Grower Stories #15: Fiddler’s Greens Team

Tia Moskalenko
Tia Moskalenko

Tia Moskalenko, author of the AskGrowers blog, brings a unique blend of content to her readers. She is known for conducting insightful interviews with key figures in the cannabis industry, including brand representatives, manufacturers, and experts. In addition to her interview skills, Tia has a keen focus on CBD. She expertly curates product selections and reviews, offering her readers detailed insights into the various effects and benefits of CBD. Tia's ability to combine in-depth interviews with comprehensive CBD analysis makes her a valuable asset to the cannabis community, offering a well-rounded perspective on the industry.



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Grower Stories #15: Fiddler’s Greens Team

Fiddler’s Greens, From Military Times to Owners of the Cannabis Business

Here you’ll experience the great story of building the cannabis brand.

Overpassing COVID-19 and challenges Fiddler’s Greens had to cope with. Check out how different the path to success may be!

Tia (AskGrowers) : What drove you to start Fiddler’s Greens? How long had you been thinking about diving into cannabis?

Fiddler’s Greens Team : I tried cannabis for the first time the day I got out of the Marine Corps in the mid-90s. I grew up in a very conservative family and community. "Just say no" and the drug war were in full effect. Once I finally got to try cannabis I couldn't believe how badly we had all been lied to about what this plant was.

It completely changed my perspective and my career goals. I dropped out of college where I was studying criminal justice. I sold everything I owned but a bag of clothes and a guitar, picked an island out of a book, and spent the next ten years in the Caribbean. Soon after arriving on island I found a bale of brick weed washed up on the beach. It had been broken open and saturated with salt water so I couldn't smoke it or sell it. This was back before we had access to the internet so researching what to do with it was a challenge. I found an old hippy cookbook that had lots of cannabis recipes and various ways of using it in food and drink. So we started making infused ice cream brownie sandwiches and sharing them with friends and tourists. I really started getting deep into learning everything I could about cannabis, reading everything available at the time. This led me to travel to Amsterdam where I started attending High Times Cannabis Cups as a judge. It was an amazing experience where I was able to meet many of the people who were blazing trails in what was still an underground industry at the time. Many years later while working in California my wife and I ran into friends from the islands who used to indulge in our treats. They were all cultivators and invited me to come and work with and learn from them.

We took this knowledge and began growing organic flowers within the 215 medical marketplace in the bay area. We worked with a handful of wonderful shops that really cared about the community, the medicine and the compassion.

Still passionate about learning everything we could we attended seminars, lectures and classes at every chance we got. We started to hear about something new, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid called CBD. After more research we were able to meet several people that were breeding these CBD rich cultivars as well as researchers and educators. The first strain we worked with was Sour Tsunami with seeds that we got from Lawrence Ringo, one of the first breeders of CBD dominant cultivars.

Trying to sell CBD ten years ago was extremely difficult. Lab testing was still fairly new and trying to explain a plant that didn't get you high was an uphill battle. In order to explain it better we continued to educate ourselves by attending lectures and continuing education courses put on by the doctors, clinicians and researchers doing the actual studies on the plants. We then took this information and started sharing it with everyone who would listen offering free budtender and community education.

During this research we learned of the "entourage effect" and the benefits of whole plant medicine over using extracts or isolates as well as the healing properties of the raw cannabinoids like CBDA and THCA. This is when we started infusing whole, organically grown flowers into organic first press olive oil both in its raw form as well as decarboxylated into its neutral form of CBD and THC.

Tia : How big is your team currently? Are there any plans to expand?

Fiddler’s Greens: We are a very small team of passionate cannabis activists who are trying to emphasize the community of legacy heritage and equity farms and brands.  We are self-funded to date, and have built a small but mighty team of cannabis warriors.

Tia : What is your current production volume?

Fiddler’s Greens: We have been doing our best to match our growth with the growth of available retail outlets.  Due to Prop 64 giving so much power to local government, we knew early on that the availability of licensed retail shops was going to be the biggest bottleneck in the supply chain.

Tia : You guys have an inspired package design. Who leads the graphic design for Fiddler’s Greens? What’s the idea behind it?

