High and away in the far and northern reaches of the San Luis Valley, between the Sangre De Cristo and San Juan mountains of Colorado there are 400 acres of ranch land designed and destined to become the world’s largest marijuana cultivation facility. In the words of Thomas Hardy, “Far from the madding crowd”. This pristine parcel is blessed with abundant and pure water drawn from an immense underground aquifer and supplemented by the Rio Grande canal that bifurcates the ranch. With about 300 days of unadulterated sunlight, sans the pollution to the east and thousands of acres of public land abutting it to the west, it all makes for the “perfect storm” to inundate the industry, both state and nationally.
Saguache county is and historically has been an agrarian culture with large hay producing fields to the south, and low in population density – truly a recipe that makes this “neck of the woods” a rarity in today’s world – literally an Eden for the those who long for freedom and cherish their independence, all the while nourished by a Laissez Faire county government that believes in “live and let live”. A Harbinger of a magnate to the future generations that live and express themselves through social media, for the young amongst us that want to partake in something really different than Hardy’s “Madding Crowd”; Berlin O’Butler, the author, founder and visionary shares with us his “dream.” A man with the history and the record to accomplish it all!
Berlin’s dream holds no end, his research and innovation in a fledgling industry begs for: jobs, more tax infrastructure and lower prices for the commodity on a national scale. Anything is possible. With a track record of a 18,000 sq ft North Ridge grow facility within the environs of LA, a 75,000 sq ft hydroponic and greenhouse operation over the pass in Salida, and now a Saguache locale with over 1.2 million sq ft of cultivation he opens our eyes to a new beginning; ergo, “he awakens the sleeping giant”. Saguache, a fully licensed (4 state and 2 county) location has its designs and engineering “on the table” for a “shovel ready” commencement date this summer when all of the financial “stars are aligned.” In a marijuana friendly state like Colorado that is covetous of its tax revenues derived from this legalized industry, the security and protective legislation all but insures against the “slings and arrows” besetting it from other governmental authorities.
From humble beginnings, and having been raised in the Vail valley of Colorado, Berlin was steeped in the “work ethic” of horticulture, design and construction. “I’m good with my hands” he says, “we’re a family of “green thumbs” ensuing from my grandparents’ ranch in northern Wyoming to now this Saguache enterprise in Colorado. He muses – “I’ve grown up with growers, and my people (extended family), simply have a way with plants including the concomitant weed”. In the interim, Berlin moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue a career in acting, which in turn led him to spend a few years working in stage and screen. Being in that venue gave him access to northern California where he met some of his mentors and growers who’ve been a part of his inspiration into the marijuana genre’ of botany; as a result of his kindred acquaintances, Berlin’s design and construction talents were noticed by those “kindred spirits”, who in turn encouraged him to “go bold” in the industry” by establishing a California co-operative – this was the genesis of his entre’ into a commercial co-operative, which entailed seven card- carrying patients as sanctioned by the State of California.
At the onset of this endeavor, and after the application of a diligent “work ethic”, Berlin fomented a testament to his agrarian talents, and produced a commercial grade harvest; the enigma that he then faced was to develop distribution channels for this valuable commodity; he solved that imbroglio, and found his market as a result of further ingenuity. Having developed and designed a high grade cultivation system, using some of the NASA hydroponic technology, Berlin then established, designed and constructed an 18,000 square foot hydroponic facility in LA that produced commercial quantities of his superior product; owing to the vagaries and complexity of California medical marijuana laws on the books at the time, he closed that facility after about a year of operation; but the “fix was in” – he designed a facility that could grow, cultivate and market quality products in commercial quantities.
Fast forward after two years, Berlin heard the siren call of his home state of Colorado, with the passage of its Constitutional Amendment that legalized the industry in that state; always the visionary and intrepid entrepreneur, Berlin found, procured, designed and renovated a large warehouse on 24 acres in Salida, Colorado – again in the high mountains of his homeland and along the Arkansas river, no less; this was his opus
in the trade, and this enterprise was a testament to that, for it became one of the largest cultivation and grow operations in the state. Berlin, not being a corporate type or “suit” with his investors, sold out the majority of his equitable interests in Salida, and looked for “greener pastures” elsewhere, but in the mountains, because of their climes, topography and agrarian politics that are so conducive to the success of this trade.
Fifty miles from the Salida project and over Poncha Pass, is the San Luis Valley, where Berlin has procured the aforementioned 400 acre ranch, and those secured six marijuana licenses for a cultivation facility for both recreational and medical commodities, including the manufacturing marijuana for infused products. With this land the enhanced licensing, the abundance of resources such as pure water, cheap power, pure and unadulterated air, and high elevations with prolific sunlight on a year round basis, this new facility is “shovel ready” for development; what is even more advantageous for a grow facility is that this prospective project is located in an agrarian area where horticulture is the norm.
Berlin has designed a “solarium” grow facility, with the input from the likes of NASA in combination with solar energy that has the potential to cultivate the highest grade of product for not only the Colorado market, but for the nation as a whole, when “those stars are aligned”. Ever the visionary and eccentric, Berlin has planned a town on this acreage to accommodate the needs of his beloved “kindred spirits” – a town of Mongolian Yurts to create the ambiance and mystic of those magical places such as the Gobi desert of Asia, and of course, the San Luis Valley of Colorado. After a full build-out of the project, this very unique and rare enterprise is destined to be the world’s largest cultivation facilities, excluding of course the uncultivated Hindu Kush. If Berlin will build it, then it will sell to the nation!