Cannabis plants could be replacing flowers and trees in the greenhouses of Georama Growers by next year.
Kootenay Outdoor Producer Co-op, which hopes to sell local cannabis once it is legalized this summer, has made a conditional offer to purchase the 20.5-acre property in Blewett.
Georama has been operating since 1970, and is currently listed for sale at $2.05 million. Todd Vera, the co-op’s president, said the offer is not for the business, which would continue operating this year.
If the purchase is completed, the co-op would take on some of the greenhouses while Georama operates in the majority of the complex. Then in 2020, the co-op would move into more of the buildings and Georama would lease a couple greenhouses.
“We’re not looking to grow mature cannabis plants at Georama’s greenhouses. We’re looking to become a large nursery operation, not just for the tens of thousands of cones that we’re going to need internally but also outdoor and indoor cones for the home markets and the other licensed markets,” said Vera.
Vera said the co-op is in the process of raising $1.5 million, and already has 110 of the 150 public investors needed. He added a business plan will be in place by the end of May, at which time they’ll decide whether or not to go ahead with the offer.
“We believe with that much skin in the game from literally hundreds of people across the Kootenays, the funding and the financing and the granting institutions will look at us very favourable.”
Vera, a Kaslo farmer, helped launch the co-op in the summer of 2017. When it started, the co-op included 120 members from 35 communities.
The initial plan was for the co-op to provide plants, labourers and infrastructure, while host farmers earned profits for land use.
The possibility of taking over Georama, however, would give the co-op a large-scale site near Nelson it can grow into. Vera said the land has 15 acres currently empty that could be expanded on to make edibles and textiles.
“Being able to get a greenhouse complex so close to Nelson, because we’re looking to do hand-trimmed smokeables, we’re going to have an operation where we could have 300-400 people working 24 hours a day for a couple months. Pretty much like a tree planting camp.”
If the deal is completed, Vera said plants would go into the ground next spring. He said the move would guarantee the Kootenays don’t lose out to private companies post-legalization.
“What has made the Kootenays what it is, I would argue, is the peaceful side of illegal weed,” he said. “If we don’t get our hands into the peaceful side of legal weed, all of us gets left behind.”