Major cannabis grower, based in Strathroy, boosts women's role in industry

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With women accounting for three-quarters of its leadership team, a Southwestern Ontario cannabis company is on a mission to bring more women into Canada’s pot industry.

Strathroy-based marijuana grower Eve & Co. posted profiles of its female staffers to social media this week leading up to International Women’s Day on Friday.

“One of the things that I’ve always said is that I want to empower women,” Eve & Co.  chief executive Melinda Rombouts said. “That first starts with empowering our team.”

The former operator of a Strathroy flower-growing operation, Rombouts founded Eve and Co., a female-focused cannabis company for the recreational market, and its subsidiary, Natural MedCo., a medical marijuana producer.

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Today, two-thirds of the company’s 63 employees are women, including three-quarters of the management team — an impressive feat in a male-dominated industry with only a handful of companies headed by women.

One of the women highlighted in the daily profiles is Kelsey Jobson, who oversees the company’s partnerships with provinces and handles regulatory affairs, among a wide-ranging list of other responsibilities.

Last year, Jobson was tasked with figuring out how to ship cannabis clones — small marijuana plants grown from the cuttings of a mother plant — to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Jobson did test runs by shipping citronella plants, selected for their similarity to pot plants in structure and hardiness, to Yukon in the dead of winter. She mailed the pot plants in individual shipping containers insulated with bubble wrap and equipped with an LED light to keep them in a vegetative state. The project was a success and Eve and Co. signed a deal with the Maritime province to supply the grow-your-own cannabis market.

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Eve & Co. CEO Melinda Rombouts inside a greenhouse at the licensed producer of cannabis in Strathroy.

“She’s taken so much on,” Rombouts said of Jobson, whose husband also works at Eve & Co. “She’s probably one of the most knowledgeable people in this industry.”

Eve & Co., meanwhile, is positioning itself as one of the largest pot growers among more than 100 licensed producers.

Construction is nearing completion at the company’s greenhouse, located 40 minutes west of London, to expand it to 93,000 square metres, making it one of the 10 largest pot-growing operations in Canada.

Rombouts says she hopes to harvest plants from the new space in the fall, pending the required approvals from Health Canada, the federal agency that oversees cannabis production.

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