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Nov 18, 2020

Get to Know Grass Roots: Christine Glacken + Hemp Harvest 101

Harvest season can feel like the holidays at Grass Roots Health. Our Chattanooga location stocks fresh cannabis buds grown by Tennessee farmers and others in the region. Customers can look forward to new and different cultivars in our store.

Many people enjoy smoking cannabis flower for its flavors — it’s a great way to taste the terpenes, or aromatic compounds, of the flower. Smoking or incinerating the plant, with a vaporizer or straight flame with a pipe or preroll, also can provide immediate benefits for pain relief compared to ingesting cannabis through edibles or tinctures.

Harvest season in our region means hemp farmers are cutting down their plants and hanging them to dry, similar to tobacco plants. We talked with Grass Roots Health Area Manager Christine Glacken about grading hemp for quality, what to look for in a bud, and some of her favorite cultivars. 

Q: What does harvest season mean? 

As the outdoor grow season ends, we’re seeing a variety of new cultivars, or varieties, of hemp come into the store. That means more options for smokable flower for customers! Cultivars may be slightly different from year to year because outdoor grows have so many variables compared to plants grown indoors. Sunlight, water, wind, pests, and bugs can all affect outdoor hemp plants. Two farmers in a relatively close area who have the same seeds may have very different final products.

Q. How do you grade hemp flower? 

Whether it’s grown indoors or outdoors, we’re looking for certain qualities in a bud, or the flower portion of the plant. First, we consider if it’s dried properly. Some flowers are overdried and lose a lot of value in the bud. As the flower loses moisture, it loses terpenes, which are precursors to essential oils and have their own therapeutic values. Overdried buds lose weight and don’t smell or taste as good. We give hemp flowers a grade — A through F, for example — and only sell the highest quality buds.

Q. What happens with low-grade buds? 

As a company, we’re working to grow connections with farmers to see plants before they’re cut down. We want to help improve the quality of buds and provide better quality smokable flower for customers.

We aim to provide feedback and education about what we’re looking for — and that process started with educating our team members with the Trichome Institute’s Professional Interpening course. This knowledge enables us to evaluate the physical characteristics of a bud and determine the overall quality of the bud based on its appearance and smell. We can guess what effects it will have, too.

This evaluation of buds, just with our eyes and with a jeweler’s loupe and by smell, enables us to find mold, bud rot, or pests — and all of the negative qualities that lead to a lesser grade for a bud. We’re evaluating a bud’s dryness, the density and color of trichomes, and terpenes. Again, some terpenes are more indicative of sativa, or properties that may be uplifting and motivating, or of indica, or properties that are more sedative and better for pain relief. Smelling tells us a lot about a flower.

Q. What background and experience do you bring to Grass Roots? 

I have my bachelor’s in education, and after college I worked as a teacher and administrator at a preschool, hiring and continuously training teachers, which reflects a lot on my role here at Grass Roots. More than four years ago, I started using CBD to manage pain and reduce the amount of NSAIDs I was taking. I found incredible relief with CBD and I was telling everyone about it. 

I’m personally passionate about what this form of cannabis can do to help people. As area manager, I hire and manage store associates, and we provide continuous education for our staff. I take the lead on customer service and ensure everyone is fully educated on the products we sell, how they work, and how associates can deliver the best customer service possible. I try to live the example of how we want associates and customers to act in our store.

Q. Do you have any other training? 

Yes! I graduated from Oaksterdam University in California — it’s a cannabis college with courses highly relevant to what we’re doing in Tennessee and Georgia with our products and as a business. In addition to the extensive coursework and the passion of the instructors, I loved connecting with other people passionate about cannabis and providing safe, legal access to these products. 

Q. What do you do in your free time? 

This has been a hard year for me — one of my biggest passions is traveling for live music. I love concerts and music and arts festivals, which have all been disrupted because of the pandemic. I like making jewelry and art, and I spend a lot of time with art and music.

Ready to lay eyes on some fresh cannabis flower? Visit our downtown location to smell and see the cultivars we offer or shop online. Our associates are always ready to help you find the right product, whether flower or tinctures — stop by or give us a call

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