Meet the Queen of Clean at Delta 9  - Clean, quality cannabis the key to happy customers

Meet the Queen of Clean at Delta 9 - Clean, quality cannabis the key to happy customers

Hollie Kehler, Director of Sanitation at Delta 9

When Delta 9 was founded in 2013 by the father and son team of Bill and John Arbuthnot, they knew that one of the major keys to future success would be producing clean, contaminant free, quality cannabis, not only to satisfy Health Canada regulations, but also to ensure long-term customer satisfaction.

The Queen of Clean

Enter the Queen of Clean, Hollie Kehler, the Director of Sanitation at Delta 9. One of the original employees at Delta 9, the 50-year-old former community healthcare worker was persuaded to switch careers by her friend Bill Arbuthnot, who liked what he saw in her work ethic and experience.

“Whatever needed to be done in the early days, I did,” said Hollie. “From cleaning to trimming to shipping and more. You had to be a jack-of-all trades in the early days. Now my daily responsibilities include managing the medical cannabis shipments, looking after the vault, keeping track of inventory and running the sanitation department. If I’m busy I’m happy.”

Hollie supervises 10 people and spends half her time at a desk and the other half surveying the Delta 9 facility to make sure best practices are being followed throughout.

“That’s extremely important to us as a company,” said Hollie. “We want a clean environment and clean cannabis and there are numerous processes that have to be followed. That’s one of the reasons why legal cannabis can be more expensive when compared to street weed. You can't imagine what you might be inhaling when you buy something off the street. Plants can be affected by mould, e-coli and all kinds of other contaminants. Our job is to make sure we produce clean, quality cannabis for our customers.”

Site-Wide Cleaning and Sanitation

Hollie’s clean machine swings into action as soon as someone steps through the door of the Delta 9 growing facility.

“Clean Grow Pods are important,” said Hollie. “But there’s also general sanitation. You've got your laundry, bathrooms, the lunchroom, floors, doorknobs and handles, all of it. The whole facility has to be cleaned regularly, and that includes the processing rooms and the vaults.”

Employees change into special uniforms when they arrive for work at Delta 9, and their shoes also stay inside the facility, so as to not bring contaminants in from the outside. Each staff member gets 11 sets of scrubs, which are laundered once a week. Additionally, there are mats at each doorway containing a cleaning solution that ensures a person’s footwear is sanitized before they travel into the production area.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has to be worn at all times when working with the cannabis plants. This includes facemasks, hairnets and gloves, which are changed before moving from one Grow Pod to the next.

“The plants are treated pretty much like patients in a hospital,” said Hollie. “And Grow Pods are cleaned thoroughly after every harvest.”

Delta 9 Grow Pod – ready for new grow

A Delta 9 Grow Pod, ready for a new grow!

After the Harvest – Grow Pod Cleaning Procedures

  • Remove unharvested plant material and growing medium.
  • Collect debris that has fallen off the plants, for destruction and burning.
  • Open the lights and clean them inside and out.
  • Clean the ducting from light to light.
  • Wash down the walls.
  • Sweep out additional debris.
  • Clean the growing troughs.
  • Clean the coils inside the air conditioners.
  • Change the light filters.
  • Change the carbon air filters.
  • Wash the floors.
  • Fog the entire Grow Pod with a mist of cleaning solution.

Because the Grow Pods are self-contained, any problems with individual grows are limited to that specific batch of cannabis, but they still have to be sanitized after every harvest. The Grow Pods must then receive a final approval from the QA department, before they can host the next crop of cannabis.

Feeding the Lump Buster

Feeding the Lump Buster

Comprehensive Plant Disposal

As per Health Canada, after harvesting, the leftover plant stems and roots have to be put through a machine called a lump buster to render them “improbable” according to regulations, otherwise meaning they won’t grow. Any remaining leaves and stock are also burned in a special incinerator. Once the process is complete, regulations require detailed reporting of the entire procedure for every plant.

A Passion for Quality

“Sanitation is top-of-mind in everything we do,” said Hollie. “There are numerous processes and parameters we have to adhere to, and standards we have to meet. We take great pride in what we do, and everybody at Delta 9 is very passionate about producing high-quality cannabis.”

The most enjoyable part of Hollie’s role as the Queen of Clean? The satisfaction of a job well done, happy customers and being able to contribute to a Manitoba success story.

“Watching my friend’s company thrive,” she said. “That’s special.”

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