Stewart’s Vertical Farms Inc. has been granted a Health Canada licence to cultivate and process cannabis and to sell into the medical market.
CEO Tanner Stewart said a full growing license to directly supply retailers like Cannabis NB is six months to a year away, but he expects to find a place then in the hearts of discerning buyers.
“The current cannabis consumer was taken for granted,” said Stewart. “Never disrespect a stoner ’cause those are the people who buy all the weed.
“Our target is the fussiest illicit market consumer, so the cannabis connoisseur. So a lot of those connoisseurs are still buying from the illicit market, and they spend most of the money, so we are really aiming to give those consumers an excuse to go into Cannabis NB.”
Stewart, who uses the words “cannabis” and “weed” interchangeably, said his company is a part of a second wave of producers focusing on the premium market, which he compares to the craft beer industry.
The company has set up shop in a 10,000-square-foot space in the former SWP Industries building in the St Stephen Industrial Park.
They are currently adding five employees to double the number of people on site.
Stewart said in future phases they will expand into the full 100,000 square feet available in the building, integrating a tilapia-growing operation that will produce both market fish and waste nutrients for the plants.
At that point, he expects to have 100 employees or more.
He described the Health Canada licence as a huge milestone for the company, which has been working toward it for the past two and a quarter years.
“It was the longest journey I’ve ever taken in my business career,” he said.
Stewart Farms opened next door in the industrial park to another cannabis growing company, Tidal Health Solutions.
St Stephen Mayor Allan MacEachern said it’s a promising trend.
“Cannabis growers kind of took over our industrial park,” said MacEachern. “By having multiple cannabis growers in our area, you create this synergy between them.”