Talking Breeding, Harvesting, and Washing on the Farm with TerpWizard
TerpWizard has managed to create his own wizarding world of weed, found on a regenerative-focused farm tucked under the towering woods of Michigan. As a legendary seed breeder, grower, and hash maker, the TerpWizard name has quickly transcended the Midwest — his exclusive genetics and flavor-forward jars, recognized by that heady little wizard on the label, have made their way into top-shelf smoke stashes nationwide.
For the latest installment in the Hashtek Hash Maker’s Q&A Series, I sat down with TerpWizard for an exclusive look into how he makes the magic happen. We chatted all things hash, from his first flags back in the Colorado medical days to “lasagna tech” in his outdoor hugelbeds on the farm in Michigan – where he grows everything for hash from seed – to how he keeps cutting-edge terps on the menu, runs the Hashtek A-Series in his unique cold room set up, and more. Let’s get into it…
Finding Hash & The Perfect Property in Michigan
How did you get into smoking hash, and how did that translate into making hash yourself?
I moved out of my parent’s house to go to college in Boulder, Colorado. At the time, it was medical out there. It was more like the BHO days still, but being in Boulder, there was a couple of really nice spots to get hash from. I don’t remember having too many options for rosin though, but I wasn’t even looking for that at the time. Being a broke college kid, we were buying more BHO, and then on occasion when we had some money, we’d go into the city to AllGreens for some melt, and we’d flag it out. That was kind of my first experience with it, then also getting some stuff from Trichome Heavy Extracts, Nikka T’s company at the time. That was really where I discovered hash on the solventless side and started to think, “Oh shit…I’m smoking a lot of this. Why don’t I gear my garden towards it?” With the person who I was working with at the time, it just wasn’t in the cards for us to do that.
Fast forward a couple of years, and I moved out of Colorado to go back to the Midwest. I wanted to be closer to my family and still live in a state where I could do what I loved and was passionate about. So once I moved to Michigan, I started gearing my garden towards hash production, because I didn’t have anyone I was working with at the time and that’s what I was mainly consuming, so it made sense. Like, why not, instead of going to the shops out here to buy it?
Once you started making hash, how did the “TerpWizard” name come to be?
I started TerpWizard when I got to Michigan. I wanted to do something fun, and I’ve been into wizardy stuff for most of my life. I think it started with Harry Potter. I used to read the books when I was a kid going to bed, so I’ve got a lot of nice memories with that series. I wanted to take those magic ways and turn it into somewhat of a ganja name with the “terp” side.
Speaking of Michigan, you have a property where you pop seeds, grow indoors, grow outdoors, wash and press your hash…you’ve got a lot going on over there! What’s been happening lately and what’s your future vision for the farm?
I was trying to go to the METRC side of the market and had a fallout with my partner. So I was going to either try to get funding from some of my family members and family friends and try to go back into the METRC side of things myself and just do it big. I had a moment where it’s like, do I really want to get back into this? I’ve kind of got a bad taste in my mouth about the whole rec side, unfortunately. Or, think about the bigger picture and see where I’d want to be after getting into the rec side. Like, what would retirement look like for me? I thought about that really hard for a couple of months.
I thought ultimately, I’d love to have a homestead and be more self-sufficient and grow at home, make my own seeds, have an indoor and outdoor. Try to be hands-on with every aspect of the plant and not get too big, to where I start just becoming a computer person and typing shit in. You know, not being as connected. So instead of taking the route of going big and taking loans and having to pay all that back and getting further away from where I ultimately wanted to be in life, I decided to skip all that. I decided to get a mortgage for my house and get a property that I felt was good and try to get DEM certified, which happened earlier this year. The goal was to try to live the latter half of my life earlier on, and just try to be 100% involved with everything and not get to a size where I felt like that was not manageable.
As far as what we’ve got going on at the farm now, We grow in soil indoors and outdoors. I try to replicate as much as I can indoors with the way I grow outdoors. We run teas like from Dragonfly Earth Medicine. I do compost extracts, teas and KNF maintenance sprays. We have worms in our pots, there’s life in there, and we’re growing under LEDs.
The main way we grow outdoors is hugelkultur — three of the four ganja areas we grow in are hugelkultur beds, and one of them is amended native soil. I just wanted to see what that would be like, so we did basically the same layering method you would do on a hugelbed, just didn’t add thick pieces of log. We put some sticks down and some mulch, then did the “lasagna tech” for lack of a better term, and made our layers.
We keep bees out by the seed patch and grow vegetables. We have been doing ferments not just for our plants, but also for us. Making hot sauce, sauerkraut, vinegar and all kinds of fun stuff. We’re just trying to build a plot that produces high-quality medicine. Not only smoke, but food-wise too. We’re trying to grow in a regenerative way that speaks to us and resonates with the way we want to see food grown. And when I say we, I’m talking about my partner Laceey, who’s really involved with the veggies and the chickens and the homestead side of things.
Growing from Seed & Hunting Terps on the Farm
How do you keep your menu fresh while catering to a lot of different terp profiles and flavor preferences?
