“The Plants Don’t Care I’m Female,” A Conversation with Eco Firma Farms Boss Lady Kate Guptill
As Co-founder and Vice President of Operations and Finance at Eco Firma Farms, Kate Guptill is a distinguished female presence in the cannabis industry.
Bringing more than a decade of experience in medical marijuana cultivation to the community, Kate and her husband Jesse Peters formed Eco Firma Farms in Oregon state in 2012.
Today, Eco Firma Farms is one of the most widely recognized cannabis brands, known for their efforts in the local community, eco-sustainability, and producing quality products people love.
The company is Oregon’s first to operate solely on wind power, and the Eco Firma Farms team is on a continual mission to reduce their carbon footprint—with a goal to one day be completely carbon neutral. Today, the farm is 100 percent powered by renewable wind energy and its flower is cultivated using entirely organic pest, mold, and mildew controls.
Guptill took a few moments to sit down with Viride to talk about women in cannabis, her love for animals, and her transition from government work with Oregon’s Department of Justice to full-time cannabis cultivator.
V: Eco Firma Farms has made tremendous strides in reducing their carbon footprint by using wind farms to power the facility. Was this a difficult transition for your company to make?
KG: Our medical garden has operated on wind power for several years now. We were actually the first Oregon farm to be powered solely by wind energy. The government here has set up a great program for companies and individuals to reduce their carbon footprint. Our goal is to be completely carbon neutral, and it’s a challenge, but it’s important to us and the community, and for the planet. We want to set a standard in the industry because we will all benefit from it. In Oregon, there are resources readily available to support sustainable practices, so the more difficult side of it is working to reframe the conversation about how businesses in all sectors approach the environment, and working to help people the world over understand the benefits of supporting the environment.
V: You’re a well respected woman in the cannabis community. That’s a great accomplishment for an industry that is male dominated. Did you find it difficult to make your way?
KG: The more challenging part of this whole adventure has been mastering the art of sustainability, growing high quality cannabis, and doing it consistently. The plants want good quality care and people deserve a responsibly cultivated high quality product. The plants don’t care I’m female, and neither do the people who enjoy Eco Firma’s products. Yes, by the numbers, it is a male dominated industry, but it’s not male dominated in Oregon. Some of the most influential people in the Oregon industry are women. On the whole, we are a new industry—there’s opportunity for women to have a dominating presence.
Viride: What made you decide to leave Oregon's Department of Justice for a career in the cannabis industry?
Kate Guptill: I’d been in medical cannabis for many years. Eco Firma had a presence in the medical market since 2012, so when recreational laws passed, we made the decision to open a recreational garden while keeping our medical garden open. I decided if I was going to do this well, I needed to make the jump.
V: What advice would you have for other women looking to start their own cannabis business?
KG: I’d give the same advice for anyone, male or female. Be prepared to work hard for twice the risk and half the reward. We still don’t have banking and we’re taking a lot of risks on our own. Get to know the people in your community and industry because they will be your biggest supporters. Join groups and associations. Bounce ideas off other people in the industry. It’s where you get the most support, which is important.
V: As an aside...You’re also a certified pet massage therapist. With infused products now available for pets, have you found use for cannabis in this arena?
KG: I use pet focused products with our dogs for arthritis and anxiety, mainly. It works so well, but it’s not for all pets. It’s the same with people. It doesn’t work for everyone, so some people have to try different techniques. It’s important for people to remember that animals metabolize medications differently. I have one dog who doesn’t like it. I have another dog who has anxiety and it works amazingly well. Vets will often prescribe traditional tranquilizers for anxiety. Since they’re under the influence of a tranquilizer, pets still experience fear and anxiety, but they just can’t physically express it. Cannabis formulated for pets can be more truly effective in this regard.
V: What’s the latest at your company, Eco Firma Farms?
KG: We are currently working on the first harvest at our new facility. We focused on sustainable growing methods and we’re excited to see the outcome. We have great new strains. We’ll have them out to dispensaries and the pictures go up on the website as soon as we complete harvest and curing. Gas Mask is amazing. It’s an uplifting strain that has a super chill high. It’s something you would enjoy before cleaning your garage—really motivating. We’re also working on a number of causes important to us. Animal rescue is a big one. Also, supporting our veterans. It’s important to take care of the community.
V: Many cannabis companies have tried making charitable contributions, but have met with quite a bit of resistance. Have you had a hard time getting people to accept your charitable donations when the money comes from marijuana?
KG: Actually, quite a few said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” But, that’s changing and people are becoming more open to it. Those of us who’ve been in the industry long enough are used to this. We had trouble getting business cards printed years ago and that’s not a problem anymore. We’re making small strides. People are recognizing that there are medical and many other benefits to cannabis.
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