Picking Up What NorCal Timber Industry Left Behind
There is so much blame pointed at cannabis farmers, but we couldn’t have taken up our work in the hills of Northwestern California if not for the fallout from the timber regime. When the big companies stripped our forests as they saw regulation coming, the vast boom left our region with legacy affects that continue to this day.
The hippies came afterward, buying cheap land that had been denigrated and left with serious issues requiring cleanup. This was the undercurrent to our reality for the last decades that came to a head when the Water Board started talking about requiring landowners to clean up the liabilities they had assumed when they purchased cheap land on riparian zones.
Cannabis farmers on private lands did not move into pristine wildernesses; they purchased second-growth parcels with vast management issues; sedimentation from logging roads, second-growth forests in desperate need of thinning, soil with lowered organic matter content and water-holding ability. We have taken it upon ourselves to rebuild these parcels as farmers and American Patriots.
People who don’t know anything about cannabis assume that it’s easy because “criminals do it.” As a farmer of many crops, I can say with objectivity that we spend exponentially more time, effort and energy to farm cannabis than we do ANY OTHER CROP. Read more about how “easy” growing cannabis is here.
My point is that there is a very unique and legitimate skill set that is required to produce clean, connoisseur cannabis. The next step in the process is curing, which is an art-form unto itself that requires the gentle maintenance of natural climates. Learn how the curing process works and how moisture must be controlled throughout the process.
A system of Integrated Pest Management that utilizes crop rotations, cover cropping, intercropping and maintains/stewards wild spaces on the farm will produce plants that will require less intensive management for diseases. From an industry perspective, this will mean less pesticide and chemical use as we encourage farmers into good practice through a system that creates incentives to provide quality, transparent medicine to consumers who are willing to pay to know the story of where their cannabis is grown.
Fulfilling the Unkept Promise of Reaganomics
Cannabis enables us to steward our land, tend our community and reap the genuine benefits that come when a rising tide actuates the lifting of ALL boats. Reagan had it backwards; consolidating power and money in the hands of the few by cutting their taxes was bullshit from the beginning when viewed from an unbiased lens.
It’s a poor economic argument advanced by those with an obvious, naked interest in a specific outcome that they pushed forward using their superior economic capabilities. “Wealth makes more wealth” or “It takes money to make money” are the standards of capitalism that have allowed big business interests to lobby, short circuiting the democratic process in insidious and disturbing ways (see KQED “Sponsored Bills in CA”).
As a farmer of dozens of vegetable, herbal and medicinal crops, I stand as bedrock support for my community. We are working to dispel decades of fear and build a communicative system of good practice that honors the gifts we have been given.
Cannabis has been the portal back to farming for an entire segment of my generation. It was the fulcrum crop that provided enough of a cushion for us to make our mistakes, learn from them and build our skills. Cannabis gave us the chance to innovate because we were not confined by regulatory systems that put onerous burdens on farmers.
All Small Crop Farmers Face Onerous Regulation
Joel Salatin wrote a book called “Everything I want to do is Illegal”; this was a formative text for me. I read it as I prepared for two months in the Mendocino County Jail. Joel’s fundamental argument is that innovation on any farm is constrained by onerous permitting and that government agents have too much arbitrary power to affect the lives of farmers. He is right.
I walk an ironic line in which I recognize the futility of asking for regulation from a broken system that doesn’t give me, as a rural farmer, the option to construct my infrastructure in manners that I see fit for the situation. If I need a permit to try out a new idea, I’m unlikely to innovate and try out very many things. Further, permitted infrastructure is permanent; if your operation changes in five years, you’re wedded to the expensive thing that you went through an extensive process to create.
If a farm business is successful (or if it’s not), your needs today are unlikely to be the same needs you have in five years. Flexibility is the essence of what farms require in their ability to operate. The larger the scale, the more difficult it is to maintain flexible policies and capacities for operation. Small, diversified farms are more productive on an acre-by-acre basis because they can engage in stacking of enterprises that yield more bounty from the same space.
We are homesteaders, survivors of the original American Dream. Many come here; few stay because it is a grueling life. Farming will knock you down and kick the shit out of you, make no bones about it. If you can’t get back up again and again, you better not get in the fight. No glass jaws here.