Thursday, February 25, 2016

Rootworx in Shelton, WA

Producer/Processor: Rootworx
Location: Shelton, WA

Visited: 02/19/2016

Overall: Efficient Operation. Caring. Premium. Intense.

Rootworx is a long blue building - it looks like it might have been a hanger or some other type of storage. It's barely marked and without so much of what you'd call a parking lot, just several cars pulled up near one another in the gravel and front grass area. There was an awesome all black Jeep parked like a centerpiece on a small rise in the grass right out the front door.

I was invited up to Shelton by Rootworx COO and my new friend Ryan Galford. He was my guest on the Marijuana Encyclopedia Episode 7 (he even stuck around for an Aftershow recording) just last month, and I'm glad to come up and see what Rootworx is like. We spoke in depth in those shows and I highly recommend you go listen.

Anna Kantzer, plant manager, came out to greet me. She's got a welcoming smile and a firm handshake - both of which I accepted gladly. She lead me into the front door. Anna's background is in municipal works, and she's an IT, operations, and deployment specialist. I should say she was those things, because now she's in charge of everything here at Rootworx. I'm told nothing happens that Anna does not know about or authorize, which is an exceptional way to run a facility.

I walked in and got a view down this long building, with a huge facing wall of pristine, bright white. There are technically proficient and professionally installed conduits and fixtures along the steel wall. Everything appears deliberate.

This is a place where work gets done. This view is from the opposite end of the building. I spent almost 40 minutes searching for a picture I remember taking from right inside the door, but never found it.

I was briefly introduced to everyone, then Anna went on to continue managing the crew - with a team this small efficiency is everything. Ryan took over the tour.  He had much less facial hair than he had last time I saw him. Before we headed into the Flower Rooms, we passed a nutrients station. This is just a spot to mix the various nutrients that are used in watering the plants. Really it's just a nutes table.

Many companies use a proprietary blend of commercially available, approved nutrients. Rootworx is really taking it to the next level. They had consultation with agricultural chemists and others to create their own truly proprietary nutrient blend that is helping them deliver on their promise of top shelf product at a fair price.

Right across from this nutrients area is a drying and curing room. They dry hang and basket dry. Right now there's not much here.
Rootworx 1

All along the pure white steel wall are separate doors, each one with external control indicators. There are environmental controls, monitors and a hand sanitization station outside each room, all of which are constantly in growth based on a 2-week clone transplant cycle. Ryan talks more in depth about his growing philosophies and methods in the Marijuana Encyclopedia. You'll see these further along.

We started at Flower 1, where all the plants were early in the flowering stage, but still delivering incredible results for the short growing time.

Part of the intentional efficiency of Rootworx is their focus on consistency. Their lighting scheme includes Rocket Plasma lights as primary source, and some pretty standard HPS augmentation. Another critical part is the 40 tons of air conditioning sitting on top of the building.

This is how growable, deployable flower rooms look. 

These young flowers in this room were just starting to develop pistils and bud out.

Flower 1 Babies

We moved on to Flower Room 2 - where Ryan was super excited to show me in. Or maybe this is hangry? I'm not sure what emotion he's conveying here, but I'm glad I captured it.

I'll be kind and let you see what Ryan's really like. Smiley and happy. The lights were just coming on seconds after this door opened up.

Flower 2 is a wonderful place - in here the plants are in a critical stage: pushing flower, growing stalk, leafing and budding hard in every nodule. They look so still, but the life that's happening here is majestic. At this stage, phenotype really comes through.

At this point, the sativas get more lanky and indicas bush out more thoroughly. Coloration intensifies. Terpenes really start developing in the middle life of these plants. It smelled amazing in here. Vegetative, pungent, citrusy, all mixing with the headiness of growing flowers.

This is some stinky stanky Bubba Erkel. 

And here is an upcoming strain - Blue Bullet. Look how rangey it is already!

Rootworx Flower 2
We took a bit of a break from the plants themselves and stopped off to see the concentrates station. Rootworx does not process any solvent-based concentrates themselves. They partner with other i502 processors for this. They expect to have every strain they produce available as CO2 extract, butane extract, kief, and rosin. It's amazing and coming soon.

