By Sue Vorenberg
Cannabis Daily Record
For Crystal Bohannon, going to work at her family’s Tier 3 indoor farm in Longview is a bit like going home.
Walking into Honu’s main processing area, she waved at her mother- and father-in-law, Debbie and Gary Bohannon, who were busy sorting through product bags. Soon after, her brother-in-law, John Bohannon, sauntered up cheerfully.
“We’re so excited – our edibles are really starting to take off,” he said with a grin. “We have flower, extracts and now we’re getting our commercial kitchens going.”
All told, there are 11 family members working at the 23,000 square-foot facility, rounded out by another 13 employees mostly recruited from amongst their friends.
Each employee’s background spans pretty far from what you might expect at a typical marijuana grow.
Crystal was a teacher before joining the business, John was a carpenter and electrical engineer, Crystal’s sister-in-law was a nurse, another brother-in-law was the head of a major national company, Crystal’s husband Jay was a corporate IT director, and her father-in-law is retired Air Force. And that’s just for starters, she said.
“We did all this ourselves,” Crystal said proudly. “Our family, we all had professional jobs before this, but we wanted to learn. So we went to conferences, conventions and a lot of people helped us.”
On the marijuana growing side, Debbie has a degree in forestry and horticulture, and two of her children (Crystal’s brother- and sister-in-law) got their master gardening certificates to prepare for the family business, which launched in early 2015.
“Working with family is really the best part of all of this,” Debbie said, as she continued her work sorting product bags.
The company owns 75 strains of cannabis, with about 30 grown out as mother plants. Top sellers include Strawberry Cough, Blackberry Kush and OG Kush, but the family also rotates through several others over the seasons.
“We want to have a lot of variety so we can bring in quarterly or seasonal specials,” Crystal said.
The farm uses full spectrum lighting and has four climate-controlled grow rooms so far, with more planned as the company expands to its full 30,000 square-foot canopy.
“We want to make sure our rooms are really clean, our plants are really clean,” John said.
Honu also recycles leaf material into compost for new plants, and uses about 200 gallons of recycled water a day.
“We’re also putting in solar on our roof,” Crystal said. “We’re all into sustainability in this family.”
The farm uses a minimal amount of state-approved pesticides, such as a 3-in-1 organic-based sesame oil product. And nothing is sprayed on the plants after week four of flower.
Plants are flushed for 7-14 days and cured for 7 days to a month, John said.
“We have some plants that the chlorophyll doesn’t break down quickly, and they cure for a whole month,” John said. “You know when it’s ready. We won’t release it before it is.”
Beyond that, the commercial kitchen and BHO extraction rooms are treated like industrial clean rooms, cutting down on particulate matter in the air.
And to keep up with all the improvements, employees get weekly training sessions, Crystal said.
“It’s really nice, and our employees really like it,” Crystal said. “We want everybody to be safe and we also found it really cuts down on the errors.”
The company’s name, Honu, also has its origins in a family event.
Before opening their business, the Bohannons traveled to Hawaii when a family member was very ill with cancer (and undergoing treatment with medical marijuana, which helped her go into remission, Crystal said) – and the family all wanted to spend some time together.
While they were hanging out on the beach, a sea turtle swam to the shore – and with it swam what they thought was the perfect name for their company: Honu, the name for a Hawaiian sea turtle, John said.
“We just loved the idea of a turtle and we decided to make it purple because we all love that color,” John said. “I also like that it seems to appeal to women. We really wanted to get away from the images of women in bikinis that you sometimes see in this industry. We thought the purple turtle was far more classy.”
With the cancer experience, the family also wants to make products for the medical marijuana market in Washington, which shifts into the state’s recreational system, partially, in July 2016.
“We’ve always wanted to do that, so when we set up our extraction room we built it to the new codes – so when everything shifts over, we’re already there,” Crystal said. “We just love the idea that our family will be able to help people who are seriously ill.”
For more, check out Honu’s website at: http://honu-inc.com/