Smart Storage Maximizes Production for Marijuana Growers
There’s a new legitimate cash crop in Ohio. Medical marijuana. The state currently licenses 24 growers but strictly limits the space allotted to each farm. Customized storage solutions can help farms optimize operation capacity while minimizing energy costs and carbon footprint.
The Galenas Medical Marijuana Cultivation Facility in Akron is the state’s only certified organic grower. It is also one of the 12 Ohio small cultivator licensees, with a maximum 3,000 square feet of growing area.
With Spacesaver high-density mobile storage, Galenas effectively has at least double the space of a similar small license grower. Even with the smaller 3000 square feet facility, the mobile shelving and maximized grow areas allow them to produce at the level of a large facility.
Galenas worked with Patterson Pope in the design stage to develop a plan for its space that would maximize its production capacity.
“Building out a couple of rooms that utilize our square footage allotment in the most efficient way possible was a high priority for us from the very beginning,” said Galenas CEO Geoff Korff. The overall goal was to “build an all-natural, optimized growing situation.”
Special considerations for the marijuana industry include:
- Lighting — as Korff put it, “You feed the plants light just like you feed them nutrients.”
- Good soil
- Controlling carbon dioxide to support photosynthesis
The storage solution needed to maximize space while also controlling for these factors. Plus, consistency mattered too. “Every 4x8 bench is exactly the same so that we don’t end up with a lot of dead zones,” Korff said.
Galenas wanted to maximize its growing canopy while also reducing the carbon footprint. The design was custom-tailored to be operationally and energy-efficient and sustainable, Korff said. “We want to draw from the grid as little as possible while also providing the most optimal environment for the plants that we can.”
This was accomplished with two integrated approaches. First, relying on mobile storage takes away the need for aisles. With the benches installed on high-density mobile storage carriages, the canopy was maximized. “It allows us to save as much space as possible by being able to roll the plants together,” Korff said.
Building vertically made a big difference as well. Most of its competitors are only growing plants on one level. Yet Galenas began with plants on two stories and planned to expand onto its third level as demand increased in the local market.
“We built these rooms to accommodate three tiers of growing space,” Korff said. “There are challenges of being up in the air treating plants, but we can increase capacity and volume in any particular growth cycle. Spacesaver gives us the opportunity to really crank out as much quality product as we can.”
Along with the space for sprouting the seeds and cultivating the growing plants, Galenas required room to harvest its product and clean and package the marijuana for Ohio’s medical patients. “The challenge in this state is to maximize the utility of the space,” Korff said.
“Spacesaver gives us the opportunity to really crank out as much quality product as we can.” — Geoff Korff, CEO of the Galenas Medical Marijuana Cultivation Facility.
Only 18 stationary 4x8 tables would have fit in the facility’s 3,000 square feet cultivation table. By compacting the aisles to remove wasted aisle space, Galenas could go up to 24 tables. The GROW Mobile System also maximizes yield by leveraging the vertical space. Now a total of 72 tables are possible. Mechanical-assist handles facilitate the Galenas team in moving thousands of pounds of plant tables with minimal effort.
With Spacesaver’s mobile benching solution consisting of 20-foot-tall widespan shelving mounted on a 50-foot-long ActivRAC in both of its grow rooms, Korff thinks Galenas “is probably the best facility in the state.”
“We built this facility to essentially be a big laboratory,” Korff said. “It’s intentionally done so plants can stay clean and disease-free.” Areas of the facility are divided by transition rooms, where cold air blasts anyone entering to remove contaminants.
In July 2019, Galenas first crop of 900 plants was ready for harvest. Korff was proud to “finally have something to bring to the patients of Ohio.” He told local media. “We are producing the cleanest, highest quality medicine that patients in Ohio will come to expect on the market.”
Passed in 2016, Ohio’s medical marijuana program is still in the early stages of growth. Galenas is one of the frontrunners getting up and running to supply the market. Spacesaver’s mobile and vertical solutions helped plant the seed for this successful business to sprout.
Advice to Other Cultivators
“Build your operation for your exact location,” said Geoff Korff, CEO of the Galenas Medical Marijuana Cultivation Facility. You’ve got to take into consideration all the factors in your ambient environment. In Akron, that’s cold, dry winters. But it could be different where you are. Ask yourself, “how is the outside world going to affect what you are doing to maximize the productivity of the plant?”