US (MA): Hydroponic Growing graduates learned with lettuce, seek jobs in cannabis

Ernesto Hernandez Martin graduated Thursday from the Freight Farms Hydroponic Growing apprenticeship program at Holyoke Community College, having learned how to grow lettuce in the controlled environment of two shipping containers. But that’s not all he can grow.

“I’m looking forward to getting a job in the new industries, either in marijuana or in growing vegetables,” Hernandez Martin said while leading a tour of Freight Farms on Race Street in the city’s industrial Flats neighborhood and adjacent to the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute.

Neither college officials or Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse were shy Thursday about linking the hydroponic program with the city’s new marijuana industry and its need for skilled labor. They also said the program has the potential to help feed Holyokers who have trouble affording healthy meals.

"The skills they learn in the (shipping containers) are transferable to the cannabis industry," Morse said.

The college has no plans to grow anything but vegetables. The city, though, has embraced the newly legal cannabis industry.

Just this month, seed-to-sale marijuana company Trulieve Cannabis Corp., formerly Life Essence, bought a 150-year-old mill building at 56 Canal St. for $3.2 million with plans to build a 126,000-square-foot growing, processing, testing and retail operation there.

Source: MassLive (Jim Kinney)

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