“We started this epic journey back in the beginning of 2016, which is crazy because a year ago none of this was here.” Audra Cordell gestures at her farm, a plot of land 30 minutes south of Portland that comprises Oregon Girl Gardens. It was her sister-in-law, Robin Cordell, who approached Audra about launching a family-owned cannabis grow. Audra remembers: “She came to me and said, ‘I want to do this business. I want to grow local craft cannabis, incorporating biodynamic, regenerative agriculture. We’ll stand out as a small, women-owned farm.’”
Robin’s background made cannabis cultivation a natural choice. She earned a degree in horticulture from Oregon State University, managed medical marijuana gardens for years, and learned the art of permaculture design. Audra, who trained and worked as a geologist and then a teacher, had always been interested in growing vegetables and cut flowers. Looking for a way to be closer to relatives and spend more time with her child, she embraced the opportunity to launch Oregon Girl Gardens. She and her family now live on the farm, and Robin lives ten minutes away.
“We want to show people it’s okay to use cannabis. We’re changing the paradigm so there’s not the stigma. We hope to be an example of what’s possible…”
Oregon Girl’s priority is to leave the land better than they found it, and their passion is growing cannabis for people who need it. To best serve those who rely on their products, they emphasize stewardship of the earth and of their plants, treating both with the utmost care. They employ regenerative processes, utilize beneficial insects, and are working to cultivate biodiversity. “This is not something you do in a year,” Audra laughs. “We’ve adopted a long-term mindset.” To that end, they’re developing Hugelkultur beds to produce living soil, and plan to grow a variety of plants to prevent cannabis from becoming a monoculture crop.
Sometimes smaller is better, and Oregon Girl is not looking to become huge. They’d prefer to lead the way by paying living wages to their employees, providing a healthy work environment, and giving back to the community. Audra says it best: “We want to show people it’s okay to use cannabis. We’re changing the paradigm so there’s not the stigma. We hope to be an example of what’s possible.”