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Podcast #1 – Chris Murray

Podcast  |  10 min read  |  March 27, 2020

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– Hello and welcome to Repair the World with Tikun, I am Alexandria Collins and today I’m joined by Chris Murray, our lead cultivator at Tikun along California. He has been working professionally in the industry for 15 years and knows everything about cannabis like every time I talk to him, it amazes me. So welcome, Chris.

– Thank you so much.

– Yeah, I’m super happy to have you. So can you talk us through, you know, backstory, we wanna go way back to your first experience with cannabis. What was that like for you?

– My first experience with cannabis would have been 1995.

– Okay.

– Setting, that’s rural Arkansas, believe it or not. My dad at the time had a living situation where he had moved to Arkansas for a couple of years. So for the summers, I would go from Southern California to Arkansas. So a little bit of like culture shock going there and doing my whole life being in the south thing. On top of that, my brother and my uncle basically got me trying cannabis for the first time. I was pretty young, 12 years old at the time. And basically I discovered my love for cannabis at that time and didn’t really know what it would mean to me then. But knew that I would have… It would play a large part in my life, I think ever from a young age like that so.

– Yeah.

– It’s been around for a long time in my life now.

– Yeah, it seems to be a bonding experience. Yes, first…

– Yes, it’s very communal. You know, it’s a really communal experience. And that’s really what draws people to cannabis, I think a lot. If it’s not so much the effect, it’s more of the communal bond between the people that are sharing it, generally, it’s shared and it’s passed around in a circle. And that’s, it’s kind of like a human thing that you’re not really aware of until you kind of dig into it and get involved in it.

– Excuse me let me closer. Perfect. Well, that’s amazing. And you know, even though you were young, and so, but that’s a lot of people’s stories, you know, and it’s with family. And so you’re in a safe place. And now, you know, fast forward, you’ve been working in cannabis for about 15 years. And so what has that journey been for you? How many greenhouses have you worked in and what got you to Tikun?

– Oh, my Gosh, so I started out in 2000. Professionally, let’s see, 20 years. Not 20, quite, not quite, probably 15 years ago. Professionally, I started growing in a basement, it was my first foray into you could say commercial growing, it was a 20 light operation. And we had that one going at my residence. That was more of what you would call a gray market or collective growth that time. All Prop 215 stuff if you’re familiar with that in California. So we had that going for a couple years, I then moved on into warehouse grows, sometime probably two years after that I got my own warehouse where that was a 40 light operation. So we moved into like a, from a residential setting into a commercial setting at that time. And from there, it’s kind of snowballed, so the way that it works in this industry generally is somebody you will run into, if you have your product with you, or if you’re always marketing your product, will be really impressed with it and they’ll say, you know, you produce this and you tell them about it, and if you did, then a lot of the times, they’ll offer you an opportunity. So that had happened to me from a local guy in town, and we kind of just scaled up from 40. I started helping on 100 light operations soon thereafter. And it really snowballed into indoor and commercial operations at that time being residential commercials. And then I decided in, what would it be, six years ago now to get into the green house arena which would be automated light deprivation greenhouses, we were on the mountain in Southern California here, I don’t really wanna say where. But at a big farm that I was running and we built and the new hot technology at the time, it wasn’t really big and widespread in Southern California, it was, you know, greenhouses coming out and competing with the indoor market and trying to come after some of their market share with, you know, 1/3, 1/4 of the cost of production. So I knew looking forward that that was gonna be the way the future in cannabis and really dove in to that arena and perfecting my craft there and not so much focusing on indoor operations, but all at the same time having 50 light, 100 light, 200 light operations running at the same time as several thousand square foot greenhouses. Fast forward, a couple years from there, maybe three and a 1/2 years ago, I got into multiple large scale greenhouse so you can talk about 15 to 25,000 square foot at that time, getting into starting to manage other farms in the area where I was at, up on the hill, like I said, and you know, word travels through circles and distribution arenas are very small and tight knit as well. So as distributors find out about your product and start asking around and you make relationships with them, it’s easier to create interest in your product and also create interest from other farmers that want you to take on their situation so that they can kind of take the hands off and let you make money for them.

– Yeah.

– So at that time, that’s what it was all about. Obviously, it was about medicine and compassion, but all of those were, you know, Prop 215 stuff. Now we’re into the legal market here with Tikun and here we are with 80,000 square foot of greenhouse.

– Wow.

– The largest facility in Adelanto, which is a city here in the high desert of Southern California. I believe we’re the largest canopy in the city. It’s going amazing, it’s more than I could have ever expected as far as the performance, you know, getting into these large, these large scale 10,000 foot bays and 20,000 foot bays are where the known difficulty lies in this industry. And it’s like, you know, a lot of people don’t wanna touch it, stuff this big because it can make or break you, essentially.

– Yeah.

– You know, it’s kind of like a head coach of a sports team or something, if you don’t perform, your head is on the chopping block. So in that sense, it’s a large risk and a large reward.

– Yeah, I was wondering because when I think about, you know, growing the plants, like, you know, me, I will grow herbs in a garden. And it’s like, oh, it’s simple enough, but this is clearly way more complex from having toured the facilities. So can you talk a little bit about like, what some of those, you know, baseline, what you should or should not do when you’re trying to grow, you know, cannabis.

