Master Grower Agnes Kwasniewska Talks Gender Gaps, Genetics, House Cultivation


For some in the nonetheless-forming legal cannabis space, the plant has been a lifelong passion, exactly where a profession nearly seemed destined for ages, regardless of its legal status. For a lot of other people, marijuana has turn out to be aspect of their profession alternatives as laws changed. Agnes Kwasniewska falls into the latter regardless of appreciating cannabis and cultivation at massive. Right now, she is an award winning, milestone reaching, cannabis cultivation leader in the Canadian marketplace. 

Though she had a fondness for cannabis, and consumed recreationally, the agricultural skilled had no knowledge expanding it herself. “I knew what I wanted out of my bud, but I in no way grew it,” recalled Kwasniewska, who earned a master of science in entomology from McGill University in 2009. 

That would adjust in 2016 when the burgeoning cannabis sector would converge with her personal blossoming cultivation profession. That year, the Quebec-primarily based customer packaged goods cannabis brand HEXO Corp named Agnes Kwasniewska its Master Grower. She described her believed method when thinking of if cannabis was for her: “I believed, nicely, ‘Why not? Why wouldn’t I want to be aspect of this?’” 

The cultivation pro discussed the chance presented to her. “This was just a excellent in, to be capable to operate with such a special plant and do it legally.”

Her hiring produced headlines for numerous causes. Credentials like Kwasniewska’s represented a welcomed specialist addition to the cannabis neighborhood. That would be correct right now and was even a lot more so the case in 2016. 

That mentioned, her gender produced significantly of the headlines. Unbeknownst to the now-Master Grower, her hiring represented a glass ceiling shattering moment in the Canadian cannabis cultivation space. HEXO’s recruitment of Agnes Kwasniewska produced the organization the initial in the nation to employ a female Master Grower. 

“I was rather shocked by it,” the Master Grower remembered. Agnes believed that the sector had to have had a female in the part prior to her. Though accepting she’s the initial in the legal marketplace, Agnes nonetheless believes that the illicit marketplace has noticed its share of girls in the part. 

Agnes Kwasniewska: Breaking The Grass Ceiling

The buzz about her hiring may perhaps have been the initial time becoming lady came into operate for Agnes. In earlier interviews, she recalled her gender in no way playing a element in the field. Having said that, the news did give the newly minted Master Grower a sense of pride. All through the news cycle, operate remained the exact same as usual, aside from a slight degree of added stress. “[The milestone] did place a small bit a lot more interest on me,” she mentioned. “But I do not uncover it changed the way I worked or the way I went about my day.” 

Though the occasional media interest didn’t alter her operate, Agnes did recognize its significance to her profession. “I really feel privileged to be capable to start off in this sector as the initial female [Master Grower]. It is good to have that acknowledgment moving forward, and really feel appreciated for the operate that I did.” 

Due to the fact her 2016 hiring, Kwasniewska has accomplished numerous considerable achievements in the field. For her, becoming aspect of the HEXO’s scalability has to be 1 of the most considerable moments to date. “When I began, we had only 7,000-square-feet of greenhouse. In the final 3 years, we’ve exploded to 1.three million-square-feet of canopy space,” she explained. 

With excellent achievement generally comes discomfort points, Agnes’ case incorporated. From remaining compliant to altering public perception, she encountered numerous “growing pains” along the way. Having said that, the Master Grower credits remaining agile as a important to her sustained achievement to date. “I had to keep really versatile and adaptable to adjust since almost everything was moving so quickly,” she recalled. “Everything was so new that, occasionally, anything could adjust from week to week.”

Remaining agile and adaptable paid off for Agnes. Each HEXO and cannabis neighborhood members took notice, and for significantly a lot more than her gender. In September of 2019, Agnes was awarded the Master Grower of the Year title at the 2019 Develop Up Awards. 

In a press release announcing the news, HEXO CEO and co-founder, Sebastien St-Louis mentioned of her operate, “Here at HEXO we all know that Agnes is an exceptional part model and grower and has been instrumental in our success…We are really proud to see her excellent operate recognized by her peers in the cannabis sector.”

The recognition and the gravity of her hiring combine to reveal just how significantly of an influence Kwasniewska tends to make in the space. The award-winner told Higher Instances, “I’m actually pleased to have the chance to be a part model to individuals and…show girls that they are capable of succeeding in this globe and in this sector.”

These hoping to turn out to be productive cultivators like her may perhaps want to start off by expanding their personal plants at residence. Beneath its laws, Canadians can develop up to 4 cannabis plants at residence. Kwasniewska believes that providing individuals the possibility to develop is the sensible alternative and agrees with the regulation. “I consider it is excellent for individuals to see how the plant behaves, how it works…I consider it is a crucial knowledge and a entertaining gardening activity.”

In numerous American states, like New York, residence expanding is sticky, legally speaking. So significantly so that cannabis firms have urged state lawmakers to ban residence cultivation. 

“I do not see what the situation is,” mentioned the Master Grower of the matter. In addition to benefitting residence growers with a hands-on cultivation knowledge, Agnes pointed out that specialist cultivation know-how is necessary to build plants on the level of a licensed producer. As such, small to no residence growers could rival licensed goods. 

“I’m not actually worried about somebody obtaining a handful of cannabis plants in their backyard.” She added, “I imply, not every person out there has a green thumb either.”

When it comes to her operate, Agnes and HEXO have numerous plans underway. That consists of the current release of a worth flower brand, Original Stash. The Master Grower is also functioning on new genetics in the greenhouse, although she couldn’t elaborate significantly additional than that. 

Though specifics on new goods had been sparse, 1 factor was clear: Agnes Kwasniewska is in her zone. The cultivation specialist continues to thrive in a space she in no way anticipated to be in just a handful of shorts years ago. Regardless of gender, her story represents 1 of a particular person who has stayed agile and kept understanding. In performing so, she’s combined a passion for cultivation with a plant that when only seemed like a hobby. 

Now, she’s assisting steer the course of the sector. “Keep an eye out for new genetics. It is coming,” she mentioned with a cheerful chuckle.


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