From Soil to Oil: How one man bucks the trends and makes a living using natural methods in the highly competitive cannabis industry

Shawn Honaker

Shawn Honaker is not your typical cannabis entrepreneur. In a market filled with high tech systems that are designed to maximize yields, and Wall Street tycoons that are hell bent on shareholder growth, Honaker is different. For starters, he doesn’t seem to care all that terribly much if he is doing everything possible to maximize profits. For him, the goal is always to make the best product possible, even if that means living with lower profit margins.

Honaker owns and runs Yeti Farms in Pueblo, Colorado. He has been at it for almost two decades, and in that time, he has created a most unusual operation.

Instead of growing plants indoors using high tech artificial lighting, Honaker’s plants are grown outdoors underneath the sun. He says that artificial lights will never be able to create the same character, full-bodied profile, and richness in plants as Mother Nature.

“I didn’t believe in the future of indoor cultivation… I’ve never had sweet corn from a warehouse that tasted good,” Honaker said.

Today, many cannabis entrepreneurs are building football field size warehouses to grow plants in tightly controlled indoor environments, but Honaker marches to the beat of his own drum.

Instead of using artificial fertilizers, he makes his own from batches of natural ingredients that go into his Bokashi – a Japanese process of composting, from the word meaning “fermented organic matter.”

Some of his other unconventional techniques for growing cannabis include vermicomposting – the art of using red worms instead of chemicals to hasten the breakdown of organic materials; and allowing chickens to run free in his fields, adding both natural fertilizer and pest control.

Honaker’s organic approach to cannabis farming is not the only thing that makes his farm unique. He also is one of the few farmers that doesn’t sell his cannabis flower. He turns all his plants into oils and concentrates. As he says, his farm is all “soil to oil.”

Honaker’s dedication to keeping his processes as close to nature as possible is seen throughout the farm. Unlike many other farmers, Honaker uses the entire plant – fan leaves, sugar leaves, and buds. After the plant is removed from the ground, the parts are all combined and cured for upwards of two months. After that, the material is ground and extracted into a variety of products including wax, shatter, live resin, and a variety of other forms of concentrates.

The in-house standards that Yeti Farms uses for their products are very strict, 50 times stricter than the state’s standards. No product leaves the facility if it tests over 100 parts per million for residual solvents (the state’s threshold is 5000 ppm).

Honaker’s latest achievement is his recent introduction of a new product to the Colorado cannabis market that ironically uses technology to achieve its remarkable properties.

“Yetibles” are a new cannabinoid-infused gummy made with patented miscible technology, which produces molecules 25 nanometers in size. This technology enables the cannabinoids within the gummy to be absorbed within minutes of ingestion.

Why is this so important?

Typical edibles can take thirty minutes to two hours to work because absorption occurs in the digestive tract, with cannabinoids traveling to the liver to be metabolized before they are released back into the bloodstream, at which point the effects appear. This delay can cause a myriad of problems for a consumer, including ingesting too much when the effects aren’t immediately felt.

Honaker developed Yetibles to be different. Utilizing a patented process, Yetibles are absorbed in seconds to minutes, allowing the user to feel the effects almost immediately. Accordingly, Yetibles allow consumers to better determine the proper dosage for their individual needs and preferences.

And in keeping with Honaker’s “back to nature” philosophy, Yetibles are not sugar-coated and contain no artificial ingredients.

Honaker is living proof that you can still make a living in the fiercely competitive cannabis industry and use natural methods and organic techniques. It may take a little bit longer and cost a bit more to produce, but the resulting superb products make it all worthwhile.

It makes sense that Honaker chose the name “Yeti Farms” for his operation: Legend has it that the Yeti is a mysterious mountain-dwelling creature that finds pleasure in the back-country. Much like Honaker himself, whose motto is: “Keep it simple and take it back into nature.”

 

 


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