San Manuel was once known for having North America’s largest underground copper mine, but when the mine and smelter shut down, the town of San Manuel struggled.
There is now a new type of mine in the area bringing jobs, economic growth and hope to the area. The Flower Mine is a 100,000-square-foot marijuana cultivation facility producing 31,000 pounds of cannabis flower per year. The grow facility is located near the San Manuel Ray Blair Airport near where the Magma plant, mill and smelter were once located. Ironically, the Magma smelter used to burn tons of confiscated illegal marijuana as a public service for local law enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) back in the 1970s and ‘80s. Today, there are 23 states where recreational cannabis use is legal, including Arizona, and 38 states have legalized cannabis for medical use.
The Flower Mine is a state of the art, innovative cultivation facility. The staff oversees the plant growth from seedling to harvest in a quality-controlled environment. Besides bringing jobs to the area, they have brought water by drilling their own wells which supply 15,000 gallons per day for their plants. Using new technology, they can capture and reuse 75% of the water. They also have the strongest most efficient grow light on the market. High Variety lighting is their own patent. They supply their parent company, The Flower Shop, with cannabis products for wholesale and retail. There are Flower Shop stores in Phoenix, Mesa, Ahwatukee and Ogden & Logan, Utah. There is another grow facility in Utah.
“We wanted to expand our Glendale grow facility,” said Cody Phillips, Chief Cultivation Officer at the Flower Mine, who has worked in the cannabis industry for 20 years and was tasked with finding The Flower Shop’s new grow facility. “We looked in a lot of different areas honestly. We were looking in the Prescott Valley area, anywhere where there was a little bit more of a mild climate, relatively mild, and with my wife’s family being from here, it was just a definite place to come look. Honestly, finding this building was a needle in the haystack. It was super fortuitous. The power station was the biggest deal for us, because what takes the longest is getting a power infrastructure to this place. That substation sat empty, not being used, because the mine was using it, and when the mine shut down, they had no use for it. It was pretty serendipitous, and all fell into place.”
Operations started in May of 2021, with a season of outdoor growing while plans and designs for the indoor building were being completed.
“The ultimate goal was indoor,” said Phillips. “We got brave and attempted an outdoor (grow). We learned a lot about how challenging it can be out here, but in a couple years we went from an empty building to full of plants and full of people.”
The Flower Mine now has nine rooms that are used to flower their cannabis plants, these rooms are filled with state-of-the-art lighting technology and climate controls, each room holds more than 2,000 plants, that are harvested when ready and sent into production, where each nug is properly prepared, assessed for quality, canned, and labeled before being sent off to stores.
The president of the company, Greta Brandt, says she is looking at obtaining more licenses for shops in Arizona and other states. She has been instrumental in educating women cannabis users and marketing to them. The Flower Shop was named Best Dispensary in 2023 by AZ Foothills magazine in their annual Best of Our Valley contest. To learn more about Flower Shop, visit: theflowershopusa.com.
The facility’s name using the word mine paid homage to the mining history of the area. Phillips named the facility. He is the son-in-law of J.D. McCain, well known and long-time employee of Magma Copper. J.D. was the smelter superintendent and Vice-President of Operations. Cody said that he was challenged to create a work force for the facility after being told that he would not be able to hire enough qualified people in the area. There are now 75 local people working for Flower Mine. Cody says they are hiring and looking for more, good local people.
Patrick Corrigan, who serves as the Director of Cultivation, has been in the cannabis industry for 15 years, and moved to Arizona from California in 2023, to take over at the Flower Mine.
“My first thought on the facility was that it is built to perfection, as far as what you would want on demand as a grower. It’s essentially a sports car of a facility,” he said. “Right away, I could tell there was a high level of intelligence here. There are really good people, who are invested and have a passion for the plant, and really care about what they’re doing.”
As the director of cultivation Patrick hopes to set an industry standard for indoor cannabis cultivation and spread his knowledge and passion for the cannabis plant and quality genetics to his fellow growers.
“The only impact we want to have is positive,” Corrigan added, “Through creation of jobs. Through circulation of local wealth, money circulating the local community and staying in the local community, and hopefully that trickle-down can eventually improve the quality of life for all members of the community. One of our main focuses is to serve the community that we’re in, to help build the community that we’re in. We’re not coming at it like we’re a white knight coming to save the day, San Manuel has great people, it’s a beautiful place, and we just want to help enrich that.”
The Flower Mine hopes to cultivate more than just cannabis, but job opportunities to the community. It currently employs around 75 people but hopes to grow its numbers as time progresses.
Becoming part of the community is important to all who work at the Flower Mine. They have partnered with the Mammoth-San Manuel School District and have made donations to them. They are working with the San Manuel Revitalization Coalition and have sponsored events such as the recent chili cookoff. They hope to work more with the community in the future.
(This article was written by John Hernandez and Nathaniel Lopez.)