Emerald Fire Farms: Cultivating cannabis and community.

When we think of local businesses, we often imagine mom-and-pop stores, boutique shops lining the main street, and restaurants serving homemade dishes. However, local cannabis dispensaries are redefining what it means to be a family-owned and operated business. 

Emerald Fire Farms epitomizes this shift, becoming a key player in Coleman’s economy. Their dedication to the industry is not just about making a profit, it’s also about building connections and giving back to the community.

Located at 4980 N Dickenson Road near US-10, Emerald Fire easily attracts customers from Central and Northern Michigan thanks to its convenient location.

A warm welcome

Upon arrival, customers are welcomed by staff in the lobby, where they provide identification. The waiting area features monitors displaying live feeds of the plants being grown on-site, offering a sneak peek into the cultivation process.

Emerald Fire prioritizes security and cleanliness in its facility. Cameras are installed in every room to monitor the premises. Visitors are required to wear lab coats to prevent contamination from external pollutants and to maintain a sterile environment for the delicate growing process. Additionally, the facility’s air is recycled to minimize the risk of external pollutants affecting the crops.
Lead cultivator, Levi Henning holds a young cannabis plant.
The team is dedicated to providing quality and accessible products to consumers. The company knows the importance of experienced budtenders in guiding customers and strives to train its team to meet the ever-expanding cannabis market's demands.

“You may be talking to a budtender who worked out in the grow,” says co-founder and president John Siggerud. We’re able to give our employees knowledge that other retail stores can’t.”

Retail and cultivation

The front of the facility houses the retail space, which leads to the cultivation area at the back. This section contains eight grow rooms, including the "Mom Room," where plant clones are harvested. These clones are placed in climate-controlled rooms with precise lighting and feeding schedules.
Levi Henning shows off a new strain created at Emerald Fire
Emerald Fire uses unique technology in its cultivation practices. “We do a lot of different things from a technological standpoint in our grow,” Siggerud explains, "We use ozone in our nutrients and grow plants hydroponically, which gives us an advantage over other growers." 

"Our key to success is also being vertically integrated," he says of their business model, which involves overseeing the entire process from cultivation to sales, ensuring quality and consistency.

Community engagement

Emerald Fire places great importance on community engagement despite being a technology-driven company. According to Siggerud, the company's operations are focused on connecting with its community and customers. “What a better way to do it, you know? To be able to influence people's lives positively.”

Emerald Fire supports various local groups such as the Boy Scouts, Coleman's Library, and baseball and football teams. According to Siggerud, the company spent approximately $60,000 on charitable events last year. They are also one of the biggest supporters of Midland Pit Stop Dog Rescue and are proud of their work with the Wounded Warrior Project.

The facility also hosts events throughout the year. One of their most popular events is the annual 420 Celebration, which is happening on a Saturday this year and is expected to be even bigger than last year's. The event has organized a corn hole tournament, two food trucks, and a band to provide entertainment. Siggerud is excited to showcase what they do and is pulling out all the stops to make sure everyone has a great time.

Inspiration behind Emerald Fire

After Michigan voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 2008, Siggerud, who previously had a long career in auto body repair, ventured into cannabis with a grow in his basement. He turned to marijuana for pain relief following hip surgery and was motivated by the positive effects it had on his brother, who battled non-Hopkins lymphoma.

Emerald Fire firmly believes in the medicinal benefits of cannabis. The dispensary advocates for cannabis as a viable treatment for a range of medical conditions, from cancer-related symptoms to chronic pain and digestive issues. The personal testimonials of recovered patients reinforce this belief, propelling their mission to educate and heal. 

"It may not cure your condition, but it definitely will help treat it," Siggerud says.

Challenges and opportunities

Despite their successes, Siggerud is candid about the challenges, particularly restrictive tax laws. "We have to abide by the 280e tax code, which doesn’t give our businesses any of the normal deductions that other businesses get," he says. "We're paying probably double what a normal business would pay in taxes.”

An example of clones waiting to grow in one of the many rooms. However, potential reforms, such as the reclassification of cannabis on the federal level, could alleviate these issues and significantly boost the industry. 

Looking ahead, Emerald Fire is expanding its operations. "We just opened a processing lab in Seville township, Riverdale, where we are processing our byproduct, what people call biomass, which you turn into distillate," he explains. This expansion includes producing various cannabis-derived products such as vape cartridges, edibles, and chocolates.

Plans are also underway to explore markets in new areas, including West Branch and his home state of Minnesota.

Commitment beyond profit

For Siggerud, Emerald Fire Farms' journey is more about passion and impact than profit. "I don't make the money I used to make in the private sector working for an auto body," he confesses. "I do this because I love it. I do it because it changes people's lives.”

Cannabis plants thriving in one of Emerald Fire's grow rooms.
Benefits for all communities

The Michigan Department of Treasury has distributed over $87 million in funds to 269 local governments as stipulated by the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. This financial boon will benefit 99 cities, 30 villages, 69 townships, and 71 counties.

Each eligible local unit will receive approximately $59,000 for every licensed marijuana retail store and micro-business within their jurisdiction. These funds originate from the Marihuana Regulation Fund, which amassed more than $290.3 million during the state’s 2023 fiscal year thanks to contributions from 737 licensed entities.

The distribution also benefits statewide education and transportation infrastructure, with the School Aid Fund and the Michigan Transportation Fund each receiving $101.6 million. 

If you’re interested in a comprehensive breakdown of how each county benefits from these tax payouts, visit the Michigan Treasury website. 

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Read more articles by Misty Barron.

Misty Barron is a recent graduate of Delta College where she served as Editor-in-Chief for the Delta Collegiate. In her free time, Misty enjoys creative writing and spending time with family. She is also a certified web designer and graphic artist.