Over the summer I took a job on a legal Tier 3 outdoor cannabis farm in Washington State called Sticky Mantis. My objective for taking the job was to build on my cannabis resume, experience a growing season from veg to harvest on a farm that size, and be able to share stories about what it is like working in this part of the industry.
I knew enough about cannabis from growing my own and from being on other large farms in the industry that I knew I would be in for a tedious and smelly time.
I took the position at Sticky Mantis specifically because they are family owned and have been in operation since the beginning legalization in Washington State. Unlike what I imagine my family would be like trying to manage a cannabis farm, I found out this farm’s family is not only fun to be around but they work well together and somehow managed to make the tedious parts of the work much more enjoyable.
The other reason I accepted the job was because this farm does not grow with pesticides. I was able to daily receive the benefits of working with fresh air, clean water, working with plants, and sunshine without the exposure to toxins in pesticides.
Initially, I started in the processing room one or two days a week finger trimming and as harvest came on my job was moved outside and shifts increased to 7 days a week. I have to say that trimming and packaging cannabis is not a bad gig if you can handle sitting or standing in one place for days on end and working as quickly as possible on a super tedious and repetitive tasks. As a part-time job or once a seasonal extra job it is very low stress and physically doable even if you have health limitations. The only possibly bad thing is that you will go home covered in dry weed crumbs and smelling like flowers until you change your clothes and take a shower.
Working outside with live plants is a whole other type of job from trimming dried flower. It is much more physical and much, much dirtier. I would be chopping down buds and climbing through beds of sticky, smelly plants towering over my head. While I was grateful to have a job that takes me outside where I am immersed in fresh air and directly connected to nature through this amazing plant for hours each day, at the end of the day I would be covered in sticky trichomes and I smell more like a defensive skunk everywhere that I go.
Any skin that was exposed and touching plants would get super sticky and sometimes cause irritation like itchy and burning skin. I learned not to touch my face with a sticky hand or glove. The only way to get that kind of sticky residue off is with some kind of rubbing alcohol or oil to act as a solvent before you can wash it off your skin.
As soon as they had me outside working in the plants, I created a dedicated uniform that I wouldn’t mind destroying with a scent I was told would never come out. The outfit consisted of denim overalls, hat, long johns for cold mornings, and long sleeved t-shirts to protect my skin especially when it was warm outside and the plants were extra sticky.
Now, for the romantic part of the job. During the most beautiful months of the year I was outside under sunshine and blue skies with an almost constant breeze making the entire garden dance with each gust. I was surrounded by tall, full, beautiful, healthy marijuana plants and got to witness dozens of strains I had never grown before mature and flower before my eyes.
With each different strain I was cutting for hours, I would often notice myself reacting to the cannabis that I was working with. For example, when I was cutting in the Bubba Kush I would regularly getting a case of the yawns while over on the Lost Coast I would feel extra happy and motivated. Now, I know that I am sensitive to cannabis but being able to experience that kind of feeling from just working around a plant was extra fun for me.
Overall, my experience working on a pot farm has been super positive. Although my position there was low lady on the totem pole making minimum wage, I had no stress and got to spend the season watching what it is like to operate a cannabis farm.
Harvesting cannabis is tough, tedious, intensive work and it is certainly not for everybody. If ever you thought that being a cannabis farmer would be glamorous on any level, you would be in for a rude awakening.
Now, as I address the smell of my car after harvest and consider possibly burning my clothes that may never fully be trichome free again, I imagine that if I get pulled over, the officer would be understanding of the strong smell of cannabis while I show him my 502 employment badge plants and pull out my loud weed jokes. Clearly, I am a privileged white woman if I am thinking about the jokes I would tell the cop in such a scenario while people in Texas still get 20 days in jail for possessing an eighth. Maybe that should be my lead joke.
In the end, I would definitely go back to help at Sticky Mantis. Nothing beats being surrounded by the plants I use as medicine as they are grown the way God grows, outside in the sun.
Big thanks to Sticky Mantis for sharing this part of the industry with me and being able to add this to my ever expanding cannabis resume.