The small, sleepy southwestern Ohio town of Wilmington where not much has changed in 200 years provides an interesting contrast to their newest resident. Once claimed as a Shaker Village, Wilmington today is home to a college, antique shops, a lake and state park, and lots of farmland. And they are also now home to Ancient Roots—the city’s first legal medical cannabis cultivator.
The vision behind Ancient Roots came from CEO David Haley. Previous to earning a licence to cultivate cannabis, Haley owned and operated a medical device company, working closely with surgeons to ensure the best possible outcome for patients. In building Ancient Roots, Haley hoped to infuse that knowledge of patient care into his new company. With Ancient Roots, Haley wanted to create a patient-centric company, built on a foundation of trust and compassion for the patients of Ohio.
Leading the charge to produce the best products for the patients of Ohio, is Ancient Roots COO, Michelle Schrader. As a cancer survivor herself, Michelle feels an elevated sense of compassion and duty towards the patients of Ohio and strives to provide them access to the safest and highest quality products.
“It is so rewarding to watch the entire process and see the love and care that our team puts into each product from cultivation, slow curing, hand trimming to packaging all the way down to our delivery team,” Schrader said. “You know you are doing it right when you read a patient review about how our product helped change someone’s life. That’s why we do what we do every day! I feel very fortunate that I get to be a part of this ever so innovative industry and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Identifying cannabis-friendly communities to build grow facilities in Ohio in the first year of the legal medical marijuana program has proven a tough challenge for cultivators across the state. Haley and his team were lucky, though. They chose the small town of Wilmington to build their cultivation facility because the city accepted them with open arms.
“I really wanted to be in a municipality that was welcoming of it,” Haley said. “It’s a great town. They’ve had their challenges. They’ve lost some big industries in the past. But it’s a great community and they’ve been squarely behind us, which makes all the difference.”
Ancient Roots earned its Level II state license in 2018 and got to work building their facility shortly thereafter. Ohio’s Level I growers have 25,000 square feet of cultivation space and Level II growers are limited to 3,000 square feet. “The bigger you get, the more automated you have to get,” Haley explained. “So I think that’s kind of one of the advantages of the Level II’s is our size. We can do a lot more things hands-on.”
Two years into growing cannabis to supply to the Ohio dispensaries, Ancient Roots strives to produce the highest-grade, safest, and most consistent products for the state’s patients. They currently specialize in flower and concentrates, but have plans to expand to other forms of administration in the near future.
Cannabis Grown in Coco Coir
When examining various methods for growing cannabis, Ancient Roots had a lot of options to consider. The company’s focused commitment to growing high-quality craft cannabis helped them settle on coco coir, a soil-less growing medium composed of ground-up coconut husks. Coco coir provides numerous environmental and cultivation benefits over peat or rock wool. It increases aeration and retains water.
Ancient Roots produces 21 strains currently. Some of their featured flower products currently available include Blueberry, Peach Crescendo, NYC Chem, Golden Goat, and Mandarin Cookies.
Concentrates Via Ice Water Extraction
The attention to detail that elevates their plants also led to the creation of what Haley believes is Ancient Roots’ best new product—Fresh Frozen Live Rosin.
Much like the decision to use coco coir over rock wool, the Ancient Roots team, when it came to making concentrates, they had to consider the various methods by which resinous trichomes can be separated from the cannabis plant.
Ice water extraction that creates bubble hash is a solventless process to produce concentrates. In ice water extraction, raw cannabis flower is soaked in ice cold water and then agitated. Because trichomes are not water soluble, they are not dissolved. The temperature and gentle motion of the washing machine breaks the trichomes from the plant material and they sink to the bottom to be collected into micron filter bags. The trichomes are then dried out and the resulting material is what’s known as ice water hash.
Rylan St. John, head extractor at Ancient Roots, gave us a little insight into the process of producing solventless concentrates via the ice water extraction method and why it’s so beneficial for patients. “I think a lot of people are kind of new to the whole concentrate scene, and just aren’t familiar with what it really is, and how it’s made.”
St. John is a veteran of the industry having come to Wilmington from working in Colorado cultivars since 2013. Early on in the pioneering cannabis mecca of Colorado, St. John observed that other processors were producing BHO (butane hash oil) but his company was going a different route. “We chose solventless because it’s pretty much unadulterated, and it’s the most natural form. There’s no chemicals involved—just water, ice and pressure at the end.”
Rylan noted that solventless hash oil could potentially be better for your health than BHO. “A lot of people don’t realize that most concentrates are used with some sort of hydrocarbon gas, or even co2, which isn’t terrible… But you know you have to have a certain amount of parts per million left in there for butane and other hydrocarbon extraction. So yes, you are getting it tested, but I think that any amount of hydrocarbon gases being inhaled—whether it’s over time or even short period—is just not healthy. I think everyone can probably agree with that.”
