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


For some in the nonetheless-forming legal cannabis space, the plant has been a lifelong passion, exactly where a profession pretty much seemed destined for ages, regardless of its legal status. For a lot of other folks, marijuana has come to be portion of their profession alternatives as laws changed. Agnes Kwasniewska falls into the latter regardless of appreciating cannabis and cultivation at significant. Right now, she is an award winning, milestone reaching, cannabis cultivation leader in the Canadian market place. 

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

That would alter in 2016 when the burgeoning cannabis business 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 contemplating if cannabis was for her: “I believed, nicely, ‘Why not? Why wouldn’t I want to be portion of this?’” 

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

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

That mentioned, her gender created considerably 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 created the corporation the 1st in the nation to employ a female Master Grower. 

“I was pretty shocked by it,” the Master Grower remembered. Agnes believed that the business had to have had a female in the function ahead of her. Although accepting she’s the 1st in the legal market place, Agnes nonetheless believes that the illicit market place has observed its share of ladies in the function. 

Agnes Kwasniewska: Breaking The Grass Ceiling

The buzz about her hiring may perhaps have been the 1st time getting lady came into function for Agnes. In preceding interviews, she recalled her gender by no means playing a element in the field. Even so, the news did give the newly minted Master Grower a sense of pride. All through the news cycle, function remained the very same as usual, aside from a slight degree of added stress. “[The milestone] did place a tiny bit a lot more consideration on me,” she mentioned. “But I do not discover it changed the way I worked or the way I went about my day.” 

Although the occasional media consideration didn’t alter her function, Agnes did recognize its value to her profession. “I really feel privileged to be capable to commence in this business as the 1st female [Master Grower]. It is good to have that acknowledgment moving forward, and really feel appreciated for the function that I did.” 

Given that her 2016 hiring, Kwasniewska has accomplished a number of important achievements in the field. For her, getting portion of the HEXO’s scalability has to be a single of the most important 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 good results normally comes discomfort points, Agnes’ case integrated. From remaining compliant to altering public perception, she encountered a number of “growing pains” along the way. Even so, the Master Grower credits remaining agile as a crucial to her sustained good results to date. “I had to keep incredibly versatile and adaptable to alter simply because almost everything was moving so rapid,” she recalled. “Everything was so new that, in some cases, one thing could alter from week to week.”

Remaining agile and adaptable paid off for Agnes. Each HEXO and cannabis neighborhood members took notice, and for considerably 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 function, “Here at HEXO we all know that Agnes is an exceptional function model and grower and has been instrumental in our success…We are very proud to see her excellent function recognized by her peers in the cannabis business.”

The recognition and the gravity of her hiring combine to reveal just how considerably of an influence Kwasniewska tends to make in the space. The award-winner told Higher Occasions, “I’m genuinely content to have the chance to be a function model to people today and…show ladies that they are capable of succeeding in this planet and in this business.”

These hoping to come to be effective cultivators like her may perhaps want to commence by increasing their personal plants at dwelling. Beneath its laws, Canadians can develop up to 4 cannabis plants at dwelling. Kwasniewska believes that providing people today the opportunity to develop is the sensible alternative and agrees with the regulation. “I assume it is excellent for people today to see how the plant behaves, how it works…I assume it is a essential encounter and a enjoyable gardening activity.”

In a number of American states, like New York, dwelling increasing is sticky, legally speaking. So considerably so that cannabis providers have urged state lawmakers to ban dwelling cultivation. 

“I do not see what the problem is,” mentioned the Master Grower of the matter. In addition to benefitting dwelling growers with a hands-on cultivation encounter, Agnes pointed out that specialist cultivation know-how is expected to build plants on the level of a licensed producer. As such, tiny to no dwelling growers could rival licensed items. 

“I’m not genuinely worried about somebody possessing a couple of cannabis plants in their backyard.” She added, “I imply, not absolutely everyone out there has a green thumb either.”

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

Although specifics on new items have been sparse, a single point was clear: Agnes Kwasniewska is in her zone. The cultivation specialist continues to thrive in a space she by no means anticipated to be in just a couple of shorts years ago. Regardless of gender, her story represents a single of a particular person who has stayed agile and kept studying. 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 business. “Keep an eye out for new genetics. It is coming,” she mentioned with a cheerful chuckle.


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