Olds College teams up with pot producer to offer cannabis courses

This ain’t your dad’s farm.

Olds College on Tuesday announced it’s teaming up with Alberta pot producer Sundial and pharmaceutical company Terra Life Sciences to create a cannabis production program at the rural school.

The class, offered through the college’s continuing education program, consists of four online courses followed by a two-week field study that will see students get hands-on experience at Sundial’s 31,000 sq.-ft. facility just outside Airdrie.

The college is also developing a second continuing education class, to be offered in the fall, focusing on the retail side of the cannabis industry.

Debbie Thompson, a vice-president and chief innovation officer at Olds College, said the school has a long track record of excellence in agriculture, so it’s only natural that it remains on the cutting edge with the booming new industry.

“We have a lot of industry moving into Olds and we’ve worked very diligently to find the best way to work with the industry,” she said.

“Through our conversations with our cannabis education and research industry advisory committee, we determined the best way to support the industry is through providing education.”

The online courses will educate students in horticulture production, crop production and facilities, legislation and documentation around cannabis, and horticulture for cannabis production.

Thompson said it’s unclear at this point what the interest level will be, but educators will have the ability to expand it either through its continuing education program, or alongside the college’s regular horticultural programs, should there be enough demand in the future.

Sundial spokeswoman Claire Buffone-Blair said joining ranks with the agriculturally focused campus is a perfect fit for the company, which will need a knowledgeable workforce as it aims to open the first phase of its eventual 500,000 sq.-ft. facility in Olds later this year.

“I would say it’s a very complex process. It requires a good understanding of not only the plants, but it’s an industry that’s highly regulated so everything has to follow a certain standard operating procedure,” she said.

“Everyone working in this space not only has to understand Cannabis 101, but all the regulations around it.”

Sundial CEO Torsten Kuenzlen said the company has formed a strong relationship with the central Alberta town, about 100 km north of Calgary, and the latest partnership will not only further cement that, but help create a corps of experienced workers who’ll be able to grow alongside the burgeoning industry, expected to grow even more after recreational cannabis is legalized later this year.

“Sundial is committed to the development of a highly skilled cannabis production workforce in Alberta,” he said.

“This partnership with Olds College allows us to support our local community while preparing individuals for employment in the cannabis industry.”

Registration for the new program opened Tuesday, with the first classes expected to begin in July.

slogan@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @ShawnLogan403

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