Alaina Austin of Green Fire Genetics, a third-gen cultivator & breeder putting a new twist on genetics. Many cannabis cultivators with decades, or even one decade, of experience might raise an eyebrow at a 20-year-old breeder. After all, what could someone so young really know?
But 22 year-old Alaina Austin has shattered perceptions of youth, making a name for herself, gaining the respect of other well-respected cultivators, and single-handedly running a medical cannabis business – Green Fire Genetics – in the heart of Lake County, Calif.
A third-generation cannabis farmer, Austin began cultivating her skills at a young(er) age. When she was 14, she took care of a 12-light grow. “That’s when I was working with my father under his wing,” she says. Today, four years into her role as founder and sole-proprietor of Green Fire Genetics, she says she uses a lot of her father’s methods, but puts “a new-school twist on it.”
In fact, that’s part of her mission: to mix the old with the new. “I feel extremely lucky to have some of the old-school landrace stuff that my father has given me, the amazing genetics my friends have blessed me with … to bring out everything I’m about to bring out,” she says, referring to a launch for new genetics she has been prepping for four years.
That leads to the other part of her mission: “to bring genetics that people have never seen to the masses,” she says. “I have a lot of CBD things I’m bringing out, with flavor. A lot of people think it’s just CBD you need for cancer. But honestly, you need a CBD-to-THC ratio, so I’m doing a lot of that for my genetic launch, and sharing what I’ve been holding onto for the last four years.”
In the meantime, she has built stable relationships with several of the most well-known medical cannabis dispensaries and worked by herself on her 360-acre plot of land. Her actual grow space is “five parcels – each one is on at least an acre,” she says, plus a sizeable hoop house and an indoor grow that spans about 2,500 square feet (the size of a large, three-car garage – the former use of the space).
While working alone “in the middle of nowhere,” as she describes it, could be daunting to many, Austin seems to be cut out for it. “It takes a certain type of person, and it breaks you down if you’re not accustomed to that lifestyle. It takes a strong-willed mind and a strong-willed person. You have to be able to be alone. You have to be able to be your own boss, to get up in the morning and tell yourself what to do, because nobody else is going to do it.”
What drives her is a love for the plant and a passion for helping people. “Cannabis has taught me patience; it’s taught me so much. I have so much gratitude toward the plant for that,” she says. “It’s helped not just me, but my family. I’ve lost a lot of family members to cancer, and it’s been heart-wrenching. It’s medicine. It really is. I’ve seen it firsthand.”