Story & photos by Greg James
Article reference: Marijuana Venture March 2018
Photo credit: Marijuana Venture Magazine
"I didn't move across the country to live and work in a community that wasn't cannabis-friendly," Couhig says. "Arlington has been very accommodating, and I can't imagine living in a town that isn't this progressive ever again." The company he started, Pioneer Nuggets, is a fully operational indoor cultivation facility with 20 employees. It currently occupies 12,500 square feet of warehouse, with roughly 6,000 square feet dedicated to the actual growing. After studying many different indoor grow techniques, Couhig went with a facility design that utilizes a series of indoor hoop houses inflated with air pressure. Each separate structure is opaque and contains plants in various stages of their growth cycle. Another early decision was to focus on flower production. "I love flower," he says. "I saw a lot of growers chasing the next big thing - oil, rosin, hash, shatter, etc. - and I felt it was a mistake. Get good at one thing and stick with it was my philosophy, and so I went with my gut and we drilled down on flower production. Producing the absolute best flower is my mission."
Mary Mart has developed into one of Tacoma’s premiere Recreational and Medical Cannabis shops. They aim to cover all your bases with a huge selection of premium cannabis from around the state. They pride themselves on being well informed of the products they carry. Damien believes providing a high level of information is critical to the flood of folks that are new to cannabis not to mention the overwhelming span of options. Mary Mart’s distinguishing factors are a comfortable environment and stellar staff that upholds the highest standard of customer service. They are also medically endorsed and keep a staff of five full-time certified consultants. Daily Deals are featured all week beginning with Monday Madness where select top shelf flower is heavily discounted, 2 Jay Tuesday offers joints for a steal, Ladies Wednesday offers 10% off for the ladies, Valued Citizens Thursdays gives all patrons 55+ 10% off, T.G.I.Friday where all half and full ounces are 10% off, Shatterdays where all concentrate is 10% off and finally Low Cannabinoid Blowout Sundays where 18% or lower THC products are 10% off. All deals are good for their respective day all day. Mary Mart also provides online ordering for those who know what they’d like and appreciate avoiding lines. All online orders will be 10% off for the month of December.
More than marijuana
Aerated compost teas may be used as a foliar for cannabis pathogen management. Foliar sprays are a means to supply beneficial microbes that occupy the plant surface and protect it from bad microbes. Bad microbes are the little nasties that promote disease and bacteria. A compost tea is exactly what it sounds like, a brew of compost that extracts the biology of the soil into a liquid form which can then be sprayed directly onto plants. The aerated bit is important to encourage the growth of aerobic microbes which are distinguished as good biology. These beneficial microorganisms immediately establish themselves on the surface of the plant and compete with the bad microbes for the good of the plant planet. The beneficial microbes sustain by feeding on the sugars, gas and carbohydrates that the plant excretes and processes that food | gas into micronutrients that the plant can use in a micro symbiotic relationship. This is a naturally occurring relationship in healthy plant habitats. The use of an aerated compost tea is a way to replicate these ideal habitats for happy plants.
According to Couhig, Pioneer Nuggets is a one-batch-at-a-time producer of hand-crafted, all-natural flower. "We are dedicated to artisan cannabis and do everything by hand," he says. "The plants are pruned by hand, watered by hand and fed the highest quality all-natural nutrients. When we harvest the buds, we also trim by hand with precision scissors." Some might think his attention to detail is fanatical, but to Couhig, it's all about reputation and creating the very best. "Ferrari doesn't make an entry-level family car, and we don't produce budget cannabis," he explains.
As an example of the company's attention to detail, the Pioneer team affixes each branch of every mature, flowering plant to a specially selected all-natural bamboo stake. It takes time and money to do this by hand, but according to Couhig, the additional support serves a purpose: When the plant is free from wasting energy on the creation of strong branches, it's able to devote that energy to producing larger, stickier buds. The path to connoisseur cannabis has not been without bumps in the road. Early forays into packaging presented challenges, and it took time for Pioneer Nuggets to get it's branding down. Another problem was anticipating rules and regulations that often seemed like a moving target. "We'd think we had something figured out and then the goal line would be moved," Couhig says. Finally assembling a well-oiled workforce was difficult in a small community that lacked a history of commercial agricultural production. "It took me a while," Couhig says, "but we now have a first-class team that works well together, produces superior product and sees the goal line. I have no doubt about our abilities, and I'm really proud of where we are." For 2018, Couhig is planning to expand Pioneer Nuggets' line of hand-trimmed, hand-selected connoisseur flower lines. "The legal cannabis business has not been a cake walk," Couhig says. "However, I'm really excited about the progress we've made, the great customers we've cultivated and our overall direction
There’s always time for tea
The use of compost tea is a great way to maintain plant health while providing a safe and natural way to suppress disease.
