Before we dive into all the other exciting articles we have planned for Woody Nelson, we wanted to take a moment to introduce ourselves, explain why we're here, and share where this adventure might be headed. We spoke with a few of the folks behind Woody Nelson, including one of our founders, Joe Corea, to help write this post. So without further ado, welcome aboard!
The Woody Nelson story begins with a big idea and a group of friends. Two of our four founders were born and raised in Nelson, the heart of cannabis country. With backgrounds in technology, finance, real estate development, and, of course, weed, we decided to pioneer the digital transformation of cannabis production. We asked ourselves, "If we put incredible genetics and legendary talent in a state-of-the-art facility with all the bells and whistles, could we grow space weed?"
We weren't early to the party, but we saw a gap in the market. Growing up around cannabis, our standards were high, and we believed we could do better. We wanted to create a brand and products that represent and honor the culture. Coming home to Nelson and building something for the community here means a lot to us.
From the beginning, the tone for Woody Nelson was set by the founders and early hires. Important values included authenticity, accountability, and a fearlessness when it came to big ideas. We wanted to be respectful of the legacy market and build our brand with integrity and transparency. As we started to grow, people noticed, and before we knew it, we had assembled an all-star team. From horticulture to quality assurance, it's our people who make this place special.
With a vision in mind, it was time to build a foundation. The first step was to create a facility where we could grow some space weed. We needed a bona fide agricultural engineer with a deep understanding of biomimetics and industrial design. Jolyon Saville-Peck was introduced to the group through an old roommate and spent at least an hour trying to talk the team out of such grand ambitions. But it didn't matter because he was exactly the right person for the job and knew it was his opportunity to design an epic weed facility.
After winning Jolyon over with promises of fiscal responsibility and the opportunity to integrate cutting-edge agricultural technology throughout the plant habitats, we had to figure out where to set up shop. The first opportunity was in Nanaimo, but after some challenges with zoning, the team was left with a lack of options, and time was running out. That's when it came down to our one shot. We found a beautiful site on 6 Mile Road in Nelson, and like the saying goes, "This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo."
We gave it everything we had, and it still came down to the wire. But in the end, we were the proud owners of a 30,000 square foot facility with a rich history and all the potential in the world. Named after the song by Eminem, this was the inception of Project 8 Mile. It doesn't hurt that there are a few delightful trailer parks in the area.
With the facility acquired, we needed to create a new design—one that minimized our financial footprint, took full advantage of the limited space, and provided opportunities for future expansion and growth. Jolyon describes the electrical system like the head of an octopus, with tentacles that can be hooked up to a new building or warehouse when needed. The same goes for piping and other systems. Finding a balance between designing a space that will work for a few years but also in the long term was important, and flexibility was vital.
At this point, the branding was still under construction. We wanted something that represented for the region but also something that would make people laugh and smile. Working with the great folks at Banter, Grace & Lollipop, we came up with all kinds of fun names... but Woody Nelson worked on so many levels and it was a lot of fun to say.
This is when the team started to grow, with additions to commercial and finance. Between the licensing, financing, and construction, we knew we had a long road ahead of us. To keep ourselves busy while we waited, we tried to grow some hemp. When that didn’t work, we turned our attention to the quality assurance side of things and brokered a whole bunch of high-CBD hemp to big LPs. Eventually, we launched LoFi, a brand that now includes some of BC’s best-selling CBD products.
Funding the project was a challenge throughout the build. A big part of that was the change in policies brought about by the pandemic and lenders being less interested in taking a chance on cannabis companies. As a result, nearly all the investors in Woody Nelson are our founders, family, and friends. Despite all our challenges and bumps along the way, they were always there for us and for that we couldn’t be more grateful.
Including the revenue being generated by LoFi, this was just enough to get Woody Nelson off the ground and our first crops to market. In less than a year, we went from a team of less than 10 to a team of nearly 30. The challenges were endless, but we were relentless problem solvers and against all odds, we actually pulled it off.
Woody Nelson received it’s Health Canada cultivation license in the summer of 2022 and launched its first products in March of 2023. While we have great pride in the spaceship of a facility we built, we couldn’t be more grateful for the team behind it. Their willingness to show up, to sacrifice, and their ability to find creative solutions to complex problems set the tone for how we approached every challenge. There was also a culture of empathy, with a shared philosophy of “we’re all doing our best, and we’ll keep finding ways to do better.”
It was here, in this ultimate mix of pressure and support, that many of us nerds and weirdos found a home. Folks who didn’t quite fit in elsewhere were finding room to be themselves. Around here, everyone’s a genius in their own way. It’s about helping people discover what that brilliance is and giving them an opportunity to shine. If genetics represent a plant’s potential, it’s the environment that determines how that potential is expressed.
If we had a nickel for every pivot we had to make, we’d have a pile of nickels. Yet the core vision of the company never wavered: A high-tech weed company in the heart of cannabis country staffed with legendary talent growing the dopest dope we’ve ever smoked. Having a chance to build something like this with friends, both new and old is the kind of experience that none of us will ever forget.
From here, we set off on a journey of growing the next generation of high-tech cannabis. The first few crops have looked amazing, but we know there’s so much room to improve. As we continue to grow crops and collect data, we’ll have real-world information that we can use to further develop our processes and technologies. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll be able to offer our technologies and recipes to other folks so they can grow space weed too!
But our ambitions don't stop at cannabis. With our focus on agtech, we're also excited about the future of farming. Vertical farms, year-round crops, local food sources, and zero-waste facilities are all on the horizon, and we hope to make a significant contribution to that future.
On behalf of the crew, thank you for flying high with Woody Nelson and we hope to see you again soon.