Meet Seth Gillim: Senior Manager of Cultivation
This month as part of our Staff Profile Series, we sat down with Seth to discuss his career in agriculture and cannabis. His professional background in horticulture and organic farming dates back almost twenty years, from family farms in Wisconsin to botanical gardens in the Caribbean. From 2012-2018, he was Production and Community Education Coordinator with the Intervale Conservation Nursery where he oversaw the growing of 40,000 native trees each year (like, wow!). A recent graduate of UVM’s Sustainable Innovation MBA program, he is thrilled to be using his growing skills and business acumen to help further CVD’s mission. He lives in Winooski with his wife Kala and two daughters Addie (9) and Evie (6). In his free time, he enjoys biking, swimming, reading and listening to podcasts. He stopped watching Game of Thrones after Season 2…..more on that later.
As per usual with our staff profiles, we asked Seth a few questions about his work and interests……
Prior to joining us at CVD, you worked at one of our favorite places, The Intervale Center in Burlington. For 6 years you were the Production and Community Engagement Coordinator in their Conservation Nursery. What skill set did you bring with you that is critical to managing a successful cannabis cultivation team?
I think the most important skills are team development, holistic problem-solving, and patience. One of the challenges for any manager of a horticultural operation is getting your team on the same page in terms of technique. Plants like consistency and it’s critical that everyone works from the same playbook. It’s also critical that you take the time to understand how all the pieces fit together. One of the best bits of advice I have received was “take time to develop a mind for the whole.” You have to be willing to sit back and watch things, even when they’re not working and really do a deep dive into how to optimize your grow. Both of these tasks take patience.
What drew you to want to seek employment in this industry?
It’s just such an exciting time to be in the cannabis industry. I have my master’s in business from the UVM’s Sustainable Innovation MBA program, where we focused a lot of our learning on businesses that “build the plane while they fly it.” I knew that I wanted to stay in Vermont, stay connected to horticulture, and help build a company. CVD is a perfect fit.
What is under development in your department currently?
There’s a lot going on. One of the current projects I’m really excited about is the further development of our organic practices and procedures. This year, we will do our second all-organic grow outdoors, in soil. I worked on my first organic farm 20 years ago and it’s really where my heart is. All of our IPM work uses only OMRI-listed products, which is a really big piece of the puzzle. We’re working on living soils and supplemental nutrients that will result in a really superior flower. In other areas, we’re building out an expansion that will improve production efficiency and allow us to grow. And we’re starting to flower some new phenos that I think our patients will be really excited about.
Want to share one of two highlights of your experience so far cultivating cannabis at CVD?
No two days are the same. Even under optimal circumstances, cultivation is about constant problem-solving. I’d say the biggest highlights are the moments when the cultivation team is really excited about our mission and engaged around growing the best cannabis possible. I’m really lucky to have such an amazing, passionate team.
What is your favorite strain to work with? Why?
Dancehall. It’s just such a cooperative plant: it clones easy, it’s really pest-resistant, it has an amazing aroma that reminds me of flower gardens and our patients report that it is very helpful in managing inflammation. Really just the perfect cannabis in my opinion.
Any tips for the home grower that is about to move their plants outside?
Yes. If you’re growing in containers really pay attention to your soil. It’s really easy to mess up watering and fertilizing and end up with sub-optimal results. Start with really good media and shift your thinking towards feeding the soil instead of feeding the plant.
Another good tip is to get a small stepladder and try and take a bird’s eye view of your plants. This helps you to understand how the plant is photosynthesizing, which is key to getting really healthy flower production.
Our production team has a pool going on who will sit on the Iron Throne at the end of Season 8…who is your pick?
Ha! I gave up on GOT after the second season when all of the characters I liked were killed off…plus, I’m more of a reader than a TV watcher.