To produce CO2 extract, they work with Circanna - the folks behind Nectar Craft. They then mix it with fractionated coconut oil. It's warmed to a liquid form and mixed more thoroughly until it's consistently homogenized. Then, a syringe is used to fill small ampules, designed as refills for vape cartridges. A food grade hot glue is used to seal each ampule.

You can see how clean this product is when it's underlit.

On this visit, they had some amazing Harlequin CO2 that was a huge amount in a massive syringe! After he got it going, I stared Ryan in the eyes and encouraged him to finish the job. At the end his forearms were a little shakey but he got it all. There was some serious pressure, and quite a bit of work. Well done. This high-CBD oil is purpose built - and Rootworx is maintaining the tradition on that.

Previously, some Rootworx butane concentrates were a bit, shall we say ... rough. The team even made the brand decision to purchase some quantity of their Gala back off the shelves of retailers and destroy it. Now, Rootworx gets this produced in a closed loop system that is being delivered to them in some familiar cardboard pizza boxes -#PurpleTurtle.

If you follow me on Twitter Facebook or Instagram, you can see all the Honu branded concentrates I've shared, so we know they're delivering quality processing - and with Rootworx premium flower going into it, I expect it to be an amazing product.

Let's be clear here - this Blackberry wax was from their previous method. It's just going to get better now that Honu is processing.

The hottest newest thing in concentrates is rosin - made with just heat and pressure, absolutely no solvents. You can make small amounts at home or even buy a small rosin press for a few hundred bucks.  Or you can let the professionals who have spent hours and ounces testing the results handle it and buy it in your local i502 licensed marijuana retailer.

At Rootworx, they have an official RosinTech press, but they essentially only kept the heating plates and mounted it into a 12 ton press.  It's intense.

Really soon, there will be some amazing P-51 Rosin and other strains hitting the shelves of some of the exclusive stores that carry Rootworx marijuana - including the Freedom Market in Longview, WA.

I cannot wait to get my hands on this, that P-51 is an amazing custom strain with sweet grapefruit notes among others. We smoked and reviewed the strain on the Marijuana Encyclopedia and honestly, I really just want this rosin to be sitting on my desk, right now.

Last but definitely not least - kief. This is an often overlooked concentrate, but is usually the first most people encounter. It's not a truly processed concentrate, but it's great uses in cooking, smoking, and pressing. 

This device is essentially made and sold over the internet - they bought from an artisan, not a supply house. This handles quite a bit of product at once, with a stainless steel filter to allow them to put whole buds in, and stems. The marijuana is then used for processing into pre-roll or concentrates. 

Under this kief collector were some pre-rolled supplies. The quality of pre-roll fill is outstanding. This is some Blue Dream that is insanely crystally. This is how they wrap the joints.

Right next to the concentrates area is the cold curing area. I was surprised to see such a quantity. These are opened, burped and rotated constantly, as they are cold curing.

After the marijuana grows and cures and is stored, it's got to be packaged! Rootworx packages everything to demand. The team is small, so everyone does everything (mostly). Packaging is a big deal.

First, it has to be trimmed to weight. They produce consistent marijuana and prepare it immaculately during their cool dry then cold cure. This stage of the trimming is for cosmetic and weight purposes.

It's packaged up to size - some products are still coming in plastic.

 There are no offices in this building - everyone works in the same workspace. In this picture, there are 5 people working at no less than 11 separate but simultaneous tasks, as part of the overall operation of this incredible small company.

Recently, Rootworx stepped up their packaging game by going to glass for all size flower - from a gram to an ounce. This is the first actual order of glass packaging, and it's awesome. This shipment included several strains. (As above, some few products still come packaged in plastic).

I love the new art - here's a great strain.

The whole team came together to celebrate, proud of their first case of glass packaged product. From the left: Ryan, Anna, Jesse, Mariaa, Rachel, Reece, Tina, and Brandon. Way to grow Rootworx team!

Not pictured is CEO Paul, who I met first on walking in, but he was heading out. He had happy smiling eyes behind glasses and immediately identified himself as a numbers nerd. I respect numbers nerds massively - especially those in marijuana!

