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Ontario Cannabis Fieldnotes: What does a cannabis harvest look like at an outdoor organic farm?

A lake-warmed micro-climate is the perfect setting for Greenman Acres — an outdoor, organic cannabis farm located in Meaford, Ont.

map of meaford

Meaford, Ont., is located on the shores of Georgian Bay between Collingwood and Owen Sound and is in the heart of Ontario’s apple country.



Tucked away in Meaford, Ont., is a 100% organic cannabis farm with growing operations set outdoors, taking advantage of natural sunlight, a lake-warmed micro-climate and a diverse natural ecosystem. This is Greenman Acres, and the family team behind the farm is passionate about craft — cultivating resilient strains of chemical-free cannabis in its purest form.  

“We’re not big, and we’re not micro,” says CEO Robert Mantrop. “We’re extra-medium.” For this family-operated Ontario business, “extra-medium” was the sweet spot for delivering a consistently high-quality product.

“Greenman is one of the only wholly organic producers in all of Ontario,” explains Elliot Hill, the farm’s regional sales manager. A total of 13 acres of the 100-acre farm is dedicated to growing cannabis. The plants grow in neat rows on a gently rising, south-facing hill, overlooking the nearby blue of Georgian Bay. Tall trees, grasses and colourful flowering companion plants drive the nature theme home: This is a cannabis farm that’s deeply connected to its ecosystem.

Companion plants are flowering plants that attract beneficial insects to help cannabis thrive.

What does harvest look like at the farm?

robert mantrop trims plants

As autumn comes around, rows of cannabis plants — some up to seven feet tall — hang heavy and lush with scented cannabis flowers. The farm buzzes with excitement too, as the team shifts into harvest mode, which typically takes place between late September and early October each year.

For northern growers, timing the fall harvest ahead of colder weather is crucial. The plants are started indoors in early spring and transferred to the fields in June to assure a full 20 weeks of maturity. The ultimate timing of the harvest, however, is up to nature.

“The plants tell us when they’re ready,” Mantrop explains. “We can’t push the plants. We’re looking at the bud structure and the development, but with a microscope camera.” When the trichomes — tiny crystalline-like structures that produce desirable cannabis compounds — are perfectly developed, it’s time to make the harvest call. Then, it’s all hands on deck.

This stage of production is all about teamwork. Getting ripe harvest from the field to processing is the job of the Harvest Captain. The heavy plants are cut manually and gently hefted onto a harvest trailer. Then comes sorting and leaf removal. Every flower in the harvest is carefully hand-trimmed before drying and curing. Up to 15 part-time workers join 10 full-time staff members for the harvest-time race against the clock.

How Greenman Acres came to be

greenman acres landscaoe

Greenman Acres is a 100% family-owned farm created through several family members’ business experience, systems savvy, marketing talent and legacy cannabis knowledge. The farm’s genesis was as natural as the products it would soon be growing. In 2019, family discussions were focused on the opportunities presented by legalization. “We looked around the table,” says Mantrop, “and realized we had all the skill sets in-house!” The business name came naturally too. Greenman is a combination of the two founding families’ names: Haygreen and Mantrop.

Once the decision was made, the family sprang into action.

They found a farm in a perfect location: A 100-acre property, featuring a lake-warmed micro-climate and a sun-catching southern exposure complimented by rich clay soil. They knew that this farm’s southern Georgian Bay site offered the valuable advantage of an additional three to four weeks of frost-free growing time. They also knew they had a lot to learn about producing sun-grown organic cannabis.

“Back in 2019, when our family was committing to a cannabis farm in Canada, everyone knew they wanted to grow a natural organic product,” says Mantrop. The question was, how?

“We started at the end of the first giant wave of stock market investment in cannabis,” Mantrop tells us. “Back then, all the emphasis was on annual yields and THC. With most firms growing indoors year-round, there was no playbook for quality-focused outdoor growing.”

Becoming an organic cannabis farm

cannabis bud ready for harvest

The founders set out on a research mission, studying organic outdoor cannabis farms in Oregon, Washington and California. Back in Georgian Bay, the team combined their know-how on sustainable irrigation and drainage systems with new ideas about working with nature. Thanks to help from University of Guelph researchers, they pioneered biological pest controls and planted grasses and complementary companion plants.

Sustainability and holistic farming are key priorities at the farm. “Sunlight is a truly sustainable resource,” says Mantrop. “And our plants respond vigorously.” Trimmings are composted, the soil is fertilized naturally and a closed-loop irrigation pond recycles water. Weeds are suppressed with inert weed barrier. Greenman uses only 100% organic inputs, which means no synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers.

Will consumers notice the passionate care that goes into Greenman Acres cannabis? Mantrop believes it’s inevitable. Sun, wind, rain and a richly diverse ecosystem leave a deep imprint on the flowers with beautiful scents and delicious terpene profiles. It’s a sustainable and affordable connoisseur experience more and more cannabis lovers are ready to discover.

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