– Cannabis, general rules of thumb for home cultivator, it’s really about keep it simple. Less is more, environmental conditions are key, water is key and the air quality is key. So if you’re a home grower, I’m gonna say monitor your CO2, you’re gonna wanna have levels of CO2 in between 300 parts per million and 1200 parts per million depending on what part you’re in the cycle, that CO2 is vital for converting into plant energy. So if you want the plant to grow and actually indoors, in an indoor situation, which most home growers are, you’re gonna need to supplement with CO2, so that’s one. You’re gonna want CO2. Yeah. Number two temperatures, a safe zone for temperatures would be anywhere from 72 degrees to 80 degrees, let’s say.

– Yeah. During your vegetative cycle or bloom cycle, as long as you’re within that bandwidth there, day and night, you’re gonna get great results. Water temperatures are very important. Water temperature, you’re gonna want anywhere from 64 to 74 degrees in my opinion, anywhere above that and you start to lose oxygen content. So as you lose oxygen content, you’re losing the availability to give the plant oxygen, the roots oxygen, which is the reason you’re feeding whatsoever.

– Yeah.

– So it’s decreasing in quality as you go up in temperature generally. Another thing you’re gonna do is nutrient, so on your nutrient, it’s gonna be basic, you’re gonna wanna stick to what you’re finding in the store. It doesn’t have to be super creative, you can go with an agricultural salt if you wanted to do a two part or a single part salt, like, you know, I’ll just give vege bloom or plug, that’s a great single nutrient. All you’re gonna need is a digital scale and one nutrient and you can go basically all the way through a harvest if you wanted to. If somebody were trying to keep it as simple as possible. Another company I love is Front Row Ag, that’s a product we use here. I do love their products and, you know, their soil for the medium that you choose to grow in is also equally as important. We do all different types here, but what we’ve zeroed in on is doing a living cocoa medium, which will give us the best best of both worlds, meaning we’re gonna get the benefits of an organic soil and at the same time, we’re gonna to have the feeding rate and the higher uptake availability of a hydroponic medium, meaning we’re gonna be able to feed it multiple times per day.

– Awesome. So what’s your favorite part of the growth processing? What gets you most excited? Is it one they’re baby? You know, clones or when they’re huge?

– Yes. For me, and I know that doesn’t answer your question.

– Yes, all of the above. For me, I love it all. For me, I like to, I consider myself a specialist in babies and pest control/disease management. So if you can do those things, aside from the environmental things that I talked about, that is the key factor to growing clean quality cannabis. A quality environment, a steady stable diet, you don’t have to have all these fancy ups and downs and 10 different products to steady, stable, complete diet, check your pH, you know, you’re gonna want a pH range in between 6.0 and 6.6 depending on whether you’re in a hydroponic medium or soil, and you know, good water, good air, some CO2.

– Great. So, something I like to ask all of our guests is a kind of a personal question, outside of cannabis, how would you say that on your daily, you help to repair the world?

– How do I help to repair the world? Generally, I try to spread good energy wherever I go. I try to be a source of light for the people around me in the sense that I don’t like negativity or you know, generally get involved with it. I generally am trying to see the bright side of everything or glasses half full type of individual. I’m finding as I get older that that mentality is very beneficial for people around you, it’s very beneficial for my like, mental health in the way that I operate. As I was a younger guy, it wasn’t necessarily so. I’m so oriented in this direction, but as I get older, the more I find myself being open and honest and happy and high energy. The better things happen around you, you know, so like, as I’m opening up to what, it may sound weird, but as I’m opening up to like, you know, the universe and kind of just like learning about myself, and learning how to go through life, you know, I’m finding that I’m trying to be nice to everyone that I’m coming in contact with. I’m trying to, you know, I’m trying to tip the person at Starbucks a little bit extra, I’m trying to help the guy that’s sitting out in front of the thing, I’m coaching my kids, you know, baseball teams, and I’m trying to, I’m just trying to be the best person I can, you get, I guess I could say, I try to do what’s right. More so than, you know, what’s legal or what’s considered right or wrong, what feels right to me is generally what I do. So I guess, it’s hard to answer that question concisely, but I think I’ll leave it there. I try to be as good of a person as I can and I try to just help and be selfless as much as I can. And I’m finding that it’s very rewarding, it makes me happy.

– So good. Yeah, exactly what you put out is what you’ll get back. So when you’re giving that good energy, I’m sure it’s multiplying with the people that you’re working with, and you know, your partner and your children.

– Exactly.

– So that’s awesome. Well, thank you so much, Chris, for telling us a bit about your backstory and what you’ve done at Tikun, and just in general, is really awesome to see the passion at Tikun, in this facility, cause everyone here really does care about what they do, and they have such interesting stories. So we appreciate your time. So thank you all so much for listening in today. Actually, before we head out, Chris, can you tell us where people can find you? Where they can follow you? How can they support you?

– I’m on Instagram. @drdank, D-R-D-A-N-K, 0420, you can follow me there. I’m on LinkedIn, Chris Murray, that’s about it. I don’t really do a bunch of the social media. I try to stay away from it.

– Awesome.

– So, I’m gonna work on that.

– Awesome. Thank you again everyone for listening and we’ll talk to you next time.

– Thank you.



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