We’re back with another addition of the Underground Review… lot’s of things have happened over the last few weeks, but first, we’re not done with Steve Dodge’s article – Left With Nothing – in the views section of last weeks North Coast Journal (see Underground Review – July 22). Mr. Dodge has received harsh criticism and backlash in every Note to Editor section HU could find over the past couple weeks (Note: HU does give props to Steve for having the courage to contribute, he has started a conversation Humboldt must begin). This article has become a prime example of a serious divide that exists in Northern California’s cannabis farming community. In the article Mr. Dodge breaks down how legalization will leave Northern California’s cannabis farmers earning roughly $40k a year, which Mr. Dodge feels is too low. As HU pointed out, Mr. Dodge (only) accounted for a one-crop yield per year in order to come up with his $40k figure. This figure is off because technologies such as light-deprivation and supplemental-lighting allow cannabis farmers to pull off three runs (crops) a year (in most regions of California). But this wasn’t the only error in Steve’s math, as was outlined in letter after letter in the Mailbox section of the NCJ.
Not only was Steve’s math off but his article lays bare the dissonance that exists in some cannabis farmers. First of all, $40k a year is on par with Humboldt County’s median yearly income of $41,426 – this figure provided by (lock your doors) the Census Bureau. It’s definitely shy of the $61,094: the median income of California’s entire population. We all definitely support closing the income gap and most of the criticism is not with Steve’s desire to make a living. Ours’ and others’ gripes are with the disconnect between Steve and the agriculture/small business community in general. A quick glance at the Internet shows the median yearly income of family farmers in the U.S. at roughly $80k (2003) with some small farmers netting $16k. We guess that most people feel that family farmers deserve to make close to $80k. Nevertheless, looking at this from a farmers perspective reveals the flaw in Steve’s logic – and the divide between some cannabis farmers and farmers in general. If a farmer can make $40k a year from 2,300 square feet of land (every four months as HU has demonstrated), then that’s a happy farmer because he or she can use the extra time and/or space to grow, raise, or produce a number of other products/services.
For example in the April edition of Emerald Magazine, Emily Hobelmann Reviews two strains from one of the first cannabis farms to brand themselves in California: Happy Day Farms of Northern Mendo (they have a website too! happydayfarmscsa.com). So, does Happy Day Farms mono-crop cannabis flowers? No! No way! This farm, as Emily so eloquently puts it, “is a small family farm … producing high quality, small-batch medicinal ‘Craft Cannabis,’” – and wait – this is in addition to “pumping out” produce and poultry year round. Not impressed? Happy Day Farms also runs a CSA program (buy a box! – and some bud if you’ve got a 215 rec). HU is ripe with pride for our neighbors! Good work Happy Day Farms (thumbs up).
So you see Mr. Dodge… this is the model, Happy Day Farms gets it… and its not that HU doesn’t feel you, but we all have to get on board because this ship is sailing and all dead weight is going to get thrown overboard. What we all might loose in income, we will gain in peace of mind. And Mr. Dodge, HU doesn’t mean to harp on you, just think of us as contemporaries who have your best interest at heart!
Now that last month is straight, let’s get back to this months business. This addition of the Underground Review has expanded the scope of the reviewing process. This week, we’re including: everything – including things we got in the mail, chocolate wrappers that magically appeared on our coffee table, random things people said to us, and of course, everything we read in the local media.
- Is that Cannoli hash? In 2010, Richard Lee proclaimed – during the failed Prop 19 campaign – that the Emerald Triangle cannabis industry could only survive legalization if it learned to process outdoor cannabis into fine hash. Although HU feels Mr. Lee was wrong (and still is), hash making is a major part of the cannabis industry – and hash makers are the artisans of the process. High Times devoted an issue to concentrates in July 2014. The issue contemplates the benefits of concentrates to its (conscious) users, the momentum of the industry, and the dangers of its production and consumption. Senior Editor Bobby Black ends the article assured that concentrates will exist post-legalization, just highly regulated. He introduces a handful of the industry’s top extraction experts – the “kings of concentrate” – but doesn’t mention any old school hash makers who practiced this ancient art prior to BHO. But now, us flower power purists, have our king. In an article by Chris Roberts in the SF Evergreen – not be confused with the Evergreen review of the 60’s, this is an up and coming cannabis focused publication out of San Francisco (much like Emerald Magazine of Humboldt) – we meet Frenchy Cannoli – a French hash artesian schooled over eight seasons in Pakistan (http://www.sfevergreen.com/the-found-art-of-the-hashishin/). Upon reading this article, HU’s collective eyebrows rose because we first met Mr. Cannoli on the VIP stage of Wonderland Nursery’s Ganjier Spring Kickoff, he was introduced as Aficionado Seeds official Hashishin (which is mentioned the article). Mr. Cannoli also contributes for The Ganjier out of SoHum where he has written about cannabis branding (http://www.theganjier.com/author/frenchycannoli/). He is also working with Emerald Growers Association to create a “hash-makers guild.” Ladies and gentlemen, the man is moving and shaking (thumbs up). Frenchy is an exemplar of the people of the cannabis industry. Mr. Cannoli is a hash-making expert and he came to Northern California in order apply his craft. He came here to work with quality product and industry. He is an expert and fast becoming a celebrity. His method is pure and simple – no butane, no extractors; only screens, water, and elbow grease. Frenchy is the Man and HU hopes that Mr. Cannoli is the first splash of a wave of currently unknown talent in Northern California. Lets just hope that he keeps rep-ing the Emerald Triangle and doesn’t defect to The Bay.