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Close to the Cascade Mountains and roughly 40 miles north of Seattle, Arlington is typical of many small timber towns in the Northwest. It depended heavily on plentiful giant Douglas fir trees in the nearby mountains, but eventually the stands of old growth dwindled and timber money was replaced by concerns about erosion and the negative effects of logging on the streams and rivers in which wild salmon spawned. Over the last few decades, a predictable pattern emerged in rural towns along the West Coast: small logging communities in Northern California, Oregon and Washington experienced shuttered mills, lost jobs and greatly reduced timber harvests. Many proud, blue-collar towns spiraled downward, and Arlington was one of the casualties. Most of its timber jobs have gone the way of the typewriter, coal mining and the steam train. But while some might view communities like Arlington as broken backwaters, others see opportunity. Fitz Couhig sits squarely in the latter camp. Originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Couhig first came to Washington decades earlier and fell in love with what he affectionately calls "the epic scenery." On return trips he often worked as a tour guide and knew that if he ever had the opportunity, he'd relocate to the state and start his own business. He got that opportunity when the Evergreen State legalized recreational, adult-use marijuana in 2012. Couhig moved to Washington, established residency and applied for a Tier 2 grow license. While scouting locations, he learned that Arlington was looking to pass an ordinance to allow cannabis production. He visited the town and quickly decided it was a great place to start his business.
Quality compost rich in biology and diversity, vermicompost (compost processed by worms) and a fungal compost make for an ideal base to which food is added for good microbes to multiply. Molasses, fish remains, kelp and alfalfa meal are among major ingredients that feed the microbiology.
Nature by design is inherently sustainable and replicating stable plant habitat is one step closer to growing cannabis responsibly.
A balanced and diverse soil microbiology makes for an effective and versatile tea. The more diversity the greater the ability to respond to plant need and concurrently improves resistance to pathogens. Compost tea improves water and nutrient absorption, is safe, natural, promotes health and aids in the breakdown of toxins.
Mary Mart started as a family owned business rooted in their community. That foundation drives their values and translates to how they serve their town with strong character. The Mart has been in business successfully for the last three years. It is quickly evolving into a Cinderella story. From its humble beginnings, Damian McDivitt Owner, built the shop from refinancing a car loan and taking out a small loan from his wife’s retirement. The efforts of his immediate family realized the shop into fruition. Damien has been a part of the Tacoma community for a comfortable duration prior to acquiring his i502 license and is proud to represent cannabis in a place he happily calls home. He’s determined to be a responsible and conscious anchor for the community. He’s gotten a step closer with commissioning a large mural beautifying the exterior and warming up the stark wall of his new shop for neighbors. The expansion is a marked contrast from his original store’s location and space being tucked in a strip mall. The move has quadrupled his sales space and garnered high visibility in a central part of the neighborhood’s retail strip. His vision involves the shop maturing into a high-end marketplace likening to an upscale-grocers.
The Mart is a champion for being more than marijuana. It supports local entertainment and strives for a cannabis culture that breaks down the stigma of old. They’re proud sponsors of Brew Five Three, a local Beer and Blues Festival, along with Jazzbones a local live music venue. What better than the gift of laughter to pair with your favorite bud- The Dope Show, Java Jive (Tacoma Landmark Building in the shape of a coffee pot Circa 1927) and the Tacoma Comedy Club are comedy venues about Tacoma that Mary Mart supports. To top the entertainment list Mary Mart also sponsors the Gritty City Sirens, a burlesque show. The depth and diversity of culture finds solace in what is growing into a pot mecca and true cannabis marketplace for Tacoma’s residents. If you’re looking for more than marijuana, you’ll most certainly find it here.