By: Leona Kusa
Leona Kusa is the founder of Kusa Collective, a woman-owned, family-run legacy brand based in New York. Running the cultural gambit from Brooklyn to Montauk, Kusa Collective sets the framework to end prohibition. A Long Island native and canna-mom, Leona devotes herself to sharing plant medicine education with others. We are pleased to bring you her adventures and observations from every aspect of the East Coast cannabis industry's supply chain.
[Kusa] took a trip out to the East End of Long Island to meet and chat with the Homegrow LI family.
Forerunners of the home-grown movement, their mission is to ensure the Long Island community has access to high-quality organic flower right at home – fresher and cleaner than anything you’ll find in a dispensary (and a fraction of the cost!).
After mastering the art of picturesque and delectable flower, Homegrow LI has created a network and educational space containing a series of self-written articles guiding first-time novices to well-seasoned experts through the entire process of seed to finished cured product.
That said, Homegrow LI has an operation out of my best fantasy fever dream.
I arrive and am greeted by the ever-stunning Mrs. Homegrow just finishing watering her beautiful outdoor seaside garden surrounded by their well-fed leashed cats. It felt like a real-life depiction of Snow White.
Mr. Homegrow handles the indoor plants. The organization, cleanliness, knowledge, and overall experience is unmatched to anything I’ve seen in my decade of cannabis. It’s clear to me why the bud Homegrow produces is meticulously hand trimmed, deep coated with trichomes, with damn near perfect structure - truly my opinion of what is boutique and craft cannabis.
[LEONA KUSA] What made you start growing your own cannabis?
[HOMEGROW LI] I started growing back in 2010 when I became tired of paying $60 an eighth of shitty weed. After doing extensive research, which included scouring Borders Book & Music for cannabis growing materials and hiding in corners to read them like I was some sort of clandestine criminal, I decided I was committed to the cause. From there I wound up on the growing forums and absorbed every single article and YouTube video tutorial that was available on the internet.
I began with a micro-grow that I built into a cabinet dresser and absurdly decided it would be a perpetual harvest setup complete with clones and mother plants. I was itching to use all of the knowledge I had picked up even if my growing space was less than practical. My first harvest was one ounce of fluffy boof that I grew with CFL bulbs. And it was amazing.
I notice you both have figured out how to grow beautiful plants outdoors and indoors successfully, why do you choose to grow your cannabis indoors? Have you ever tried growing outdoors?
My indoor growing obsession was initially fueled by the need to hide my passion due to arcane, absurd laws, and it has honestly stuck with me to this day as a result of the stigmas still associated with growing this plant. The lack of privacy and sufficient outdoor space in the suburbs keeps me inside even though I would absolutely love to grow outdoors.
And to be completely transparent, even though it may not be as environmentally friendly, I am completely obsessed with grow lights, setting up ventilation systems, and having complete control over creating a perfectly dialed-in environment. I've played around with putting some plants outside but usually wind up giving them to friends when I inevitably neglect them in favor of their indoor brethren.
Without giving away any secrets, what would you say is your claim to fame? Why do you think all your strains burst & slap with scent out of the jar?
There are generally two camps in the cannabis growing world: organic growers and synthetic nutrient growers. I have friends who do both very well and I respect the hell out of all of them.
With that said, I've always been a fully organic grower and am kind of a nerd about fertilizer. I spend money on single-input dry amendments the way that some women spend money on shoes. I never have enough. I geek out on alfalfa, crab meal, earthworm castings, neem meal, fish bone meal, kelp, compost…
My point is that I think there's definitely something to creating a thriving microbiome where beneficial fungi and bacteria break down organic matter into plant-usable elements that really helps plant terpenes shine.
When do you think cannabis is best served for consumption?
If you're asking about when it's best served after harvest, I generally think a two-week hang dry followed by at least a two-week cure is where the magic happens. I love fresh weed. Some people swear by leaving cannabis in a jar for 6 months to cure but to me it's best served fresh within a few months of the harvest date. Of course, it's still perfectly fine and lovely to use after that point–and I'm probably a bit spoiled with my seemingly infinite supply of weed–but I'm all about the fresh stuff.
Do you think it’s important for craft and small cannabis to be represented in a legal market? Why?
Generally speaking, yes. I really feel like small batch craft cannabis is the pinnacle of what cannabis should be. In fact, I feel like it's where agriculture as a whole should be. Our current dystopian society fed by centralized EVERYTHING is a major contributing factor to many of the ills of society in my opinion. We could be a society of many micro-communities growing food, raising livestock, and working with each other to satisfy the needs and desires of all communities, but instead, we have whatever the hell you call what we have.
I may be getting sidetracked here. Sorry (LOL). In my ideal version of a true free and fair market, there would ONLY be small craft growers. There's no reason we should have large multi-state corporations moving into every newly emerging market in the country and vulturizing all of the potential economic benefits for the many talented people that already live in those areas.
And there's no reason that any one grower needs to be producing hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds of cannabis when we could all get a share of the pie by creating an equitable market with room for everyone who is truly passionate about this plant to thrive and meet all of their needs.
Notes from the Kusa Connoisseur:
Strain: Super Lemon Haze
Genetics: Lemon Skunk X Super Silver Haze
Cultivated by: Homegrow LI
Bred by: Greenhouse Seed Co.
This one has us speechless, seriously. Burnt lemons engulf the nostrils upon initial whiff as a sweet skunk nostalgia takes hold. Meticulously hand trimmed, a heavy coating of deep purple trichomes encapsulate this boutique cannabis. The taste is a wonderful combination of musky haze & lemon pepper with an alluring incense aftertaste. The onset of effects was immediate as an energetic wave of emotion tingles the brain. With beach season upon us, this mood elevating & socially appealing haze is the perfect choice to start one's day along the scenic boardwalk.
Strain: Cherry Garcia
Genetics: Black Cherry Soda X Cherry Maduro X Mandarin Sunset
Cultivated by: Homegrow LI
Bred by: Ethos Genetics
This delicately grown flower is bursting with an array of fruity/citrus scents out of the jar. The structure is damn near perfect with plump, dark green & glistening purple buds. The smoke is filled with a surprisingly earthy flavor that lends itself to a balanced combination of cherry dank soda on the backend. The effects are memorable, first felt through the body and making its way up to the head, sparking deep thoughts and a delightfully pleasant mood lift.
Strain: Terp Daddy
Genetics: Mac Daddy X Slurricane #7
Cultivated by: Homegrow LI
Bred by: In House Genetics
True to its name, terp daddy reeks of a divine blend of sugared berries and herbal spices. Medium to large sized nugs sparkle like diamonds as the hefty punch of sweet flavors upon initial inhale give way to a silky-smooth smoking experience. Be sure to get comfy as a wave of calmness slowly unwinds over the entire body. It was noted that this strain was particularly helpful in relieving migraines & muscle soreness.