I sat down recently with the farmers behind Nomad’s Landing. Meet Spencer and Dia, the dynamic duo that have been growing cannabis together for over a decade.
I’m always so interested in hearing how our farmers got started… What inspired you to start your own cannabis farm?
Spencer: I was a second generation farmer. Dad used to grow. He grew the same six plants for three years under fluorescent lights. He would flower them out, and then re-veg them, and then flower them out, and re-veg them until one day the lady across the street saw this long haired guy putting a suitcase in the back of his trunk, and called the law. When dad came home there was a card to call the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department when he got back, and they had taken his plants.
Dia: We’ve been growing cannabis since 2003… or 2004. I don’t remember which. We started growing due to a snowboarding injury I got in Tahoe. I had a broken back, but was refusing opiates. We were consuming a lot more [cannabis] than what we could financially afford with me being out of work, so we started growing our own. We decided to move out of the city, and move up to Grass Valley, Nevada City. We had a huge engagement party right about the time, and we were gifted with some seeds from this tall stranger that turned out to be Blueberry [strain]. Those were our first plants, and they were super, super tiny because we were growing all under the trees. We actually had our whole wedding reception around those small, little cannabis plants, and people didn’t notice them amongst all the native flowers that we had in the beds, so that was kind of cool.
I know a big part of your farming ethos is that everything you do is sustainable. What does sustainability mean to you?
Dia: Sustainability for us means that our farm can stand alone. We can cover 90 to 100% of everything our farm needs within itself. That’s super important, so we’re not spending, like we were, thousands and thousands of dollars on inputs, bringing that into our farm. One of the biggest things for me is making our own microbial solution, so we’re not going and buying these microbes off the shelf that only last in your soil two weeks. You’re bringing in inputs from Canada or northern Oregon, and putting that into an environment where they may thrive or they may not.
Spencer: Not that there’s anything wrong with those places.
Dia: No, no, no, no. No, I’m not saying that at all. It’s just it’s not Mendocino. It’s not Laytonville. Specifically it’s not the lake house where we grow. Those are important. If we were to leave our house and go to Rusty Shovel Ranch or go to Happy Day Farms the microbes within this two mile radius would be completely different. Completely different, so you need to grow with where you are. You need to incorporate the microbes, and the natural life that’s already there into the garden to have something that’s totally sustainable.
Spencer: Everything from your inputs, minimizing how much you bring from the outside, utilizing what’s more on hand on site at the farm. Also, that means that’s less out of pocket for the farmer. The price of cannabis has gone down, but labor hasn’t. We have to cut down on the cost for the farm that they have to input on their farms to be able to maintain those higher labor rates, and without effecting yield, without effecting quality. Then another part of sustainability would be leaving the land in a more pristine shape than it was when you found it. Through regenerative farming practices, and through adding micro-life back into the soil, and caring for the land, and not pulling weeds, but adding diversity instead of disinfection, for example. Those are huge principles to us for sustainability.
Could you tell me a little more about regenerative farming practices? I know this is a big part of what makes Nomad’s Landing such an interesting farm.
Dia: Over the last five years we’ve been studying Korean natural farming. The last couple years Spencer’s son has taken the legacy on further, and this is called JADAM Natural Farming. This is all about plant fermentations, and raw amendments being added. We take our cannabis leaves, and we’ll fill up a 55 gallon drums, and then we’ll fill that full of water, and then that sits over the winter, but it’s not just cannabis leaves. It’s star thistle. It’s milk thistle. It’s the wild grasses. It’s bracket fern. It’s using Jerusalem artichokes as a pesticide.
Spencer: All the pesky weeds that everybody finds on their property that they want to get rid of are the weeds that are most mineral rich generally. Weeds, they often show what the soil is lacking because they’re mineral miners, so they bring those minerals up into their plant material, and then when they die they distribute that amongst the surface on the Earth, and then that recreates a new fertilizer for the next generation of plants to come up.
It seems like the work you’re putting into your farm is going to really help the ecology of this mountain for years to come.
Spencer: Years ago there was that principle that was floating around that everything you do you’re doing for seven generations ahead of you. I think one of the major fallbacks that we have in our current society today is that 100 years ago, a family, their goal was to create an environment that multiple generations of that family could survive on that piece of land. Not just survive, but thrive as those future generations succeeded to the next generation. In our current society it is not the case at all, and in most instances you find that people will use up whatever resources are available, and then when those resources are gone, or perhaps those resources just aren’t the ones that those folks are looking for anymore, they get up and leave.
In our opinion, it’s much better to have the land fruiting full of life, and being able to support life, and being able to support animals, and people, and insects in a clean environment. So often are we misplagued with thoughts of media, how it portrays cannabis farms. Not to say that those cannabis farms don’t exist because they do. They do. That’s how they make the news and media, but honestly, a majority of the cannabis communities that we’ve lived in, those are some of the most environmental communities. Some of the most sustaining communities. Some of the most locally bound communities that want to see their own environment thrive, and also keep it pristine without letting it go to down in the city where it’s asphalt and concrete, and they are dependent on outside resources to be able to feed and house all those people on the inside.
And I think that’s what makes being here so very special. You can see the beauty all around. You can see all the love that goes into your farm, and it’s so important for the patients buying your flowers to know that. I’m glad we’re able to share your stories with Flow Kana’s patients.
Dia: Thank you. It’s been a huge blessing to be a part of this community.