Developing a solventless extraction process for concentrates at Ancient Roots also just so happened to be a good fit with the company’s mission and marketing. Ancient Roots employs a “more natural apothecary style vibe with our company and I think that’s another reason why we chose it,” St. John said.
Pressing Fresh Frozen Live Rosin
Ancient Roots uses their solventless ice water hash baths to press fresh frozen live rosin. The premium cannabis product boasts a lot of benefits over other types of concentrate. Live rosin captures more of the complete plant and chemical profile and has a higher concentration of terpenes than with other methods. Patients often report that live rosin has a more complex, fuller flavor, stronger aroma, and improved therapeutic benefits.
St. John shared some of the history behind how live rosin has meteorically risen in the world of concentrates in just the past five years. “With rosin, it was kind of an accident.” He mentioned that a lot of people in the very beginning were just pressing flower with hair straighteners. Eventually, these early concentrate innovators upgraded to t-shirt presses to press flower, and then from there it went to a larger scale. St. John noted that Ancient Roots uses a press from one of the first companies out of Colorado to actually develop and build a machine specifically for pressing rosin. “These machines haven’t been around for longer than a few years, two or three years at the most, I would say.”
Can I Get My Favorite Strain in Live Rosin?
One interesting point for patients to note is that, sadly, it’s not always possible for your favorite cannabis strain to be extracted into a live rosin product. St. John noted that there’s a lot of trial and error. “Some strains will come out very nice at one temperature and pressure and then some strains you’ll press at that same temperature and PSI and it will not do the same thing. So it’s really, really strain-specific when it comes to pressing and learning machines.
St. John’s hopeful Ancient Roots can continually improve upon the selection of live rosin the company provides Ohio patients. “ We’re kind of getting into researching, we’re going to be taking pictures at harvest of different types of trichomes to see if we can match them to something else that we’re going to harvest. And what we’ve found out is that you kind of want trichome heads that are very straight and narrow, so that when they’re in the washing machine they actually, they fall off easier ones that have kind of curled over and lean over on each other. But I think for sure, in the future, we’ll have a little bit more information on why it’s so strain specific.”
Live Rosin strains currently available for patients: Slurribreath, Platinum Kush Mints, Peach Crescendo, Lemon Kush, Sour Trop BX1
Live Rosin’s Benefit to Patients
St. John said he notices differences between when he’s used live rosin versus when he’s used BHO concentrates. “I think for rosin, it’s a very clear concentrate. I feel like when I vaporize rosin, it’s very clear-headed.”
As for how to legally vaporize fresh frozen live rosin in Ohio, St. John suggested beginner patients who purchase it consider pairing their product with some sort of handheld vaporizer, such as a vaporizer pen or a Puffco. “I know a lot of people have been using the Puffco,” St. John said. “It’s like an electric dab rig. That way you don’t really have to go into buying a torch, or doing anything like that, once you kind of get the hang of how to actually use the concentrates properly.” Approved Ohio vaporization devices can be found here.
Waste Minimized with Coco Growing Method
When it comes to managing waste, choosing coco coir has proven to be a benefit for Ancient Roots. According to Ohio’s mandates for cultivators, plant material that isn’t sold to dispensaries has to be mixed with 51 percent non plant matter. Ancient Roots’ cultivation team leans on their growing method to help control waste. Cultivation team member, Eric Schaffer said, “We just use root balls for that. And we use coco so it’s all biodegradable. That’s the downfall of rock wool is that it isn’t biodegradable. So it’s almost like throwing styrofoam in the landfill.”
Like all other cultivators in Ohio, Ancient Roots’ flower is tested and carefully measured for pesticides and chemicals that could potentially show up in the product. Because of their choice to use coco coir, cultivators at Ancient Roots feel confident that the medicine that gets to the patients from the plant is as clean as it can be.
“We have to keep everything really clean,” said Zach Sauder, Head of Cultivation. “That’s why we use risers to keep everything off the table so we don’t get a little buildup of anything between the pot and the table. We flush our lines every time before we go to run nutrients. You know we don’t cut corners because we can’t, and neither do we want to. We want to have the cleanest possible product. That way we’re not spraying oils or anything on the plant. I don’t want to inhale that and I don’t really want to have anybody else inhale that either.”
Ancient Roots flower and concentrate products are available in medical marijuana dispensaries across Ohio. To learn more about Ancient Roots products, visit their website, Facebook, or Instagram pages.
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