North Quabbin family starting cannabis cultivation business, first-of-its-kind incubator program

  • From left, Tory Kaltner, Zach Peele, Pat Kaltner and Lori Kaltner started Morning Dew Cultivars in Orange. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • AP File Photo/Marina Riker AP File Photo/Marina Riker

Staff Writer
Published: 7/8/2022 1:31:07 PM
Modified: 7/8/2022 1:31:02 PM

ORANGE — Four family members have started a cannabis cultivation enterprise and plan to introduce a first-of-its-kind incubator program providing free online learning and in-person technical training to aspiring cultivators in the Pioneer Valley.

Morning Dew Cultivars launched less than a month ago, the culmination of two years of brainstorming and planning by Tory Kaltner, her husband Zach Peele, and her father and stepmother, Pat and Lori Kaltner. The micro-business consists of a 7,500-square-foot grow facility on Daniel Shays Highway that will sell marijuana wholesale to dispensaries across Massachusetts. Additionally, Dew Work Incubator is expected to be a four-week collaborative professional development program to help participants polish their skill sets to achieve career goals. The family had hoped to start the program in the spring, but had not yet gotten power to the facility.

“We couldn’t cultivate without electricity,” Chief Operating Officer Tory Kaltner said. “We’re really excited. This is dream come true for us.”

She and her family stressed they will not operate a dispensary or storefront of any type.

“We have dispensaries waiting for our products,” commented Pat Kaltner, a Turners Falls native. “We just have to grow it.”

“It was a long, exhausting haul,” Lori Kaltner, who grew up in Athol, said of the application and licensing process. The business has secured all necessary permits and as of Friday was awaiting a final inspection.

Tory Kaltner, who was raised in Orange, said the company’s name is derived from the Bonnie Dobson song “Morning Dew,” notably covered by the Grateful Dead. She also said the trichome — tiny outgrowths or appendages — on the cannabis plant “kind of look like dew drops.”

Pat Kaltner, who also owns Patrick Kaltner Construction, said he is a gardening hobbyist who decided to grow a few cannabis plants after the state legalized them in 2016.

“They’re just cool plants. I love them,” he said, adding that his efforts were wildly successful. “And I thought I could do it on a bigger scale.”

“It took him a while to talk me into it,” Lori Kaltner chimed in. She was inspired to develop access to therapeutic applications after seeing close family members use the plant’s extracts to find relief from chronic ailments.

Peele, who is from Virginia, and Tory Kaltner cut their teeth in the cannabis industry in Colorado, which along with Washington in 2012 was one of the first two states to legalize marijuana. Peele developed prowess in commercial gardening while Tory worked in brand development.

“On paper, we’re the A-Team,” Pat Kaltner said, referring to his construction experience, Lori’s background in finance and real estate, Tory’s work in compliance and marketing, and Peele’s expertise as a grower. “It really is just a perfect team.”

“We complement each other’s strengths,” Tory Kaltner noted.

Cannabis incubator proram

She said the Dew Work Incubator program, which is expected to start in the fall, will be strongly geared toward residents of Greenfield and Amherst — two communities she said were identified by a March 2021 report from the state Cannabis Control Commission as being disproportionately affected by the nation’s war on drugs and cannabis prohibition policies. The curriculum is tailored to serve both beginners and professionals alike, navigating topics including irrigation strategy, plant virus prevention and curing techniques.

Tory Kaltner said some states have conducted online incubator programs, and though Dew Work will have an online aspect she feels Morning Dew is pioneering in-person programs. She compared it to a trade school, not unlike the one an electrician would attend to learn the ins and outs of the trade before entering the workforce.

“We want to give back. We feel really grateful that we are in a position to share what we know about our industry and about growing craft cannabis and we’re just excited to kind of pay it forward,” she said. “We’re passionate about it and want to help others maybe follow that passion, too.”

She said the incubator will be useful for anyone “on the fence” about entering the cannabis industry.

More information on Morning Dew Cultivars is available at morningdewmass.com, if you are 21 or older.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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