As cannabis policy evolves and the roles that people hope to play in the new market become evident, we approach an important distinction: All cannabis farmers may be growers, but not all cannabis growers are necessarily farmers.
At first glance, it seems an odd distinction to make. The character known as the “Pot Grower” was born out of federal cannabis prohibition as a way to convince the public that cultivating cannabis was completely different from cultivating tomatoes.
The cannabis farmer’s goal is not only to produce a plant but also to do so in the context of the relationship between that production and respect for the land, elements and native species and soils. While prohibition has, by necessity, led to many innovative approaches to indoor growing, nothing can replace the authentic native soils and terroir unique to California agriculture, nor can anything replace the multigenerational craft cannabis farmer.
In the broader scope of agriculture as industry, the public has recognized the dangers of farming that does not respect the land. Climate change itself can be partly traced to environmental atrocities committed by factory farming. In this context, the small, craft, sungrown cannabis farmer may serve as a model not only for the cannabis industry but also for the return to smaller farms built to improve the land, not detract from it.
Cannabis farmers in northern California have a wealth of knowledge in traditional and sustainable farming practices. It’s not an accident that cannabis farming has thrived in the exceptional soils, climate and land gradations of California’s Emerald Triangle. Viticulturists have long prized the region’s many microclimates and soil variations as ideal for producing world-class wines.
Cannabis farmed in this region enjoys the same environmental conditions and carries a philosophy of sustainability and land stewardship. Because of prohibition, we aren’t used to considering our choices in terms of how our cannabis is produced. Now we have that choice, we have the opportunity to choose authentic, sungrown cannabis farmed in some of the richest, most fertile soils and microclimates in the world.
In Mendocino and Humboldt counties, sunny, arid, summer days give way to cool evenings, allowing cannabis buds to ripen evenly and slowly. One key aspect of terroir is the individually sculpted landscapes: for example, the steep slopes and rocky soils of the Yorkville Highlands and the deeper, loamy soils of Covelo will produce different cannabinoid and terpene profiles, even within the same strain. The presence of the fog on the coast and drier conditions inland supports the vitality of different types of cannabis cultivars.
The small sungrown cannabis farmers, who have been in hiding for decades, have much to share with the broader agriculture industry. In the coming weeks, we will share more on the sustainable family farming practices and values held by our farmers, such as techniques like planting cannabis with companion fruit and vegetable crops to maximize terpene expression and reduce pests and contaminants. We look forward to sharing the stories of our famers who are true stewards of the land, producing some of the best, holistic, organically-farmed cannabis in the world.