Interview by Mina Ramos
A few weeks ago on a phone call, a close friend of mine mentioned to me that she was starting to grow cannabis and psilocybin mushrooms at home with her partner and plans to sell what was harvested. She had just finished a ceremony with Golden Teachers (a type of psychoactive mushroom) and spoke highly of the experience that she had and about the therapeutic and spiritual benefits. I was kind of shocked because I had never known her to do something like mushrooms. I remember her saying that the thought of tripping made her anxious. Given that she lives in a one-bedroom apartment with her partner and two dogs, I imagined that she would be growing maybe six or seven plants. I was amazed when I went to visit a few weeks later to find a highly organized set up with about 60 plants and a mushroom greenhouse area. As people who are trying to grow everything organically, with as little waste as possible, on a tight budget in a one-bedroom apartment, I thought it’d be great to interview them about what they’re doing so far and how it has been going for them.
How did the idea to grow weed and mushrooms arise?
While looking at the role that money has had in our lives and analyzing our values, we decided to embark on a journey that has brought joy into our lives, our home and our hearts. Both of us have had toxic relationships to money and how it was earned. We decided to make a change.
For us, that change became an indoor cannabis garden and cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms, AKA “magic mushrooms”.
One of us had a conversation with a close friend about income, and the friend called us out on the way that we were bringing money into the home. Both of us have struggled with addiction and often relied on “survival skills” to meet our chemical dependencies and basic needs. But we weren’t there anymore. In the conversation, it was agreed upon that the way one earns money is relevant to one’s spiritual well-being. What we had been doing in order to earn money wasn’t sustainable. Our friend pointed out that having intrinsic values that are modeled in the ways that we bring money into the home is important for our soul. We talked together and agreed to shift away from an outdated mentality that was based on survival skills, developed while in the heat of a nasty addiction. We were able to and wanted to move into a way of living that can be considered earning a living vs fighting to survive. On our healing journeys, moving away from addictions, one of us was introduced to plant medicine. These experiences have been key in freeing us from our dependency and fears and we have become strong advocates for their use.
We knew that the cannabis market is lacking in organic growing, and that pesticide-free growing is paramount for those using plants for medicine. Having had life changing spiritual experiences during psychedelic plant medicine ceremonies, we wanted to find a way to make both organically grown cannabis and plant medicines more readily available for people we know. We found a way of growing cannabis and cultivating psilocybin mushrooms, known as “magic mushrooms” that was both organic, and full of love. We are growing with the intention of medicine and for the use of personal development/inner healing. Plant medicines are showing groundbreaking transformations for people struggling with trauma, addictions, anxiety, depression, and more. We are not by any means treating people, we are providing safe access to sacred plant medicines, grown organically, safely, and with love for people on the path of healing and self-development.
How far into the project are you?
With respect to the mushrooms we are growing, we have had a full cycle of mushrooms and a number of flushes, we are still producing fruits from this first cycle (Stropharia Cubensis Cuban). We have taken spore prints from our first batch that we will use for our next grow. We are expanding and shifting how we are producing them now. We purchased the spawn pre-inoculated our first time. This time we will be spawning ourselves. Exciting! All this lingo just means getting the mycelium started and established. But we are working to be able to do the entire process, from start to finish, here, ourselves. It’s super fun to learn and it’s been inspiring to find out that we’re capable of this. There’s been a lot of learning, and although I don’t think we’ll ever stop researching (while we embark on this journey at least), it’s honestly a lot easier to do than we had realized.
Weed is a bit of a different story! These plants take a while to grow. I’d say our plants are about 1.5 months old and younger and we are probably 3 months from harvest. It has been incredible getting to know the plants during this time. We both have such a new level of respect for them and are really enjoying getting to know them. They have a sweet, delicate smell and they dance with the fans blowing winds. They have dark deep shades of green and some bright green in them too. They are such a beautiful plant that I never was able to appreciate in this way. There is something about being part of their lives and supporting their growth that has shifted my relationship to them.
If you are interested in learning with us, feel free to contact us on our IG @TheBluestHeron. We are happy to give you some good resources for getting started with mushrooms. The great thing about mushrooms is that the process is pretty quick! You just need to set up the right environment and keep things super sterile. You are also welcome to follow our journey there as we will be continuing to post content related to what we’re up to, what we’re learning and where we’re headed as our path ends and curves. We would love to hear about your journey as well, connection is what life is about for us.
What does your setup look like so far?
Our set up is currently in a 9.5′ x 11′ room that we have divided into two sections of the following dimensions: 3.5′ x 11′ and 6′ x 11`. This may not sound like a lot of space, and it’s not. However, we are making great use out of the space that we currently have available. We are starting on a small scale before scaling up.
