When the sun rises over the farmlands of Alberta’s prairie landscape, a multitude of agricultural cultivations are illuminated. From the soft neutral tones of a wheat field to the vibrant chartreuse of a canola field, our agriculture in many ways defines our province. If you are heading east toward the Saskatchewan border, just North of Oyen, it is possible you will catch a glimpse of a crop a little different from the others.
For the past two summers, True North’s conceptualizer, Shayne Hamilton, has been developing practices to effectively grow high quality cannabis crops. In amongst the traditional growing fields of barley and corn, there is now 340 acres of land dedicated to growing hemp. A city boy with a green thumb, Hamilton has had a keen interest in the world of agricultural cultivation for decades.
Embarking upon a growing endeavour of this magnitude was completely foreign to him. License to grow in hand, Hamilton approached a 3rd generation farmer in the fall of 2014 with the proposition to grow cannabis on a large scale. The farmer and his family welcomed Hamilton into their operation with a contagious passion. The family had been farming the land for over 100 years, accumulating a bank of experience and knowledge. Blood, sweat, and tears accurately describes the emotional peaks and valleys that are associated with learning to farm in this fashion.
Hamilton poured all of his resources into the idea of producing quality hemp products - he compares it to jumping off a bridge with hopes there is water underneath. Sleeping in his truck on the land, waking up early to perform rain dances, and measuring tiny sprouts - the first year was a tough one. No amount of money, or hope, can make it rain. Hamilton built a giant sprinkler in that first summer with attempts to add some moisture to the arid landscape. The contraption allowed him to water only a half inch over ten acres in a four day period. Although it was a challenge, they were still able to germinate over 30 acres of hemp. A hail storm eventually rolled over the land, causing major damage to Hamilton’s crop amongst other farmers losses. Cannabis is resilient though, just like Hamilton. Although the crop yield for that first season was low, the learning experience was invaluable and Hamilton was proud.
It was the lessons learnt in this first year that contributed to a greater success in the second year. Hamilton used his harvest to test strains for CBD and THC levels. Although the current goal is to create healthy edible hemp products for the majority - an ultimate ability to produce CBD products from a therapeutic perspective motivates the whole process. True North has a mandate to create a happier and healthier future for individuals. Being able to see hemp products through from the stage of purchasing seeds and harvesting plants, to packaging and distribution, creates a level of connection unsurmountable by other hemp companies. From seeds and soil to passion and dedication, True North is about as grass roots as it gets.