California is an agricultural state known for large levels of food production. Within that exists a farming community that embraces progressive farming techniques and small, sustainable operations. Many of these farmers live in Mendocino and Humboldt Counties and many of them produce cannabis. This is well known. What is not as well known is that many of these small, sustainable cannabis farms are powered by entire families, embracing and marrying traditional and progressive farming techniques to ensure the survival of their unique heritage and culture.

Keepers of Knowledge and Tradition

Multigenerational businesses thrive on the transmission of knowledge from one family member to another. Unique practices and methods of adapting to the land are held in the hands and minds of those who tend the farm. The transmission of this knowledge is what creates the culture of the product and the story behind it.

“My father was one of the best soil guys in California. He’d look like a crazy scientist with all these different soil mixes and ratios,” said Daryl Guthridge. “Cyril is one hundred percent like that,” Daryl says of his son Cyril Guthridge, owner of WaterDog Herb Farm. “His plants get the utmost attention and nutrition. It was in my father’s bones, it’s in my bones and it’s in Cyril’s bones.”

If farms are turned over to strangers, if the current owner is ready to retire for example, there is a treasure chest of knowledge and practice that must be rebuilt. This is not the case when a farm is passed down to someone who has lived and breathed the land and its ways their entire life.

Never Starting from Scratch

When Cyril looks out at the farm he and his father have worked together, he sees an opportunity to build upon the sweat and ingenuity created by his father and grandfather. “My father always told me the key to happy plants is happy soil. His father was one of California’s original soil developers and silica experts. This gave my farming life a tremendous advantage. With every year our soil improves, as well as our knowledge and understanding of our plants. It shows in the quality of medicine we grow.”

The farmers in the Flow Kana network believe the land is a living, breathing piece of the family homestead. For many farmers keeping the land in the family with the people that know it best shows a real difference in the practices and products developed and cultivated there.

Applying soil lessons taught by his own father, Daryl Guthridge and son Cyril work the land at WaterDog Herb Farm. Photo credit – Melissa Ryan

Old World Practices, New World Products

When Guy Gray first started farming cannabis in the hills of the Emerald Triangle, the cannabis market was not flush with edibles, concentrates, salves and high CBD products. Indeed, the evolution of the cannabis market over the part twenty years had seen the rise of infused products, unique cannabinoids and cannabinoid profiles and a more sophisticated palette then was allowed during prohibition.

The new wave of farmers taking over for their parents will have to meld the traditional farming practices on which they were raised with the demands of the post-legalization market.

“I never heard the term ‘CBD’ growing up,” says Guy’s daughter Jenn Gray. But as a growing demand for CBD exists in the market, farmers have had to adapt to meet that. “So much has changed,” says Gray. “I have always been around the growing of plants. My mom had a huge vegetable garden and orchard and my dad had a vineyard. At 14, I began trimming. At 15, I started growing, and at 16 my dad let me have one of his old sites up in an oak tree.” Over the years, Gray has seen the effect of prohibition on her family and her farm. “We care for the environment. We lived where we farmed. The main thing we had was respect for the land. With cannabis there is so much more to lose, so it’s easy to get attached.”

Focus on Family and Sustainability

Watching a parent build something from scratch can evoke a sense of responsibility among the children to continue the legacy. Sometimes, they enter the businesses with a profound sense of history, respect and drive to keep traditions alive.

The farmers in the Flow Kana network believe the land is a living, breathing piece of the family homestead. For many farmers, keeping the land in the family with the people that know it best shows a real difference in the practices and products developed and cultivated there.

Flow Kana is proud to have these small multi generational family farms in our network and support the transmission of knowledge about the land and how to best care for her from one generation to the next. This is the California Way.