ELGIN COUNTY, ONT. -- Smooth Clover Limited in Elgin County, Ont. has been granted only the third cannabis micro-cultivation licence in Ontario.

Micro-cultivation is a process that allows cannabis production on a smaller scale, focusing on quality rather than quantity.

Master grower for Smooth Clover Ltd., Andy Fleming, recently learned that his application to start a micro-cultivation facility was approved.

“It was quite a process, there were lots of times that we wanted to throw in the towel. We thought, is this going to be worth it? But we stuck it out and we persevered.”

It took Smooth Clover over a year to complete nearly 120 pages of paperwork.

Fleming adds that in order for the government to even entertain their application, they needed to have a fully-built facility that met all the security requirements.

“Lots of fees, and overhead…just to put up a fence was over $10,000 and the container for the drying and curing was another $10,000. And of course, you need to find the property to grow.”

In 2019, only 19 sites were granted micro-cultivation licences, an additional 210 applications are in various stages of evaluation.

Smooth Clover is now leasing land from Debackere Farms in Union, Ont.

One of the differences between a micro-cannabis licence and a licensed producer is the size.

Smooth Clover will only be allowed 200 metres sq. to grow their product, whereas a licensed producer (LP) has unlimited space.

“Think of us as the microbrewery of the cannabis world. We have enough room to plant about 130 outdoor plants - the strains can yield up to two kilograms. We are allowed to have up to 600 kilograms of dried product per year,” Fleming explains.

Co-owner Mason Obrien says Smooth Clover will only be able to grow the cannabis and the only option for selling will be through another processor, or an LP.

“Our goal is to collaborate with a large licensed producer, or a large extraction company to get our product out for sale.”

Growing season will be from spring until the end of early October when they begin to harvest.

In the meantime, Fleming is very excited that what was once a dream is now becoming a reality.

“I love to grow anything – tomatoes, peppers - and I thought, well why can’t I do cannabis? And a few years ago, after it became legal, I became extremely good at it. I just parlayed that dream I suppose into a business idea, and here we are today.”