Written by Zach Sarkis of HempLabNY

2020 was an unprecedented year for us all, but that did not hold back a group of WNY cannabis advocates, educators and entrepreneurs from launching a cannabis event platform that is already making a big impact in the NYS cannabis community & beyond.2020 was an unprecedented year for us all, but that did not hold back a group of WNY cannabis advocates, educators and entrepreneurs from launching a cannabis event platform that is already making a big impact in the NYS cannabis community & beyond.

Rochester based FLWR CITY Collective & Roc NORML partnered with Buffalo’s premier Hemp dispensary Sativa Remedy to host the 2020 FLWR CITY Harvest Cup – a statewide hemp flower competition, raising awareness about the importance of hemp flower for both NYS farmers and consumers. The event also helped raise funds for community reinvestment.

The 2020 Harvest Cup featured over 50 flower submissions from 25 farms across the state, ranging from Buffalo to Long Island.  Each farm sent 56 grams (2 oz) of CBD / CBG dominant hemp to compete (chemotype 3 & chemotype 4 for all you scientists out there). In total, over 3,000 grams of hemp flower was submitted for the competition. 
To ensure a fair contest, submissions were de-identified, so that judges were blinded as to what samples they were rating. At intake, all flower submissions were stripped of their identity (name, certificate of analysis, etc.) and assigned a random number. Once a sample received its new tag, the intake grading process began.

From more than 50 initial submissions the “Top 20” were chosen and this was not an easy task. The Top 20 submissions were then broken down into one thousand 1-gram samples and shipped to over 50 judges across the state!  

There were two categories of competition, The People’s Choice Award & the Harvest Cup Champion.  
Of the 50 judges, 40 folks from the pubic registered to grade the flowers and decide who the People’s Choice would be!  The Harvest Cup Champions were Determined by 12 industry judges, all cannabis industry experts from across the state.

Judges

The judges were sent kits composed of twenty, 1-gram samples, a dry herb vaporizer from our event sponsor DynaVap, a torch, papers, grinders & more. The kit also came with the standard “notice to law enforcement” & a grading sheet equipped with a QR code linked to the online grading system.  

Submissions were graded on Five primary attributes: smell, cure, taste, feel and resin of the flower, downplaying the “value” of COA’s for this competition – because it’s all about the terps anyway, right? 

The Harvest Cup FinalsThe Harvest Cup Finals were hosted by Zach Sarkis of FLWR CITY & NY HempLab & Nhi Kha of Sativa Remedy. The event was live-streamed, with over 300 attendees engaging with the event across zoom and social media. The event also involved numerous donations and giveaways. 

The final ceremony began by identifying the farms and varietals responsible for the Top 20 submissions. Then came the “Top 10” reveals which included high definition photos of the flower, cannabinoid content, as well as farm name & location. This was the first time any of the judges learned the names of the samples they had tried.

Harvest Cup Award Winners

Harvest Cup Champ:

Abacus – Grown by Heart Stone Organic Farm
A gassy, purple bud produced on a Certified Organic Farm in the Finger Lakes, using the regenerative production practices of Korean Natural Farming.

Harvest Cup Runner-Up:

BaOx – Grown by NY Hemp Services
An impeccable bud, light green, resinous and a very smooth draw. This bud is TOP SHELF and comes straight out of the heart of the Hudson Valley.

People’s Choice Champ:

Amy’s CBD – Grown by Premium CBD Spot
A blonde, gassy, cheesy AND fruity varietal that made the People go wild! Grown in Batavia NY on a research farm exploring the viability of biochar for hemp production. Very cool stuff.

People’s Choice Runner-Up:

Suver Haze – Grown by Twin Arch Farm
A musky, resinous and beautiful flower. This Suver Haze popped like no other, and trust us we have seen our fair share. Consistent across the board, it’s no surprise how this plant competed!

Everyone was blown away by the quality of NYS hemp (cannabis) flowers. It’s also cool to note that EIGHT of the Top Ten submissions were grown under the sun, roots in the soil. In fact, four of the Top Ten submissions were grown with regenerative practices. This should make us all proud.

As a prize, each winner had one lb of their flower purchased. This flower is now being sold at Sativa Remedy. Proceeds from these sales are being used to raise funds for the 2021 Cup!

Filling the Cups of Others

The 2020 Harvest Cup raised $6,000 for community reinvestment, distributed between three community-based organizations empowering vulnerable community members throughout Buffalo & Rochester NY. Learn more about this year’s community organizations partners; Roc food Relief, Flower City Noire Collective & Mass Ave Project.

Now it is time to fill the cup again. Join FLWR CITY in meeting their 2021 community fund-raising goal of $20,000, as they “Fill the Cup” through events, profit sharing & donations. Stay Tuned at @flwr.city / @flwr.city.cup / @sativaremedy / @rocnorml

It is clear that NYS can and will continue to grow world class cannabis. Let’s continue to celebrate the plant, tell the stories of NYS cultivators and raise funds to rebuild our communities.