Pot Pedigree from the Roaring ‘90s
Spend any time with Adam Silvestri, and you’ll discover, rather quickly, that you’re dealing with a multi-talented young man. In an industry oftentimes dominated by the under-40 set, Silvestri, just 33, has achieved a hell of a lot. He’s currently general manager and master grower for Nature’s Medicines of Phoenix, AZ. Impressive as that is, it’s his roots in the industry that tell the larger part of his story.
Silvestri claims his pot pedigree from the top California growers of the roaring ’90s and early 2000s, a time when cannabis was busting loose in the Bear Flag Republic.
Just after high school, Silvestri decided to grow cannabis as a side job. “Growing has always been my passion,” he says. At that time, this 2002 Lake Tahoe graduate became acquainted with some of the largest growers in northern California. “I was very fortunate in time and place.”
“At my first dispensary in San Francisco, the owner had deep ties to the cannabis industry,” Silvestri explains. “The owner operated the first dispensary in the city. Growers were bringing in every strain you could imagine. I learned to smell and identify every genetic possible, and with the help of these masters, we built a commercial grow where I learned from true industry experts.” His education continued. “I was taking care of the plants, monitoring the environmental systems, bud tending, managing inventory, managing staff, basically running the facility.”
The Complexities of Growing Cannabis
Silvestri decided to open up his own hydroponic shop in the Los Angeles metro area, an experience that he says taught him more about the complexities of growing cannabis than any other thing he’s done. In his shop, he immersed himself in learning “every piece of indoor growing hardware and nutrient on the market. I implemented every grow room device possible: lighting controllers, hygrometers, pH meters, in-line fans, carbon and ozone filters.” Silvestri also expanded his skill set into consulting other growers by helping them design and set up their own growing systems.
But California, back in those days, Silvestri explains, was a dangerous place. “There was always the threat of a federal raid.” In fact, Silvestri, as an employee of a cannabis business, endured two such raids, and they weren’t particularly pleasant. “California was lucrative but risky. There really wasn’t a career path for me there so, in 2011, I decided to leave the over-crowded California market and set up in Arizona.” He opened Greenlight Hydroponics in Scottsdale. The year before, Arizona voters had approved Proposition 203, legalizing cannabis for medical purposes. “I didn’t have to fear federal interference. That’s why I like Arizona. The feds have never raided any legal cannabis businesses in Arizona, ever, that I know of.”
Nature’s Medicines in Arizona
“…and that’s the truth. What I like is the positive impacts we have on people. I don’t want to be in this just for profit. What we are doing is medical.”
Wishing to broaden his career yet further, Silvestri attempted to win an Arizona dispensary license, but wasn’t chosen. He shut his hydroponics store down and began growing independently. He focused on greenhouse education and large agricultural solutions for growing cannabis. He perfected nutrient dosing techniques, deepened his knowledge about heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, chiller systems and the proper use of commercial fertilizers. He continued to find strategies to fend off and treat for pests and diseases, such as white flies, fungus gnats, aphids, mites, and powder mildew. “Growing and selling marijuana is not easy by any stretch of the imagination,” Silvestri says. “There’s a lot of practice and error. Even now, I’m still learning.”
In 2014, Silvestri joined Nature’s Medicines as their master cultivator, general manager, projects manager, and facility designer. In just two years, the Phoenix location has expanded from a dispensary to a dispensary with a grow facility as well. Using all that he’d learned, Silvestri overhauled 15,000 square feet, taking the empty shell of a building, and routing and embedding all of the grow systems necessary for a successful indoor grow site. Today, that shop produces 5,000 plants at any given time. But that wasn’t all. The owners of Nature’s Medicines also purchased four acres south of Tucson, in Amado, where they’ve built greenhouses with 150,000 square feet of grow capacity. Silvestri has been assisting staff there in establishing a site that now produces up to 60,000 plants a grow cycle. Nature’s Medicines also operates a dispensary in Fountain Hills.
“I absolutely love what I do,” Silvestri says. “and that’s the truth. What I like is the positive impacts we have on people. I don’t want to be in this just for profit. What we are doing is medical.”
Silvestri cautions cannabis users, however: “This industry is packed full of inexperienced growers, including those who use fungicides, not meant to be consumed, on their grow. Arizona doesn’t monitor the kinds of pesticides and fungicides that growers use. That’s why it’s important to buy from growers with good ethics who care about consumers.
“We want to produce clean, quality medicine at a reasonable price for our customers. I think we do that at Nature’s Medicines.”
Nature’s Medicines’ home office and Phoenix dispensary are located at 2439 West McDowell Road.