Sat, Jun 6, 2020
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Expands Into Oregon, Aims For Global Change

Consumer confidence

These two magic words carry significant weight in the fledgling Cannabis industry, where each legal state has its own testing requirements, but so little is known about the products and the farming practices that produce them.

That’s where groups like Sun + Earth Certified come in.

One of a broadening field of watchdog certification programs, the California-based Sun + Earth aims to analyze the employment practices and production methodologies of its members in order to enforce a strict set of standards.

Like Certified Kind, Clean Green and other certification organizations, Sun + Earth analyzes the growing practices of cultivators and producers to ensure clean practices. But there are a few significant details that set it apart, and those aspects captured the interest of Sally Alworth and Devan Anthony of Luminous Botanicals, who recently spearheaded an effort to bring the Sun + Earth Certification to Oregon.

“We were thrilled to see Sun + Earth roll out,” Alworth said. “It finally felt like there was a certification that fit us and our business.”

Unlike other similar organizations, Sun + Earth only certifies sungrown farms employing organic, regenerative farming practices. It also analyzes its members’ employment practices, ensuring that employees receive benefits and fair wages.

Sun + Earth as a nonprofit and new standard

“When we were putting together the Sun + Earth certified standard, the nonprofit structure allowed everyone to freely contribute their ideas, without any one person taking ownership,” said Andrew Black, founder of Certified Kind and Sun + Earth founding board member. “It helped us create a stronger, more creative standard.”

More than that, the nonprofit status helps ensure an added level of consumer confidence that the certification can be trusted.

“If you’re looking to maximize your income as a for-profit company, I think outsiders would question the integrity of the standard,” said board member Les Szabo, Director of Constructive Capital at Dr. Bronner’s, the progressive company which owns California Cannabis brand Brother David’s.

“Your interest [would be] in certifying as many entities as possible, in the interest of gaining a profit. Just the optics of being for-profit may call your integrity into question.”

Sun + Earth contracts out the inspection to Oregon-based Certified Kind, so the group already had strong ties to Oregon. When approached by Luminous Botanicals, Sun + Earth saw an obvious alignment of core values. Luminous uses only sungrown, organic material cultivated using regenerative practices, and the company offers benefits and living wages to all of its employees. Alworth says they even recently moved to a four-day workweek for all production staff. But even with those boxes checked, they had to go a step beyond.

“The first place we had to start, in order for us to be Sun + Earth certified as a manufacturer, is we had to have Sun + Earth certified farms, and there weren’t any (in Oregon),” Alworth said. “So we started reaching out to our farm partners at East Fork and Green Source.”

Both farms saw the vision, and agreed to pursue Sun + Earth certification. By winter 2019, all three companies were certified.

“Our personal take on certification is that it’s a filter for consumers that helps consumers make choices when they shop,” said Nick Mahmood,
who owns Green Source Gardens with his partner, Elizabeth Luca-Mahmood.

“Especially consumers who care enough to be looking for a stamp that identifies a product as something more environmentally friendly.”

Now that it has a foothold in Oregon, Sun + Earth hopes to continue to spread its message and expand its vision to the rest of the Cannabis industry.

Eventually, the organization hopes its logo becomes a global signifier of ethical and ecologically friendly practices.

For Devan Anthony at Luminous, it’s all about raising consumer awareness of current practices and setting a standard for where the Cannabis community needs to be. “You can’t produce a $6, 50mg edible, unless you’re incredibly large and have economies of scale, or you’re not paying a living wage, or you’re not paying for the highest quality material,” he said.

“We’d really like consumers to start being aware that if they go into a dispensary and they’re buying something that’s incredibly cheap, they may not be paying the price, but somebody is.”

Learn about Sun + Earth certified farms and product lines at SunandEarth.org

story by Tom Bowers @propagateconsultants | supporting photos by daniel berman @bermanphotos

Sun + Earth Certified East Fork Cultivars in Takilma, OR

Sun + Earth hopes to continue to spread its message and expand its vision to the rest of the industry.

Eventually, the organization hopes its logo becomes a global signifier of ethical & ecologically friendly practices.

Luminous Botanicals’ Devan Anthony

Green Source Gardens Owners Nick Mahmood & Elizabeth Luca-Mahmood