Long-dormant property in Deerfield may have new pot cultivator

  • The former Pioneer Gardens property in Deerfield, as seen from Mill Village Road, may soon be used by Ember Gardens, a delivery and retail marijuana company from eastern Massachusetts that is searching for a cultivation facility in the western part of the state. STAFF PHOTO/ZACK DELUCA

  • The former Pioneer Gardens property in Deerfield, as seen from Mill Village Road, may soon be used by Ember Gardens, a delivery and retail marijuana company from eastern Massachusetts that is searching for a cultivation facility in the western part of the state. STAFF PHOTO/ZACK DELUCA

Staff Writer
Published: 9/24/2021 5:52:17 PM

DEERFIELD — The property at 198 Mill Village Road may house a marijuana cultivation facility three years after a previous host community agreement was approved. The catch, however, is it will be under the ownership of a different company.

The town entered a host community agreement with Sun Mass Inc. for a marijuana cultivation facility in 2018 and the Planning Board approved both a special permit and site plan review in 2019, but the company found it would be unable to proceed with the project and started seeking buyers for the property, which was previously owned by Pioneer Gardens.

Enter Ember Gardens, a delivery and retail marijuana company from eastern Massachusetts that is searching for a cultivation facility in the western part of the state.

“We were looking across the commonwealth to find the most ideal home in an agricultural sort of setting in a farming community,” said Shane Hyde, Ember Gardens’ CEO. “For us it was a match made in heaven and we moved forward with Sun Mass.”

Ember Gardens will only operate a cultivation facility at 198 Mill Village Road, which will ship its product across the state to its already licensed retail and manufacturing facilities. Hyde emphasized the Deerfield location will be its sole cultivation and extraction facility and that there will be no production on site.

While there were already approved permits and plans for the facility, Ember Gardens will need to restart the entire process to negotiate its own terms. The same permits cannot be reissued because Deerfield’s bylaws have changed in recent years.

Hyde said the company will work with the town to tweak any changes from Sun Mass’ agreement and Ember Gardens is “very flexible.”

“We would still follow, almost to a T, the plans that Sun Mass brought through the various boards and we know that the town worked hard in the previous years,” Hyde said. “We want to make sure we can come in here and finish the swing on what Sun Mass has been working on for the past few years.”

Selectboard Chair Dave Wolfram voiced concerns about the three-year-old host community agreement with Sun Mass and suggested Town Administrator Kayce Warren negotiate with town counsel and Ember Gardens’ attorney.

“This is not an objection to having you coming to town,” Wolfram said. “We just want to make sure we’re on good legal footing with everything so you don’t have any surprises, we don’t have any surprises.”

Deerfield was one of the first towns to legalize marijuana cultivation in the state and has yet to collect a dime from cultivation facilities because no companies have moved into town, despite multiple host community agreements.

“It’s been many, many years since we’ve been working on this,” Selectboard member Trevor McDaniel said. “It’s facility after facility coming online and it drives me crazy that we have not been able to get something done in Deerfield.”

Hyde said Ember Gardens could have the facility running for next year’s growing season if everything stays on schedule. On the state level, the company still needs to obtain its final licenses and pass inspections from the Cannabis Control Commission. At the town level, Ember Gardens must obtain a host community agreement, hold a community outreach meeting, obtain special permits and site plan approvals from several town boards. and coordinate with the police and fire departments.

“For us this would be a keystone facility. This would be our utmost priority in terms of our company,” Hyde said. “No one is more excited than us to finally get the plants in the ground.”

Selectboard member Carolyn Shores Ness told the Greenfield Recorder it’s great that there is some action happening on the 198 Mill Village Road property.

“I’m excited that we’re actually seeing activity,” Shores Ness said after the meeting. “We were obviously excited to begin with when (Sun Mass) first came to town, but not a lot has happened.”

Ember Gardens is the second marijuana cultivator in recent weeks to appear before the Deerfield Selectboard. Two weeks ago, SunnyDayzCannabis’ host community agreement for three marijuana cultivation buildings, a retail dispensary and a third-party testing laboratory across from Tree House Brewing on Routes 5 and 10 was approved by the board, which potentially sets up two cultivators to operate in Deerfield after years of inaction.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.

An earlier version of this story included a photo at an incorrect address.




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