- Chocolates Co-ops etc? Waking up and sitting down to read and drink coffee, HU noticed something peculiar about the chocolate bar packages we had purchased and consumed the night before. The inside of the wrappers were more intricate than the outside; offering a plethora of info and visuals. The dark chocolate with caocao nibs educated its readers about the plight of the Marianas flying fox and their necessity to the forest. Their habitat, region, population, threats, evolution, and cure were all laid out for the reader and conscious chocolate eater. Ten percent of the proceeds of this bar are donated to saving these bats (sorry, I meant cute flying foxes – better PR). The other bar was devoted to saving small farmers in Ecuador. Wow! What conscious munchies choices we made! The chocolate bar was produced using caocao grown by small farmers in Ecuador and pronounced its devotion to fair trade movement ideals. This bar was apart of the Equal Exchange Coop (equalexchange.coop), which promotes equal and fair trade between farmers and consumers – farmers get fair pay and consumers get quality food they can trust. Now that’s cool! As the caffeine and THC converge, we think: can Northern Cali do something similar? Can we sell quality, trustworthy cannabis at a premium price and maybe give some of our proceeds back to protecting our local environment? That would be cool… Along these same lines, HU recently read Emily Brady’s book: Humboldt Life on America’s Marijuana Frontier. One of the books main characters offers a story about Steve DeAngelo of Harborside Health. In the story she takes her outdoor directly to Steve and demands the same price as indoor, at which point she is politely refused. She later goes on to tell that her persistence – although didn’t get her premium dollar – got her a higher price and appreciation of Humboldt’s sun-grown cannabis. Now Harborside Health has a SunGrown brand of cannabis, which is purported to be conscious and save the environment. The story goes like this: outdoor cannabis farmers from “War on Drug torn regions” of Cali provide their cannabis to Steve and Steve offers them protection and fair pay (wait, that sounds like the mafia… oh well…). Check out this video, it features a hilarious cartoon portrayal of Mr. DeAngelo as he tells us about the history and benefits of outdoor “SunGrown” cannabis (www.harborsidehealthcenter.com/learn/SunGrown-cannabis.html). HU doesn’t quite know how to interpret this type of marketing. Is it lip service or the emergence of a appreciation of outdoor ganja?
- I’ll Show You a Watershed? Water, water, water… we all knew this was coming. Increase population; increase demand; oil then water scarcity. Remember that crazy guy on the corner then on the Internet then sitting on your shoulder? SoCal is a dessert using NorCal water; desertification of The Valley; Drought; fire; cannabis farmers ruin the world: brimstone. Whoa! Whoa, wait a sec… sorry, we got carried away on the last part, it just seems like cannabis farmers are the cause of all fires, water shortages, and environmental damage if you listen to the mainstream media. Seriously though, water and healthy watersheds are important and it’s every farmer’s responsibility to work to preserve our resources. Naturally this is a testy subject – we’ve been fighting over water since Lucy (you know… the Australopithecus that we’re all related to) – and there has been a lot of attention on cannabis farmers and watershed compliance. This was the focus of Cannabis Conscious Radio on KMUD. As you may well know, a multi-agency pilot program run by the State Water Boards’ office of enforcement has been tasked with keeping the people – cannabis farmers included – of the Sprowl Creek Watershed in compliance with state water use guidelines. Inspectors, along with a cadre of militarized police, exercised warrants to inspect the properties of a number of residences; and, as expected, people are pissed. Most of the anger stems from normal dealing with our callous government and it’s oft-overzealous police – and by overzealous we mean Bush-like (America F— Ya!) “Good guy” culture zeal – treating and framing Sprowl Creek residents as criminals. Its our governments normal “fishing for problems” and headlines… Reading an article in the SoHum Independent by Suzelle on water rights and storage compliance, it seems that our government is most lenient on rainwater catchment in ponds or tanks. After reading this, our minds snap back to a permicuture seminar given by Dan Mar of High Tide Permaculture at the Beneficial Living Center (BLC) on South G in Arcata. In the seminar he outlines a permaculture approach to water. Ironically, he just wrote an article for The Ganjier titled: Here’s What a Watershed-friendly Cannabis Farm Looks Like (http://www.theganjier.com/2015/07/13/heres-what-a-watershed-friendly-cannabis-farm-looks-like/). Still here? Go see what it looks like…
- Lastly, here are some short notes of the peculiars… Flipping through the mail we noticed a mailer from Partnership Healthplan of California. Titled OUCH: Safer Management of Chronic Pain, this brief informative packet outlines how to manage pain while minimizing dependence on painkillers. Nowhere is cannabis mentioned… the same week the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) reported that medical cannabis states have seen a decrease in pain medication and opioid-related overdoses. Come on western medicine; get on board the cannabis express – you seem irrelevant at times.
- After a night of drinking beers and smoking spliffs a HU friend launched into a rant about legalization and the central valley. Let me tell you, he is sick and tired of hearing you people say that cannabis farming will relocate to the central valley once legalization is implemented. “It’s a F—ing drought.” And he may have a point: with cannabis farming already located in Northern California, it might be economically, environmentally, and ecologically ergonomic for California to just clean it up and organize it’s cannabis industry where it already is (thumbs up). The industry has evolved here (Humboldt) and as Michael Pollan argues in the Botany of Desire: maybe the plant has found it’s new evolutionary home (symbiotic relationship) with the residents of Northern California.
- Then there’s John (same John from the July 22nd Underground Review), again in the Lost Coast (Crime Report) Outpost, this time with a way forward for Humboldt: A War on Drugs museum… Now, I don’t know what a War on Drug museum might look like (according to John, tourists of Humboldt could reenact the War on Drug years by carrying sacks of soil to pretend grow op’s while helicopter noise is blasted over speakers (no lie), like some post modern civil war enactment), but it could work. We’d go… Sounds like the coolest museum we’ve ever heard of… Cool story John!