Arett Outlook: How Did Coast of Maine Get Into The Garden Soil Business?
Coast of Maine: Carlos Quijano founded Coast of Maine Organic Products, Inc in 1996 when doing business consulting work with Great Eastern Mussel Farms. As they struggled to compost their mussel shells Carlos thought, “If we can get the compost process working this would be a terrific garden soil to sell to independent garden centers.”
He reached out to the Maine Compost School and The Maine Organic Farmer’s Association for guidance, as he began the laborious and meticulous process of making sure that every detail was in place to produce the world’s finest quality, organically approved compost blends.
Using the composted mussel shells as the base, the first product Carlos developed was our Penobscot Blend Complete Planting Mix.
That first year Carlos sold 50 pallets of Penobscot Blend to a few specialty, coastal garden centers throughout New England. As organic soil knowledge has evolved and grown with consumers and garden center employees over the last 20 years, Coast of Maine has been able to use an education based process to develop sales to over 2000 retailers from Maine to Florida and as far west as Chicago.
At the same time we were developing deep relationships with our garden center dealers, Coast of Maine has continued to improve our composting processes and create new, unique, organically approved, ocean based products.
Arett Outlook: What products does Coast of Maine offer today?
Coast of Maine: Our product offering now includes 10 soil and compost blends, 5 granular and 4 liquid fertilizer products, 2 enriching mulches as well as a line of traditional mulches.
Arett Outlook: How Has Coast Of Maine Approached The Issue of Growing Medical Cannabis?
Coast of Maine: We began to see West Coast soil companies coming east with a specific focus on growing cannabis. We had a decision to make. Although we were already receiving contact and feedback from medicinal marijuana growers that were using Coast of Maine products to grow cannabis with great success, we weren’t sure how our traditional garden centers would react to us expanding our market share in that way.
The first thing we did was to research cannabis production and states with legal medicinal and recreational laws. The Coast of Maine home state of Maine has a medicinal marijuana program with over 3,000 licensed marijuana caregivers throughout the state.
We hired, Felicia Newman, an organic farmer, with a chemical engineering degree who also has a prescription to grow cannabis.
Felicia studied our current products, the best cannabis soils and read numerous articles and books that focused on organic cannabis production.
With her experience and knowledge, Coast of Maine went about the process of developing and testing a soil blend that would have the ability to take a cannabis plant from seedling to harvest using 15 gallons of soil and no additional fertilizers.
Using the input from over 100 licensed caregivers, Felicia developed our Stonington Blend Platinum Grower’s Mix. (Stonington is a fishing village along the Coast of Maine, and yes, we were very aware of the play on words that usually elicits a hardy chuckle.)
After a few refinements and with the confidence that we have the developed the world’s finest, organically approved cannabis growing compost blend, Coast of Maine began reaching out to our traditional garden center retailers.
We developed a Power Point presentation titled “Capitalize on Cannabis” designed to help garden center owners and employees understand the basic process in growing a cannabis plant, as well as, highlighting what products they might want to sell.
Every garden center should also be asking themselves how this impacts their personal beliefs, how their employees feel about cannabis production, and in what way do they think their customers will react. They should also understand the structure of their state and local municipality laws.
Once the decision is made there is a wealth of information and support within the legal cannabis production community.
Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Arett Sales. We certainly do not endorse the use of or growing of cannabis anywhere it is strictly prohibited by law. In addition to understanding and complying with state law, retailers interested in pursing this line of business should also be aware of current developments in federal law regarding medical marijuana and how the enforcement by the Department of Justice of any changes in those laws could potentially impact their business.
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