Fiddler’s Greens: Shannon, our CEO and I are both sailors and love the sea and it's traditions.  Fiddler's Greens is a mythological afterlife where sailors go where the music never stops, the dancers never tire and the cups are always full.  It is a place of rest and perpetual mirth.  This along with the imagery of the traditional sailors tattoos of swallows signifying safe voyage out to sea and safe passage home  embody our love of adventure and our passion for the plant.

Tia : Who calls the shots when it comes to creating and producing new tinctures?

Fiddler’s Greens: We have followed the research when it comes to creating our tinctures. The cultivars we have chosen to use as well as the organic olive oil that we infuse the flowers into have all come from what has been shown to be the most beneficial for medical cannabis patients.  We want to create a safe simple clean medicine that people can mix and match to find the right personal combination of cannabinoids for themselves.  Cannabis is a very individual, personal type of medicine that takes trial and error to find the correct minimum effective dose.  We want to give everyone the tools and knowledge to find this for themselves.

Tia : What’s your attitude towards THC and THC products?

Fiddler’s Greens: THC is a very important part of the cannabis plant but it is by no means the only or most important part.  Research shows that keeping that plant whole and intact as a treatment has a much broader therapeutic window at lower doses than using extracts or isolates.

fidlers green comment

Tia : Are there any plans to expand your product list? Are there any specifics you plan to roll out in the near future?

Fiddler’s Greens: When we first started making tinctures in the Caribbean we would put buds into high proof bottles of rum which we called "Green Dragon".  Under prop 215 we offered our tinctures in both organic cane alcohol and organic olive oil.  We are about to launch our first tincture infused into organic cane alcohol using our amazing cultivar Durban!  We are also doing R&D on some higher dose products.

Tia : What’s your favourite flower and why?

Fiddler’s Greens: Durban!  We have been growing Durban for ten years in the medical market and this cultivar has been in our family of cultivators for over 20 years!  When people think of  classic sativa effects Durban is truly special.  It's piney nose with hints of grapefruit and rotten fruity funk is unmistakable!

Tia : How does Fiddler’s Green decide on the ingredients and components of each specific tincture?

Fiddler’s Greens: All of our tinctures are based on strain specific, whole plant medicine that is simple, consistent and reliable.  We are working with people who have compromised immune systems who need to be able to know everything about what they put in their bodies. When the parent of a child with epilepsy, or autism, or cerebral palsy finds something that works for their child they need to know that it is going to be consistent time after time and that cannot happen if product makers source trim from different sources and blend extracts together to get a specific ratio.

Tia : What channels do you use to market Fiddler’s Green’s products and brand? Which ones have you found most effective?

Fiddler’s Greens: Direct eye to eye contact is our most important tool.  There is so much information and knowledge that has to come with any cannabis product.  We have to be there to answer questions so that people can find what will work best for them as well as train dispensary staff on how to answer questions from the customer.

Tia : How has COVID-19 impacted your business? How have you overcome it?

Fiddler’s Greens: Our challenge has been the contactless purchases.  When a customer scrolls through an online menu they don't get to ask the questions like "would CBDA or CBD work better for my condition?"  they have to make decisions based off of pictures without the interaction or suggestions from the budtender.  We have been using online resources to allow people to learn more as well as offering free education and asking questions through our website.

Tia : What would you recommend for beginners who are looking to try cannabis for the first time?

Fiddler’s Greens: We need to challenge new cannabis users to take responsibility for their experience.  "Start low and go slow but don't be afraid to go all the way!" to quote Dr. Dustin Sulak.  There are great support groups and resources out there that should be used to find the minimum effective dose for yourself. Don't be afraid to reach out or ask questions.  The cannabis community is full of wonderful people who are happy to help.

Always choose sun grown, whole plant products! Know your farmer!

Tia : What is the hardest thing you’ve faced since you started running Fiddler’s Greens?

Fiddler’s Greens: 80 plus years of prohibition. Generations of people have been fed disinformation and propaganda that has created fear and distrust of a plant that has been used by humans from the dawn of time.

Tia : What has been your key to success at Fiddler’s Greens and what would you recommend for other new startups in cannabis? :)

Fiddler’s Greens: People think that we just throw out seeds and rake in money.  This couldn't be further from the truth!  This is one of the most difficult and challenging industries that has ever existed.  If you aren't passionate about what you are doing and if you don't have the drive and fire to pick yourself up after every road block and failure then this isn't for you.

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