I met Matt Davenport, Founder & CEO of Arlo Systems, LLC at the 2018 IndoExpo in Denver. He was introduced to me by Randy Ritchie, founder of Malibu Compost. Knowing how particular Randy is about sourcing and testing for GMO’s and pesticide residuals in their compost, I knew that Matt would fit into what Randy would call “True Organics”. Sure enough, my hunch was proven correct.
Matt’s company, ARLO, based out of Longmont, Colorado, is an acronym for “Advanced Regenerative Living Organic.” They specialize in “beyond organic” hemp farming and offer an array of permaculture based consulting services. Their cultivation systems were initially developed over a five year period at an elevation of 9,000 feet in the San Juan Mountains between Silverton and Durango, Colorado. ARLO services the industrial hemp farming and medical/recreational cannabis industries by introducing permaculture style cultivation systems aimed at producing the safest, most sustainable and cost effective products possible. ARLO specializes in the application of permaculture ethics and principles to cannabis cultivation. Their focus is on organic no-till systems for indoor, greenhouse or full sun applications. They are able to cultivate cannabis without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, commercial potting soil, plant growth regulator (PGR’s) or bovine slaughterhouse by-products (bone meal, blood meal, etc.).
ARLO’s average clients are small to medium farms, personal and commercial growers/farmers. Most of their clients are focused on cultivating licensed industrial hemp or medical/recreational marijuana. They are growers/farmers either looking to perfect their current living soil/organic no-till/permaculture style systems, or conventional farmers looking to transition to regenerative organic cultivation systems. Due to certain legalization issues, they are limited to operating in states or countries that have legalized medical or recreational cannabis and industrial hemp. Other than legal restrictions, their systems are diversified and resilient enough to be operated in a variety of different bioregions, from high altitude, to desert to sea-level.
The vision of ARLO, “to help influence the hemp and marijuana industries in a more socially, ecologically and economically sustainable direction”, ties their 10 years of experience in the application of living soils with several strategic partnerships including Build-A-Soil, Rootwise Soil Dynamics, Malibu Compost, Full Flava Extracts, Rising Moon Seeds, Gene OM Alchemy Seed Co, Sensi Care, and many more. All these companies strive to supply the cleanest ingredients and are very focused on customer education. “We have been doing this by applying the ethics and principles of permaculture design to as many facets of our regenerative enterprise as possible.” Davenport continues, “This means making agreements with ourselves and with our clients that we will generate revenue without losing focus of our responsibilities to nature, our fellow human beings and will always commit to giving back in surplus or abundance.”
For hydroponic growers and people used to growing with synthetic nutrients and playing a chemical balancing act that is in constant flux, going organic can be scary. There are many farmers who even say it is impossible to grow 100% organic. There is certainly a learning curve and converting to an entirely new set of systems and inputs can be daunting. Permaculture has a very holistic view on the entire operation and its surroundings. Because of this, every location will have some variation. Matt shared some growing tips and concepts that help assess some the items that need to be considered:
Matt says there are several people who have influenced him along the way. “Adam Brock was one of my permaculture design instructors and truly taught me the power of ‘invisible structures’; the corners of permaculture often experienced through social and community dynamics, but not often spoken about. He wrote an amazing book called Change Here Now that addresses a lot of these fascinating perspectives. Avery Ellis was another one of my permaculture design instructors-turned-good-friend that truly shed light on how permaculture can be applied to shifting local governmental policy, the backyard garden and more than anyone
has inspired the drive in me to teach more people about permaculture. Another is Sepp Holzer. Sepp is one of my heroes. He’s known as the ‘Rebel Farmer’ in the permaculture community. There’s a story that always struck home. Bill Mollison, the founder of permaculture, showed up on Holzer’s farm in Austria (1000-1500 meters above sea level) in the early 90’s and stated that ‘this was the greatest example of permaculture’ he had ever seen. Holzer turned to Mollison and asked, ‘what’s permaculture?’. Sepp Holzer is proof in the proverbial pudding that by truly observing nature and modeling her ecosystems, one can practice permaculture without knowing its formal definition. He gave me the hope that many crops could be grown at elevation and inspired me to evolve into my own interpretation of permaculture as it applies to my life, gardens and business.”
The hemp industry has been evolving during the past several years. Many of these changes are coming as larger industrial farms have started growing Hemp. Matt says, “We’ve seen the hemp industry continuously move towards monocultures and conventional forms of agriculture.” Many farmers in states like Kentucky have been switching out tobacco crops for hemp crops. However, their approach stills tends toward the conventional methods including large fields of crops and the use of synthetic pesticides to control pests and weeds. “By way of applying agroforestry, alley cropping and cover cropping techniques, we are able to break this cycle.” Matt continues, “On the positive side of things, we’ve seen an incredible surge in consciously cultivated cannabis from coast to coast. Growers are truly beginning to wake up to the fact that they can grow higher quality cannabis for less of an ecological and economic footprint using living systems and permaculture.”
To learn more about ARLO Systems visit ArloSystems.com.
Eric Lancaster is Executive Vice President of TeraGanix, Inc., the exclusive North America distributor of the Original Effective Microorganisms® and EM® Bokashi products. For more information visit TeraGanix.com.