Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Trial and error and keeping an open mind is the key to success for Aqualitas's head grower, Jake Ward, who was recently named the Top Grower in Canada for 2020 by Grow Opportunity.
Grow Opportunity is a digital portal and magazine covering Canada's cannabis production industry.
"I'm honoured. I've found hundreds of ways how not to grow cannabis, but I've always tried to listen to what everyone has to say, listen to their thoughts and opinions, and take away from those things," Ward told LighthouseNOW.
"You learn a lot by listening and hands on. I always tell people that are starting in this industry that sometimes people get set in their ways of growing. I tell them to keep an open mind."
Myrna Gillis is the chief executive officer for Aqualitas, the medical and recreational cannabis grower based in Brooklyn, Queens County. She commented that Ward's national recognition is well-deserved.
"Jake was the first employee hired when we started back in 2016. His passion for the cannabis plant, collaborative approach with the team, and commitment to innovation, sustainability, and excellence have been driving influences in our success since day one," she said in a press release jointly issued by Aqualitas and Grow Opportunity magazine.
At 43 years old and hailing from Branch LaHave, Ward has more than 26 years of cultivation experience. His background as a seasoned designated grower for medical patients paved the way to a strong beginning for Aqualitas.
He's responsible for the overall management of the Aqualitas cultivation team and production as well as the nutrient management and environmental controls for specific cultivar growth. According to the release, the judging panel gave top scores to Ward, emphasizing his commitment to sustainability and innovation in cannabis cultivation.
However, Ward himself credits a lot of Aqualitas's success to its CEO.
"We moved a lot of mountains over the years ... For her to be a lawyer her whole life and to give that up to start this venture, you knew she was determined," he said. "Her passion is amazing. It's about producing a quality cannabis for our patients. There is no second best – nothing else will do."