Because You Cann - Micro-Cultivation Partner Propels Women Grown Cannabis into Delta 9 Stores
Because You Cann Inc. owner and CEO Serena Donovan, with daughter Julia.
Serena Donovan never imagined she would become a craft cannabis grower while growing up on Vancouver Island, but she’s now the proud owner and CEO of Because You Cann Inc., Delta 9’s first-ever micro-cultivation partner.
The name for Donovan’s company was chosen with hopes it would encourage people to step outside their comfort zone and try cannabis, and it appears to be working. The first shipment of Cherry Punch from Donovan’s Women Grown Cannabis operation in southern Alberta sold out in a week and the second shipment of the indica-leaning hybrid just arrived in Delta 9 stores.
“I believe we’re still the only all-woman management team among the micro-cultivation partners at Delta 9,” said Donovan. “And most of our employees are female. I take huge pride in that, and I started this business because I completely believe in the power of this plant. For me, it's not about the dollars. It's about being able to provide good quality plants to consumers, whether they're on the recreational side or the medicinal side.”
Because You Cann also has a sativa-leaning hybrid named Colada in processing right now, and Donovan is already getting excited about her next strain, which is the first she has developed from her own in-house genetics.
“We’ve got a Violet Riot that’s going to hit the market and it’s purple and peppery,” said Donovan. “It’s going to have a completely different terpene profile compared to anything else we’ve grown. I’m really looking for something that can differentiate us in the market.
Violet Riot. Coming soon from Because You Cann!
“The purple strain is actually called Violet Riot 9. We also have a Violet Riot 8 and a Violet Riot 10, named because we planted 10 seeds to do some pheno-hunting. Seed one is Violet Riot 1, seed two is Violet Riot 2, etc. but we’re playing around with some new names, because even though they’re siblings, they’re completely different. Violet Riot 8 flowers are lime green and smell like cupcakes. And Violet Riot 10 is a beautiful pink. It’s certainly been interesting!”
And it all started with a headache.
The 46-year-old Donovan has suffered from migraines for most of her life, but they started to get worse in her 40s. She tried all kinds of prescribed narcotic combinations and traditional prevention methods, but nothing worked. The last straw was when a doctor suggested an anti-depressant. She ripped up the prescription, booked a medical cannabis appointment, and CBD changed her life.
“When I became a medical patient it completely changed my whole mindset,” said Donovan. “It gave me my life back. Suffering 16 days out of a month with migraine is no fun. Now I'm down to two or three days every two or three months. It's made a huge difference for me.”
Once Donovan started to think about cannabis as a healer rather than a drug, it was full steam ahead, if she could just persuade her husband Ian, a fourth-generation farmer, and their five children, that cannabis cultivation was a good way to diversify their farming operation.
Sibling from the Violet Riot family
“We got married in 2009 and this is his family farm,” said Donovan “He graciously took myself and my three children and we blended families with him and his two children. He has been farming here since he was 17.”
Once her family was on board, Donovan began the process of learning everything she could about cannabis branding and production through the Cannabis Education Program offered by Mount Royal University (MRU) in Alberta. At the same time, she was studying the Cannabis Act, developing a business plan, and looking for the perfect growing setup.
After researching numerous companies, Donovan decided that Delta 9’s proprietary Grow Pods would be her best option. By June 2019 she had the Grow Pods in her facility and by February 2020 she had secured all the required licenses. It took a year to get everything rolling.
“Delta 9 has been fabulous to work with,” said Donovan. “They helped a lot with both the setup and the licensing. Derek Reimer, their VP of Compliance Services, might be the best human on the face of the earth. He knows how to speak Health Canada's language. I don't think he gets to do very many fun things. He works so hard.”
After shadowing growers at Delta 9 for two weeks and purchasing her first clones, Donovan was in business, but there was a lot to learn. You would think that being married to an experienced grain farmer might have been helpful, especially when discussing growing but…
“I think he would say he’s learned not to offer suggestions at the wrong times,” said Donovan with a laugh. “But obviously I couldn’t have done this without him. He has been incredibly supportive, and he helps quite a bit. He’s been very interested in watching growing of the indoor variety. It’s two completely different kinds of farming.”
Cherry Punch – 1st Because You Cann product to be sold in Delta 9 Cannabis Stores
Because You Cann now has 12 Grow Pods and 13 employees, 10 of whom are women, including Donovan’s 24-year-old daughter Julia, who acts as the Head Grower.
“She's fabulous,” said Donovan. “She runs my floor, and she knows what's going on in every single pod. It's an honour to work beside her and to see all the things that she's been able to accomplish. She is immensely proud of what she’s doing. I think that's a big thing. I want people to have a job that they love. I don't want people who are here just because they need a paycheck. That's been a huge piece of this getting this business going. Everybody who works here wants to be here.”
Establishing Because You Cann has been a labour of love for Donovan, and it certainly hasn’t been without its challenges, but when things get a little too stressful, she knows just what to do.
“I go into one of my grow rooms, take some really deep breaths and surround myself with my beautiful, lovely lady plants that are doing the best that they can for us,” said Donovan.
“We thank them every day.”
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