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Genevieve Newton, Canada’s Top Grower 

December 08, 2023

Eleven years ago, if you told Genevieve Newton she’d be the newly crowned recipient of Canada’s Top Grower Award, she would have said you we’re crazy.

In 2012, Genevieve’s life was very different. Everyone has their flaws, their vices that they latch onto, for Gen it was no different. At that time, Gen struggled with addiction and unhealthy habits. After entering rehab, she successfully navigated the difficult road to recovery and was able to get clean and get her life back on track.

In 2016, Gen got sick. Diagnosed with colitis, Genevieve faced a dilemma when her doctors prescribed heavy medications that seemingly worsened her condition. Genevieve heard that cannabis could be a healthier alternative to relieve some of her symptoms, but her recovery team, including her doctors and psychologists, said they would end their relationship with her if she started using the plant. Gen’s entire support circle was ready to abandon her as she contemplated using cannabis vs the prescribed medications.

Feeling very conflicted about the decision, Gen’s condition was only getting worse. She wasn’t eating. She was losing a lot of weight. Finally, her friend handed her a joint and said “just smoke this”. Despite the warnings she was receiving from doctors, she took the joint in hopes of finding relief.

just smoke this.

It was this choice. This moment, that defined her life moving forward.


Later that same day, Genevieve felt a feeling that most people take for granted, she was hungry again. Not only was she feeling hunger, but she noticed some of her pain went away. It didn’t take away all of her symptoms, but when you’re dealing with chronic pain, even some relief makes the world of difference.

Contrary to what her recovery team had told her, Genevieve did not dive back into her old ways. There was no booze, no hard drugs, and she now had the coping skills to start using cannabis as medicine.

At the time of writing this article, Genevieve is still sober. In 2022, she hit her 10 year mark…and now lives a very different life.

Discovering a New Passion

After realizing the positive impact cannabis could have on her life, Gen dove in. Understanding that the cost of weed could become an issue, Gen began to investigate the idea of growing her own. Starting out doing research through online forums, Gen became enamoured with cultivation. Gen sought guidance not only from her own experiences and reading, but also reached out to her father for valuable advice on learning the basics.

“He was growing weed in his bedroom closet for like 15 years before I even found out” said Newton. “It wasn’t until my 20’s that I could have an open conversation about it with him.”

Drawing on advice from her father, and memories of gardening with her grandfather as a child, Genevieve honed her skills. Diligent journalling and photography kept Gen organized and at the top of her game, and it donned on her that she was getting pretty damn good at growing weed, she realized she was falling in love.

At this point in time, Gen was attempting to strike a balance between her new hobby and maintaining a relationship with her partner. Despite facing resistance, Gen’s obsession grew deeper. Her two plants ended up becoming 5 plants which eventually doubled to 10 plants, she got into making edibles and her house was becoming a processing space dedicated to her new craft. This became a sticking point with her partner and Gen made the decision to leave the relationship to keep pursuing a life in cannabis.

Taking the leap

In 2018, after working for over a decade in social work, Gen decided to retire from the field and enrolled in the Cannabis Production Program at Olds College to help her get a foot in the door with cannabis companies. Even though she was already confident in her knowledge of the plant, Gen was very appreciative of the connections and resources she had during her time in school.

After school, Gen worked at several licensed facilities including, Acreage Farms, Sundial and Candre. Leveraging the exposure she had gained with these LP’s, her name was beginning to come up in the cannabis community more and more until Stewart Farms took notice.

Looking to bring in someone who had the same level of passion for cannabis as they did, Catrina Jackson (COO) and Tanner Stewart (CEO) discovered Gen through her online content. “We need some one like her” said Tanner. “No, we need her” Jackson replied.

No, we need her.

Stewart was able to convince Gen to take a leap and make the cross-country move to the East Coast of Canada to the small town of St. Stephen, New Brunswick to head up their cultivation program.

In her first week as Head Grower & Director of Cultivation for Stewart Farms, Gen was confronted with the challenge of choosing 15 strains for pheno-hunting, an intricate procedure of pinpointing and picking plants with desired traits, Genevieve delved into researching various grape genetics. In her quest to create the distinctive grape flavor she envisioned, she opted for Daily Grape as one of the strains to investigate.

In August 2021, Genevieve sowed 300 seeds from the chosen 15 strains, and an impressive 98% of them successfully made it to flower, signaling the beginning of a thrilling adventure that led to Stewart Farms’ Daily Grape becoming the companies signature strain.

Throughout Genevieve’s 2+ years with Stewart Farms she has experienced the high and lows of running a successful cultivation program in Canada’s legal market. From keeping up with the demand in Canada to managing partnerships locally and internationally, being the Director of Cultivation is not just about growing weed. Throughout all these challenges came some very significant wins, including the coveted “Producer of the Year” award for Stewart Farms at the 2023 Grow Up Awards & Gala. Other notable honors include a 2nd place finish for Best in Grow (Sativa) during the Cannabis NB Cup, and a 3rd place finish for her Daily Grape at Canada’s first ever legal Cannabis Cup in 2022 in Niagara, Ontario. Notably, she was a winner at Hempfest Canada in 2021, where she grew the highest CBD flower, highest THC flower, and earned the 1st place title for Top Female Grower.

Always one to share recognition, Gen acknowledges the crucial role played by her team – Ross Braysford, Jon Mogard, and Matthew Smith – in both Stewart Farms’ success and her own achievements.

Gen’s willingness to share the wins, her humble and laid-back nature, and her dedication to her craft make her not only a great leader, but a deserving recipient of the title of Top Grower in Canada.

Throughout Gen’s recovery, the one thing her support team told her most was the only way to stay sober is by replacing bad habits with good habits. Gen struggled for years to find that one thing she was passionate about…until cannabis cultivation came along.

Reflecting on her journey, Genevieve emphasizes, “Weed saved my life, and then it changed my life. Since I decided to take that step and do what I wanted to do, I’ve been thriving.”

Weed saved my life, and then it changed my life.

About Grow Opportunity and the Award.

Grow Opportunity is a multimedia platform delivering relevant content to the Canadian cannabis industry. The premier resource for the cannabis enterprise, Grow Opportunity is available online and on print, delivered to industry investors, C-level executives, managers and staff at licensed producers across Canada, as well as decision-makers involved in all aspects of cannabis production: cultivation, harvesting, curing, extraction, packaging and marketing.

Published six times a year, each print issue of Grow Opportunity covers news, products, trends and issues that impact cannabis producers, and their partners.

Through the Top Grower Award, Grow Opportunity shines a spotlight on Canada’s most outstanding and innovative cannabis growers. Criteria for the award includes:

-Shows deep understanding and knowledge of quality cannabis cultivation?

-Is committed to the highest standards of cannabis growing practices?

-Demonstrates strong work ethic and has a strong passion for sustainable and responsible production?

-Demonstrates exceptional leadership and innovation?


Grow Opportunity, About,, Dec 07, 2023

Grow Opportunity, Canada’s Top Grower,, Dec 07, 2023