The 6′ x 11′ segment is designed for our cannabis plants. We currently have three 1500 watt LED full spectrum grow lights hanging from the ceiling. Underneath the lights, you find a lush, dark green landscape of branches and leaves, grown in a beautiful and rich living organic soil full of millions of living microbes. There is a forest green crop cover which helps to retain the beautiful living water. We use spring water that we gather weekly from a nearby spring in order to provide fresh, ph balanced, living water to our plants. The crop cover we grow with the cannabis plants includes alfalfa, clovers, and other plants that get cut as they grow. The remains left in the soil further the cycle of life and rebirth, death and decay, modeling nature. A balanced and realistic representation of what we believe in. The landscape of cannabis plants is growing bigger and brighter every day. They are currently still in their vegetative state. There are three different ages of plants in there right now, the oldest being about 45 days, the youngest are seedlings that are ready to be transplanted into small cups and the middle-aged plants are just over 30 days old.
The 3.5′ x 11′ space is currently designed for mushroom cultivation and we have placed four 4-tier mini greenhouses converted into fruiting chambers for mushrooms. This is called the Martha Stewart technique for growing mushrooms. These are on their way to each having their own humidifier, grow lights, fans, and a few other adjustments that maintain an environment suitable for growing mushrooms. Right now, one of our mushroom greenhouses is operational and one of the shelves is producing mushrooms. This week we are in the process of completing the other three greenhouses and by this time next month, all of the greenhouses, and each shelf of the greenhouses with be producing psilocybin mushrooms. Also in the room, you’ll find many fans, both small and large, two clipboards on the walls to track temperature and humidity of the room, some shelving for work equipment and other plant care essentials. Also, you can find plant seeds and mushroom spore prints, a small portable microscope, ph meters, light meters and other handy items that are important for monitoring the plants‘ life cycles.
We are living in a one bedroom apartment and we have decided to live in the living room space in order to have this fully functioning operation in our home. We have found it humbling and nurturing in our personal development to look at space, what we need, what we don’t, and what we are taking for granted. We have recently transitioned even further from having a bedroom, by moving from our living room bedroom to a tiny nook of our apartment near the front door, and dividing the space using our clothing storage and dog beds! By doing this we have opened up the living room portion of our apartment to grow vegetables, and for cannabis plants in their vegetative state to keep separated when we begin to transition cannabis plants into the flowering stage. Moving forward this will allow us to have two spaces for the separate cycles that are required to grow cannabis. We found it important to shape a space for the development of a sustainable, year round (southern Ontario winters) growing of organic fruits and vegetables.
How have you combined your ethics in your practice so far? What are your hopes for the future?
A lot of this came to us because of our values and that has shaped a lot of our research. We are using “Regenerative Farming Practices” as best as we can within our apartment. This means we use a crop cover for our weed plants (we use a mix of clover, alfalfa etc.) that continues to give nutrients to the soil and keep the topsoil cover moist. We also make our soil mix so that it is living/no-till soil. This soil gets stronger as things grow in it and has a lot of beautiful bacteria and fungi that continue to thrive. We don’t have to add fertilizers to this soil and if we do, we add “compost tea” which is basically brewing earthworm castings, compost and kelp meal (which is all in the soil already). We are using organic and locally sourced products/ingredients as best as we can. We use spring water to water everybody, which means the water they drink is ALIVE! We also got worms, who eat our compost food and then create worm castings which provide some of the best nourishment for our plants. We feel that even though we are growing in an apartment, we are using practices that are going to heal not harm. We think it’s about recognizing mushrooms and weed as healers. When we are growing, we are trying to sustain life around us, including the environment. There are so many living things in this process, that deserve respect, dignity and care! These practices can be expanded if we are able to practice this outdoors.
It is our hope to charge fees on a sliding scale as we do want these things to be accessible to other people. On one hand, yes, we want to have a source of income, but also see these sacred plants as living beings who provide opportunities for healing and growth and want people to have access to them, and in this we find a sliding scale system to be important. We are honoured to be holding intention into what we are doing. We pray over our plants and mushrooms and we honour them. So our ethics are guiding us: accessible to others, respecting this earth, creating life and allowing nature to show us the way. Honouring non-human life, trying to live in love and recognizing oppressive systems. Growing has become a spiritual practice for us. Our hope for the future is to see where the future takes us. We want to stay grounded in our intention and continue to have fun and enjoy learning about getting to know mushrooms and weed.
What are the connections for you with these plants and healing? Why are they important to you?
We have both used both of these plants in our lives for different reasons. For us, when we talk about sacred plant medicine ceremonies, we aren’t talking about cannabis. Yes, cannabis is a sacred plant medicine and for us, there’s a difference in the way that cannabis and other sacred plant medicines are used. We both still smoke weed somewhat regularly, lately, it’s been in the evening, most days for one of us and on occasion for the other.
Ceremony as white settlers means doing our research in order to connect with our own people, and use practices from our ancestors. We are mindful and aware of cultural appropriation. We focus on earth based traditions of Western Europe, so typically we will open by ‘casting a circle’ and acknowledging the Four Corners. We may build an altar dedicated to nature and we speak to spirit and the universe. If you are a settler and not interested in ancestral practices, you can still have ceremony without cultural appropriation, just do your research. Also, we know the land we are on (Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Anishinaabek peoples, Treaty 3) and the land we get our water from (Neutral Territory and Mohawk Territory). We give thanks and acknowledge that this land is stolen and our complex relationship as settlers here. We are on Dish with One Spoon Territory and we are learning to live as such.
