The farm on Quennell Lake used to grow potatoes but it was sold earlier this year. It was only when a barbed wire fence and security cameras went up around it that area residents began to get concerned.
“Shock, absolute shock,” said Laurie Judson Quesnel.
“It looked to us like a minimum-security facility with the barbed wire and our thought was what’s so valuable that needs this kind of protection?” said Donna Laing who lives next to the farm.
They now know a company called Crofton Craft plans to grow over 10,0000 auto-flowering cannabis ruderalis plants.
One crop a year will be processed on-site.
The Agricultural Land Commission permits cannabis to be grown on any ALR land.
The company is in the process of setting up the outdoor farm with fences and cameras that are required by Health Canada before getting a Health Canada license to start growing.
But for those who live around the farm, it’s all happening way too fast and with no consultation.
“We’re always very concerned about the pollution end of it because this is the only farm on the lake that is allowed to take water in and pump the fields out and in the past, there’s been lots of chemicals and fertilizers pumped into the lake,” said Linda Baxter who has lived on the lake for over 30 years.
Laurie Judson Quesnel is a riding instructor and lives right across from the farm and says she’s worried about an increase in crime.
“Yeah, that’s a huge, huge, concern. There are tons of children around here,” she said.
But the company disagrees.
“This is a secure facility,” said Crofton Craft Managing Director Richard Dowker. “It’s not going to attract people. It’s not an easy target for someone to come and say I’m going to go there and make some money. They’re going to see it and say I’m not going to go there because I’ll be caught.”
Odours coming from the farm is also a big concern for residents.
“We’ve done lots of reading and anyone close to a cannabis operation complains about a very skunk-like, sewer-like smell that just hangs in there in the hot summer days,” said John Laing.
“Outdoors is an agricultural process and agricultural processes, everything from dairy farms to other things which are more odorous, are just a part of the process.”