In the first episode of “Growing Exposed,” viewers get an inside look at the low-key growing operation that pumps out an impressive amount of product in a variety of strains.
Clandestine Gardens is similar to a mom-and-pop business, owned and operated by brothers Ian and Ezra Kaplan. Even the facility’s staff seems more like family, or at least close friends, than co-workers.
Ian may be a laidback, self-proclaimed hillbilly, but he’s serious about growing. When he decided to open a commercial garden back in 2014, he bought a piece of remote farmland that he worked on previously. Before the building was converted into the Clandestine Gardens growing facility, the property was a mushroom farm.
“[I actually worked here when I was 15] mixing turds for mushrooms,” Ian said. “It was a dirty job.”
The facility is situated on a remote piece of farmland near Bellingham, Washington and consists of 12 rooms in total—two for vegging and 10 for flowering.
The entire operation has a hands-on approach. All of the marijuana plants are watered by hand, even if it means extra work for the crew. All of the buds are trimmed by staff and then hung up to air dry for weeks. Aside from the use of LED and HPS lights, everything is done using traditional methods at Clandestine Gardens. The operation’s growing process is a real craft.
Although the growing procedure is a little labor-intensive, the Clandestine Gardens crew gets equal opportunities to play.
Ian built a custom skate ramp behind the building for employees to enjoy in between daily tasks.
“We grew up out here, we snowboarded a lot, we’re sub-par skaters. We needed a break spot, and this is what we built,” Ian told the Growing Exposed crew, while pointing at the sick undercover area full of mini-ramps and rails.
“It’s awesome during the summer.”
Another aspect that sets Clandestine Gardens apart from its competitors is its unique branding. Every strain grown by the operation is packaged with custom-drawn labels created by Brazilian artist Thiago Bianchini. After seeing some of his artwork on Instagram, Ian decided to reach out to the artist to give his product that extra pop.
Tara Neilsen from Clandestine Gardens said it’s vital to have packaging that makes potential clients pick up their product. The operation was so blown away by Bianchini’s artwork that they’ve commissioned him to be the mastermind behind all of the branding.
“We tell him what strains are coming out … give him a slight description on what kind of high it is, what kind of feeling it invokes,” explained Tara.
“When you get Rainbow Kush, you get a unicorn shitting a rainbow,” Tara laughed.
Although Ian admitted to having some doubts about running the commercial grow-op in the beginning, running the facility his way has definitely paid off.
“We didn’t have any backing when we got started in here. It’s just been out of pocket; fly by the seat sort of gig. I’m glad we made it this far,” he said.
See a tour of the Clandestine Gardens facility on Episode One of “Growing Exposed” exclusively on HIGHTIMES.com.