Why Legacy & Small Family Cannabis Farms Matter
We’ve been giving tours of pot farms in California’s famed Emerald Triangle for both visitors to San Francisco and locals since 2018, introducing everyone – from seasoned cannasseurs, cronisseurs & ganjiers to those that are simply the culturally or canna curious – to California’s famous cannabis growing region, and the family farmers who live and work there.
When people hear about The Emerald Triangle, they often think of it as the place in California that has the ideal terroir – that perfect combination of climate and soil – for growing truly magnificent cannabis. Northern California’s Mediterranean climate and volcanic soil definitely create ideal conditions for growing magnificent crops from the vineyards of Northern California’s wine country, to the cannabis farms of the three counties, (Mendocino County, Humboldt County, and Trinity County) that make up the Emerald Triangle, to the vegetable gardens outside the Michelin starred French Laundry in the Napa Valley, but there’s much more to the story of the Emerald Triangle’s phenomenal cannabis than just the terroir of Northern California.
The thing that truly sets the Emerald Triangle apart as a legendary cannabis growing region is the multigenerational braintrust that lives there. For generations now, ever since the back to the land movement of the 1970s, farmers have been learning more and more about this plant, and passing this knowledge on to their children, and they to theirs in turn. The weed farmers in Northern California grew up on cannabis farms, and have been initiated in the wisdom of growing weed from before they could even walk. Growing weed is in their blood. I’ve had friends tell me stories about being a toddler growing up on the family farm, and playing under pounds of drying cannabis plants hanging in the barn. I’ve told the story before of the harvest party we attended at Emerald City Genetics up in Mendo, where all the farmers were sharing their latest harvest. Marty Clein of Martyjuana Farms was there. Jerry Munn and Marni of First Cut Farms were there, among many others. There were probably around 20 different Mendo growers in attendance. Jesse Roberts, aka Sticky of Sticky Fields broke out his latest, and we passed the pipe around. Everyone – even the other accomplished farmers – were very impressed with his amazing weed, letting out a heartfelt, “WOW!” when the flavorful smoke went right to our heads. Jesse’s response said all you need to know about the Emerald Triangle, “Yeah, yeah. My grandmomma grew better weed than me.”
There’s an old saying that when the elderly die, a library containing volumes of knowledge and wisdom is lost. The same holds true for these multigenerational family legacy farms and the other small scale family farms that have worked with and learned from them.
When California passed adult-use cannabis in 2018, we put a 2 year moratorium on outsiders coming into our state’s cannabis industry to give California’s legacy growers & small family farms a head start into California’s legal cannabis market. The law, as it was written, also created several levels of middlemen in California’s new legal cannabis market. Not only did cannabis farmers need to purchase a license to grow weed, but if they wanted to trim their weed that would require purchasing a different license. To wholesale your flower to a retailer required yet another license, and to retail weed to the public, yet another one, creating a large financial barrier to vertical integration for legacy and other traditional family farms.
In 2020, right on schedule, large corporate farms sprouted up in California. These large, well funded corporations were not only able to vertically integrate, but they were also able to fund massive grows in California’s central valley – traditionally dedicated to growing food – growing mass quantities of weed, and flooding the California cannabis market, driving prices down dramatically.
As of this writing, you can have an ounce of weed delivered to your door in Oakland, retail, for $69 plus tax. Once you take that retail $69 up the chain of middlemen back to the farmer, there’s just not enough money left for mom & pop cannabis farms to survive, and they’ve been going under at an alarming rate. While they’re struggling to make ends meet, these large corporations can afford to undercut the market as long as it takes to run the legacy cannabis farms out of business, and own the California cannabis market entirely.
As the legacy and small family farms disappear, so do generations of knowledge about this plant whose benefits we’re just beginning to really understand. Unfortunately, most cannabis consumers will never know the difference between mediocre corporate weed and the top quality craft cannabis that they’ve been perfecting in the Emerald Triangle for generations.
Many guests on our cannabis farm tours to the Emerald Triangle say they feel like they’re smoking weed for the very first time. When you try the excellent cannabis grown on these farms for the first time, you immediately are aware of the difference in the flavors and effects of cannabis raised right. Many of these farms go above and beyond Califrnia’s quality standards, attaining more stringent third party certifications, like Sun + Earth Certification and others. If you want these farms, their amazing pot, and their knowledge to survive, you need to support Californai’s legacy & small family farms.
So what can you do?
- Ask your local dispensary to carry weed from legacy growers from the Emerald triangle.
- Seek out organizations that represent legacy farms like The Mendocino Producers Guild and the Hessel Grange.
- Go on weed tours in the Emerald Triangle to visit small farms, and dispensaries that carry legacy growers, like Kure Wellness Center in Ukiah, and MendoCann Dispensary in Hopland – two dispensaries that we often visit on our tours.
- Ask for your favorite small farm brands by name every time you visit a dispensary, and tell them they should carry legacy growers.
- Buy farm direct when you can. Several farms have the requisite licensing to sell directly to consumers on their farms.
- Share their phenomenal weed with your friends so they know the difference, too!
Together we can help to keep these quality farms in business, improve the overall quality of cannabis in the market, and assure that these generations of cannabis knowledge are not lost.