rights and well-being of their workers and their communities.
According to its website, Sun+Earth Certified is based on three pillars:
- Earth Care and Cultivation: The farms must use practices that enhance soil health, biodiversity, and water conservation. They must also avoid soil tillage, plastic mulch, and fossil fuels.
- Human Empowerment: The farms must pay their workers a living wage, provide safe and healthy working conditions, and respect their labor rights. They must also support social justice and equity in the cannabis industry and beyond.
- Community Engagement: The farms must engage with their local communities and contribute to their social and environmental causes. They must also educate consumers and policymakers about the benefits of regenerative organic cannabis.
Sun+Earth Certified claims that its standards are more rigorous and comprehensive than the USDA Organic standards, which do not apply to cannabis due to its federal illegality. The certification also aims to differentiate regenerative organic cannabis from indoor or greenhouse-grown cannabis, which has a larger carbon footprint and environmental impact.
How did Rebel Grown become Sun+Earth Certified?
Rebel Grown is a half-acre cannabis farm that is part of a 200-acre permaculture sanctuary in Craftsbury, Vermont. The farm has been growing hemp and cannabis since 2018, and obtained a license for adult-use cannabis in 2022, after Vermont legalized recreational sales.
Rebel Grown uses a variety of regenerative organic practices to grow its cannabis, such as:
- Cover cropping with rye grass and clover to suppress weeds, retain moisture, and add nutrients to the soil.
- Mulching with organic alfalfa to prevent erosion, regulate temperature, and suppress pests and diseases.
- Composting with manure from various farm animals to enrich the soil with organic matter and beneficial microorganisms.
- Incorporating maple syrup from the farm’s trees in compost teas to feed the plants and enhance their flavor and aroma.
Rebel Grown also grows its cannabis alongside other food crops, such as tomatoes, peppers, kale, and garlic, to create a diverse and resilient ecosystem. The farm does not use any synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides, and relies on natural predators, such as ladybugs and praying mantises, to control pests.
Rebel Grown applied for Sun+Earth certification in 2023, and underwent a rigorous inspection and verification process by the organization. The farm received its certification in January 2024, becoming the first on the East Coast to do so. Rebel Grown joins more than 60 other farms in five states that have earned the Sun+Earth seal of approval.
What are the benefits of Sun+Earth Certified cannabis?
Rebel Grown’s owner, Dan Pomerantz, said that he chose to pursue Sun+Earth certification to demonstrate his commitment to producing high-quality, healthy, and ethical cannabis. He also said that he wanted to be a role model for other cannabis farmers and consumers who care about the environment and social justice.
“Cannabis grown regeneratively, under the sun and in the soil, without toxic chemicals, is not only high quality but also the best for the earth,” Pomerantz said. “We capture carbon through our plants, and sequester it in the ground where it can be recycled through our living soils. Rebel Grown became Sun+Earth Certified to bring high-quality, healthy, ethically-farmed cannabis to the people of Vermont, and to become a model for regenerative organic agriculture everywhere.”
Pomerantz also said that Sun+Earth certification helps him differentiate his products from the mass-produced, indoor-grown cannabis that dominates the market. He said that his customers appreciate the natural and artisanal quality of his cannabis, as well as the positive impact it has on the planet and the people.
Rebel Grown’s products are available in over 20 dispensaries across Vermont, and include a variety of strains, such as Lemon OG, Sour Diesel, and Purple Punch. The farm is also known for its award-winning genetics, which have won several accolades, such as The Emerald Cup’s Breeders Cup in 2018, 2022, and 2023.
The Cannabis Retailers Association of Vermont, a trade group that represents the state’s cannabis businesses, congratulated Rebel Grown on its achievement and praised its contribution to the industry and the community.
“Rebel Grown is setting the standard for regenerative cannabis farming in Vermont and beyond,” said the association’s spokesperson. “We are proud to have them as a member of our association and a leader in our industry. Their products are not only of the highest quality, but also reflect their values and vision for a more sustainable and equitable cannabis future.”