When I first started on this farm, I didn’t take on any clones and popped everything from seed. We continue to do that, not only to be able to find new genetics, but also to have lots of variety and be competitive with what we’re bringing to the table. Absolutely everything I’m growing at the moment is from seeds. The only time I’m taking clones is for the breeding season. I think that’s pretty unique. It gives me a menu that no one else in my state has. They could be running the same genetics, but they don’t have my cut. In the Michigan market, and in many other states and provinces, there are certain cuts that float around. You might see some of those genetics on our menu, but they’re from seed. So although we might have Rainbow Belts (and that’s something we’re going to have available on the menu very soon) it’s not exactly like the Belts you might be used to having from your local source. Growing from seed gives us a competitive advantage.
Between having a really wild menu -all from seed- as well as how I’m not running full trays of things, it gives us small amounts with lots of variety. It’s been really great for us, and people have been really receptive to what we’ve been doing. We’re just trying to keep pushing our menu and keep offering more things. We’re trying to make new genetics as well that are unique and good for outdoors with resin production in mind, fun flavors that can work out here in Michigan with some higher pressure environmental factors our growing season brings with it. I’m excited to see what we’re doing next year with the hugelbeds, and we’re trying to expand more outdoors, as well as trying to do multiple male seed projects outdoors because we only pollinate plants outdoors.
Does growing exclusively from seed for hash ever create challenges in your washing cycles?
Growing from seed, there’s always gonna be plants that don’t wash, and occasionally we’ll take a risk. TerpWizard isn’t just a name, we really try to live this. In some sense, it’s about the terps first. Obviously, I need to keep some stuff around in order to keep everything afloat – to be profitable and be able to pay my guys and whatnot. But, you know, we care about the flavors here, and that’s just another reason we’re hunting from seed. You get such unique expressions.
What flavor profiles are you hunting for right now?
I really respect Brandon of KushKirk, so now I’m trying to chase what he’s been looking for these days. I’ve been talking to him lately and the breeders he’s been working with and trying to chase some of that. The Sour is high on our list and we’ve popped a lot of that lately. I’m looking for a Sour Diesel male from TopDawg Genetics to use as a pollen donor next year. We’re also trying to hunt some more cheese, so I’ve got a couple of things for cheese I’m going to be looking through very shortly. We’re gonna hunt for some gas too, even though there’s a lot of it out here.
So gas, earth, cheese, and sour are kind of what we’re trying to get to in 2023. We’re hoping to have a menu where we’re hitting all the major points – floral, citrus, fruity, gas, and earthy – then have some flavors that hit the subcategories of that. Then you can hit something for everyone in the market.
Making Magic With Hashtek Machinery
With “terp” in your name, it’s obvious that having a unique flavor profile in your end product is really important to you. How has using the Hashtek machine allowed you to do this while staying competitive?
With larger batches for outdoor, it’s been a godsend to have something be able to wash twice what we do by hand. We will still hand wash side by side with the vessel, but now instead of having to do it all by hand, we can have half the load done by the Hashtek, and it still performs the same way we would do for rosin. We’ve now become twice as productive overall but are still able to wash a smaller batch by hand or let the machine take over if we have a garden-heavy day, then come in and collect and basically just have a worker there the whole time and knock it out for us. I know I can dial it in and feel comfortable that I will come back to the quality product that I’m expecting. With the gentle top-down agitation it’s not going to beat the crap out of the sensitive trichome heads.
The Hashtek 50a was great this year – it is nice to introduce automation into our process to be able to keep up and still be able to tend to the garden. Now we don’t have to lose a day because I need to go harvest plants or just have an intensive day in the garden.
How is your cold room set up?
The space we moved into had multiple barns on the property, one used to be a woodshop, and the space where my lab is used to be a gym. Those two were built out better than the third with some decent floors, a heater, and an AC unit. We sectioned off the other bay of the barn, which was a garage, and put in some upgraded AC units, got some coolbots, and then found this plastic wall material that was insulated so it’s really nice to wipe down and pretty easy to set up a room. We have our cold room, and then right outside is where we press and collect the material, and have some freezers and freeze dryers. The freeze dryers put off a fair amount of heat, and having those in your cold room isn’t necessarily ideal because you’re kind of fighting to keep it cold if you have that running during the dry cycle. It puts out a fair amount of heat between the pump and the unit trying to keep things chilled during the drying cycle.
We still have a couple of upgrades we want to make. I’m not too happy with the way the floor was set up here. I’m probably going to seal it a different way and eventually extend the waterline to the cold room, but this spot compared to the last is a lot nicer. We have a TV in here hooked up to the Firestick so we can watch stuff while we wash. In our last spot, I was mixing in a garage, and during the warm months, we were in a 4×8 grow tent with three grown men, tables, and wash equipment. It was pretty cramped and hard to keep the tent down, so I’m feeling like this is a serious upgrade for us compared to where we were before.
You use the Hashtek A-series, a very modular and user-configurable device. How was the setup process in your cold room?
