Vermont's Got a New Organics Business
By: Henry Homeyer
Vermont has long been a haven for back-to-the-earth “hippies.” Starting in the sixties, long-haired, freethinking men and women found the culture of Vermont alluring: the locals didn’t much mind what you did, so long as you drove on the right side of the road and paid your taxes. Long hair? Smoke a little weed? No problem.
Now weed is legal, with certain restrictions. Instead of growing marijuana in the middle of a corn field, home gardeners are growing cannabis under LED lights and looking for fertilizer that will help boost their yield. Enter Paul Sachs and Slava Frimerman, and their company, Cold War Organics.
For more than thirty years, Sachs has been making fertilizers for organic growers. He learned how to create fertilizers using natural ingredients to include all the minerals needed by plants, not just the “Big Three” – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. His fertilizers naturally include magnesium, calcium, iron, copper, zinc, and boron from sources such as seaweed, cottonseed meal, ground peanut hulls, and minerals like rock phosphate and green sand. Sachs created the gold standard of fertilizers. One of his notable products is Pro-Gro, produced by his company North Country Organics in Bradford, Vermont.
Sachs extensive experience means he knows how flowers, lawns, and vegetables grow, and what their needs are. He has researched everything from plant tissue analysis at different phases of growth to soils and plant nutrition. He’s now applying the knowledge that has helped gardeners grow the healthiest lettuce or sunflowers to devising the best food for Vermont’s latest homegrown crop, offering a brand new set of mixtures through his new enterprise.
Frimerman brings media savvy to their joint venture. By trade a graphic designer, he manages the promotion, advertising, and social media connections. Many marijuana growers are young people who are, like Frimerman, often on their digital devices and linked to the World Wide Web.
Why is their company called Cold War Organics? They thought it would be funny. Frimerman grew up in what was once part of the USSR, Sachs here in the States. They spoof Ronald Reagan on their website, where, to gain access, you have to click on a page that repeats Reagan’s famous line to Gorbachev: Tear Down This Wall.
Many others are trying to cash in on the rush to support legal cultivation. Sachs believes his company is different. Newcomers often lack his knowledge of plants and of how to build a business around natural fertilizer options. Growing your own marijuana allows for control over what inputs are used, but other fertilizers for this market often depend on chemicals. Many offer a dizzying list of “necessary ingredients,” while Cold War Organics has just four.
Sachs says all you really need is one pound of his Bud Bread to grow the six plants Vermonters are allowed to keep at a time. Those plants can each produce one to two pounds of flower buds. In the bad old days on the black market, a pound of good dope might retail for over $3,000. Doing that math, $24.95 for a pound of specialized fertilizer seems cheap
Bud Bread is a 5.4-2.8-8.4 fertilizer, with calcium and magnesium. It is ground so finely that it can be dissolved or suspended in water for application. According to Sachs, the fertilizer content matches the ratio of each ingredient found in the plant tissue, and the ratio stays the same throughout the plant’s life. One must just vary the dose through development and flowering phases. For gardeners who want even more finesse, Cold War offers 3 other products: TranscenPlantal Meditation, which reduces transplant shock; Coming of Age, for the transition from bud to flowering stage; and Angel’s Touch, for a boost to plant performance through stimulating the growth of beneficial soil and leaf surface organisms.
There are pictures of Sachs and Frimerman—Sachs as a boy in his Cub Scout uniform, Frimerman with his cap gun in his hand—on the Cold War Organics website (www.coldwarorganics.com). They’ve come a long way since then, but they’re still having fun.
Cold War Organics sells its products online, including through Amazon, and offers a 20% discount by using Promo Code ORGANIC420. They anticipate expanding wholesale distribution as the company grows.