One of us has attended sacred plant medicine (Ayahuasca and Iboga) retreats with the guidance of respected people who host them. These were super helpful in personal development and in severing the ties with harmful chemical dependencies (drug addictions). Having learned that magic mushrooms are another type of plant medicine that are used in ceremonies, becoming curious and inspired by experiences with Ayahuasca and Iboga and other plant medicines, it became exciting to consider the power of magic mushrooms and to start a journey with them. Having limited prior knowledge that indoor mushroom cultivation exists and could be grown at home, it was only a matter of time before curiosity turned into passionate yearning. We both owe a great thanks to sacred plant medicine ceremonies in lending us the opportunity to look at ourselves, for healing and bringing into our lives an enriched sense of the beautiful people that we are. By no means does this mean we have substituted our drug use by taking psychedelic drugs.
Plant medicines ceremonies are sacred and can be held in many different ways, and for us when it comes to holding ceremony, we find it invaluable to wait 1-3 months in between. Sometimes there can be ceremony back to back, two ceremonies in two days, but then focus on integration. We at this point have only taken one ceremony at a time, one day, and then waited. We find integration to be an essential part of the process. Integration requires time between in order to take the insights that were gained from the plant medicines and explore/live out of that wisdom. Both of us have history with addiction and daily dependence. One of us has struggled with intravenous drugs and homelessness. Our paths have been independent and very different at times, but we both had an undeniable sense of urgency and need to be taking strong and harmful chemicals. As such, we both see it necessary to respect the plant medicine ceremonies and to fully integrate our experiences and not to be recklessly taking mushrooms in order to find some sort of escape. Instead, we find ourselves living in grace for blessings that have come from the use of plant medicines.
We have found a lot of insights into ourselves that we have been able to carry with us out of the ceremonies. We have carried into our daily lives a new found appreciation for who we are, what we are doing with our lives, the love that we share with each other, for ourselves, for our friends and family and gratitude for the blessings that we have everyday. I don’t know about anybody reading this, but for me, to be able to find gratitude for who I am, the blessings in my life and the love that I share with friends and family is everything and more. To be able to know myself better from a psilocybin mushroom ceremony, knowing the love that I have to share and seeing the love that is all around me is something I couldn’t put a price on – and something that in the past I couldn’t have imagined would come out of a plant medicine ceremony. We do not ingest the fungi often, these are lasting effects from genuine, heartfelt and inspiring experiences that were gifts of plant medicine ceremonies.
What tips would you have for people who are starting out?
Depending on your current financial situation, be ready for money to be tight, and if you can, don’t obsess about it. We’re obviously looking to turn a modest profit, as we already shared. However, the intention behind these changes in our lives are born out of a spiritually sick relationship with money including how money has been earned for us in the past. Money stress is terrible and this kind of thing does require some financial investments that can add up pretty quick. These costs are short term costs, as the perpetual cycle of growth and rebirth of the plants will compensate the original investment. If managed properly and handled responsibly, the money returned for the hard days of work can effectively be reinvested into the system and create an opportunity for prosperity. If this is something you’re about to start doing yourself, do your research and buy what you need, leave the rest. There’s a whole bunch of fancy stuff out there, especially in the realm of growing. We put the most of our money and our energy into our soil. One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned in this process, is that it all comes down to soil. You can have the best temperature, tools, state of the art lights etc. but if your soil is sick nothing will thrive. So that’s where we invested.
We also made this what we do. So we don’t have money to spend but we don’t need to go out and do stuff. We were in a position with just enough money to get started on this adventure; nothing else to spare. It’s hard to give any sort of approximate sense of what that looks like financially because everybody’s space and size, as well as goals, are completely different. All we know is that we had just enough money to get started. Every dollar coming in goes to our bills or our plants. Thankfully we love what we’re doing, we have a great time learning about this stuff and we love getting dirty in the soil. We have a blast going to the spring to collect water and take our dogs with us. Spending time being with the plants after we’ve watered feels like being outside after a rainfall — the smell and the feeling in the air. Watching them grow is a joy and we are very busy with them so we aren’t left wanting to spend money on other stuff! If you are growing for personal use, you don’t need a ton of stuff and can get started fairly quickly. Have fun with it. Again, if you have questions, please ask!!! @TheBluestHeron – we’ll be happy to provide resources that have been invaluable to us.
If you do plan to embark on growing and building relationships with either cannabis or mushrooms, please do your research around legality so you can make informed choices. Although having long histories of medicinal and therapeutic use, both weed and mushrooms carry criminalization. Even though weed is legal, there are specifications for growing and licensing requirements that you may choose to follow. You can order spores for mushrooms online and grow kits but that is where things end. Pharmaceutical companies have a lot to lose if people have access to these beautiful teachers and friends.