Super, super easy. My buddy from Maine got one as well, Adam from Mission Hill Melts. I didn’t know that until it showed up and I saw it on his Instagram. I was like “Awe man, cool. He can give me the rundown!” He was able to run some stuff before me, dial it in, and give me some cheat codes.
Any of those “cheat codes” you could share with us?
Well, I’d say the one that we’ve learned the most lately is to make sure your valve is fully closed when you decide to fill it because during the cleaning process, we leave it open and we’ve managed to douse our shoes at least several times. I literally did it today I had to change shoes in between runs. That’s been a fun one. Thankfully, there’s no hash in that water, it’s just regular clean water. But I would say that’s probably the number one lesson we’ve learned.
My second tip would be to break up the ice before you start your wash cycle if you’re seeing things clumping together. Usually, after our soaking period, I’ll take the paddle and break up the ice a little bit so that the first run is a little bit looser and not as stiff. It will eventually loosen up on the second wash once it has time to sit for a minute, but I just like to get it broken up from the beginning so that it moves easier.
Talking Terps With TerpWizard
Whatcha got in your personal smoke stash right now?
You caught me at a really good time coming back from Ego Clash. I got to see all my buddies from The Hashish Inn Patreon group. A few of us have been chatting for years and developed this weird, not in-person friendship, so getting to meet up with a lot of those guys was awesome. We did a lot of exchanging terps for terps and terps for seeds.
So at the moment, I’m smoking on some stuff from my buddy Justin, Symbiosis Solventless out of Maine, and we have some Red Pop and Fruity Pebble OG. The Red Pop is killer, it is dead on with the name and so good. It’s not like the candied strawberries I’m used to smelling, it’s different. The Fruity Pebble OG has been killer too. I’ve never had it before, and he brought me out seeds that he and his buddy made with that female and then hit it with a Crème De Grapaya, which is a strain that I made last year with Papaya and Grape Cream Cake F2. After we hang up, I’m actually gonna go upstairs and put those in soil.
Another buddy brought me part of his Ego Clash entry, so we’re smoking on some Drago from Solventless Refinery out of Arizona, which is GMO x Forbidden Fruit. Most of the GMO hybrids are just all GMO, but this one is a really nice blend where you can get the GMO a little bit on the taste, but on the smell, it is way more Forbidden Fruit. It is awesome, I’m not used to that being the case.
What about your own personal genetics? What are you excited about right now that’s coming up or that you’ve put out recently?
I grabbed a couple of cuts from Skunktek, his Sour Diesel and the Choka Cola. I hit both of them, but I didn’t get a ton of seeds from the Sour Diesel. So we’re keeping all those seeds, and those won’t hit the market, other than maybe like an F2 or further projects in the future if we’re hitting it with another male or something like that. But the Choka Cola made a bunch of seeds, and we’re releasing those, that cross is called Blueberry Kombucha. I’m trying to stick with names that align with the kind of foods and farming practices we use, but also try to have fun with it. Like I’ve got a GMO hybrid this year called Fermented Watermelon, which was a recipe I made this year. It was actually terrible, it’s like the worst fermentation ever, it sort of tastes like a dumpster melon, I would not recommend anyone making that, but it did give me a great name idea.
Okay, so we talked about some of the terps you got while attending Ego Clash recently, and you’ll be at Coffee and Donuts with Adam in Denver in February. What do you love about these kinds of events, and what excites you about the hash community right now?
I’m always excited about new genetics. I’m a seed junkie for sure. I think we came home with like, six or seven hundred seeds from this trip. Between the DEM family and just trading seeds at Ego Clash, we came back with a haul.
I also love giving them out! Any person I look up to in this scene, I’m going to give them seeds, and hopefully, they’ll grow them. And you know, a lot of the guys did, which was super flattering for them to take a chance on me. For example, I crossed Koffee F5 bred by Kaya of PNW Roots with the Grape Cream Cake F2 I’ve been using lately to create what I called Dalgona. Like the whipped coffee recipe people were making during the pandemic. Laceey and I drank so much of that stuff. That Grape Cream Cake F2 has a pretty dominant grape profile, so a couple of people had found that like, rich, earthy, chocolatey coffee type of vibe, but then some folks found a nice hybrid of it, in between that coffee and chocolate but with some more grape in it. So it was fun to see all that stuff come back to me at competitions.
At This Smoking Jacket, Chris of The Real Cannabis Chris walked by and just handed me a gram of his fresh press Dalgona, and I was like, “Oh my god, this is so good. Like, I can’t believe you actually grew this.” It’s so incredible to see people making space in their garden for my genetics. He’s such a master at what he does. I just couldn’t believe he actually took a moment and took space and time to try a new person’s seeds that he had never met or had very little interaction with. I think that’s what really exciting about the hash community right now. ????♂️
Photos courtesy of TerpWizard.
Interview and article by Katherine Wolf. Katherine is a cannabis writer, branding specialist, and the Chief Marketing & Operations Officer of Malek’s Premium Cannabis, a small-batch Colorado cultivator focused on flavor-first genetics.