After the packaging excitement and a round of huzzahs for the team for completing this big task, Ryan and I moved on to the best part of the tour, I was told, the real deal, Flower 3 - everything is just a short time away from harvest here. On the way there, we passed the cloning station.

These clones have 2 weeks to grow then they're transplanted into first a 3 inch pot, then 2 more weeks they're moved into the Vegetation room to grow. Every 2 weeks from there, they'll grow into a larger pot until they move into their final pot, where they'll stay in a Flower room until they're ready to harvest.

The entrance to this next room was magical and the glow drew me in.

When I entered, the smells were incredible. I was smitten by a vast array of pungent, vegetable smells. The aroma of flowering plants advertising their extreme sexual nature. These flowers are near harvest.

We walked around and inspected these plants, so near to harvest.

Here's the delicious Blackberry, which is such a phenomenal, blunt-headed type of bud. They're so dense it's unbelievable.

This is the full flower version of the pale Bubba Erkel with it's almost rotten pungency. Close up this flower has a nearly putrid smell. Look how widely it fans.

This is the amazing sativa Hillbilly.

And P-51. Oh damn.

From here, the only last room we visited was a currently dark vegetation room lined with young clones and vegging plants, each in a 2-week cyclical rotation in gradually larger pots until flower time. This is where those clones from earlier will be after they've been alive just a handful of weeks.

I was left for a while to wander around and I came across the back corner. After seeing so much marijuana, which I absolutely adore, and being bombarded with smells, and the concentrate, and so many different strains, taking pictures, looking for ways to glamorize it and it hit home, this is at it's heart a horticultural company.

They grow plants in dirt, and their biggest part of their business is in being able to pot those plants, and meet their other needs.

They use CO2 to improve the respiration of the plants.

Plants also need lots of water, and that's delivered at Rootworx by one of the key employees with the title of Gardener: Reece.

This guy works to water every single one of these beautiful plants. As he was reaching into the tall, lankey sativas in front he pointed out that he knows exactly which plants prefer to have almost a third less watering - and that's why he's the Gardener, said Ryan from over my shoulder. That alone seems a monumental task but he also is the first one to offer to help any other project.

I got a chance to catch up with Anna after the staff went to lunch. She says every single member of the team is constantly stepping up to do more things. It sounds like this team is tightly knit, full of family, close friends, and beloved professionals working their dream jobs. Right on!

Rootworx has more growing to do, with plans of expanding space as the WSLCB opens up further producer/processor licensing and expansion tiers. They're producing and processing other product, under the label Simply Stoned. Look for their coming value-driven strains. Here's a mock-up of the label.

Overall, everyone seemed to be professional and efficient. I'm surprised this company is being operated by so few people. They're producing a large amount of product in an expandable, nearly modular, growing system. I'm impressed.

Everything about Rootworx is fantastic and I couldn't be more proud to have been given the opportunity to share this look at their facility with you.


  1. Thanks for coming Michael! Come back anytime!

  2. We love you guys at Rootworx, Keep on Rocking the FREE World and keep growing such amazing buds. To the end of Prohibition! Your friends in the business and beyond! Honu Enterprises. ... John Bohannon

  3. As always, Aging Ent's writeup and review is so descriptive and detailed. You are one of the most passionate Cannabis Writers I have ever met. Thank you for your dedication and sincere desire to bring an amazing light on the work we do day in and day out. Much appreciated on my behalf! Thank you! John

    1. You are incredibly kind! Thank you so much. I just get so much joy from seeing what you heroes in #LegalMarijuana are all doing. I treasure the opportunity to share it here!

  4. Fabulous behind the scenes tour - loved the photos of the flowers close to harvest! What a beautiful array of colors on those plants. I have always been curious about horticulture processes on a large scale. How challenging it must be to try and give every individual plant attention. Very impressed.

    1. Thanks so much! It's totally impressive how much work this small team is doing. Can you imagine the trim work involved? And every single plant was meticulous. The only sad looking plants in the bunch are a strain that just happens to look sad all the time.

      The whole place stank of professionalism and dedication.

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