FIve Questions with Cameron Bonsey

The vice president of marketing at Coast of Maine discusses the development and efficacy of the Stonington Blend Grower’s Mix for growing cannabis and vegetable gardening.

1) Why did you develop Stonington Blend Grower’s Mix?

We’re in a state that had a very progressive medicinal cannabis program that started in 1999. On forums, we started seeing cannabis growers discuss how they used our lobster compost in their base mixes and they started to build their own soils. At that time, there weren’t a lot of pre-made soils, so we thought, “Should we do a soil specifically for growing cannabis?”

So, using lobster compost as the base of what we do, we started experimenting and dropping soil off to growers mostly in Maine (and some in Massachusetts), and they gave us feedback.

We took the lobster compost and we also added coco fiber and we blended it with peat. Then we added kelp meal, fishbone meal, worm castings and mycorrhizae. And if you grow in a 15-gallon container, growers had enough biology and food in there to take that cannabis plant from a seedling or a cutting to harvest.

2) What is the efficacy of this soil mix?

The basis of what we do is all organic. We’re world-class organic composters. We’ve been composting since ’96, and we do much of our own composting, but we also have trusted composters that we’ve worked with for years.

It’s all about being organically approved and growing clean. You don’t have to flush, and it’s going to increase terpene levels — THC and CBD levels.

3) What kind of retail customers would benefit from using it?

It was developed specifically with cannabis folks in mind. The benefit of it is it’s the best container mix you could probably ever use. It is amazing for growing vegetables in containers. It’s probably more than what you need for growing vegetables, but it’s great for growing them.

4) What sets Stonington apart from other growing mixes?

A lot of places don’t allow the compost to simply cure properly. It takes 10 months to make a bag of Stonington. You’ve got to let the compost cure, break down and be settled, and it takes a while for things like lobster shells to break down in the composting process. So then we blend in the kelp meal, the fishbone meal, the alfalfa meal, the worm castings and the dehydrated hen manure. And what happens there is, you have to wait, because the alfalfa meal likes to feed and create new energy in the soil. It feeds the soil itself and is great for root development, too.

I always say it’s like the guy that always shows up late to the party — he’s ready to go when everybody else wants to go home. He’s still out partying! That’s what alfalfa does. It reignites the soil again; it makes the party last longer and it takes a little time for it to settle back in so that it’s cured, and we can send it out to all the stores. And I think that’s the mistake that a lot of companies make. All of our soils are craft soils. The key to what we do is we make sure everything’s correct before it goes out the door.

All our soils are craft soils. And the key to what we do is make sure everything’s correct before it goes out the door.

5) What other benefits can IGCs gain by stocking it?

We, as a company, support the “buy local” mantra. We don’t sell to big-box stores. We do a lot of social media to drive traffic directly back to a retailer and we’re constantly doing that. They’re not going to be in competition with the big-box stores to sell our products.

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March 2022
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