Monday, May 29, 2023

Local Cannabis Cultivator Considers Future of the Industry: ‘Today in Mendocino, We are Also At a Crossroads’


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[Picture provided by David King]

The future of cannabis farming will have to follow the new leaders in profitable large scale industrial agriculture in order to survive. Today’s leaders in large scale industrial agriculture are using a living soil system that is regenerative to the soil. Their soil is no longer treated like an ever reducing expense account. Their soil turns into a savings account that grows and can last for centuries.

Today the majority of US farms operate under a failed agricultural system that relies too heavily on wealth accumulated by unsustainable extraction and government subsidies. We witnessed the collapse of the family farm. We designed a taxpayer funded farm subsidy system, even with consolidation and operations of scale we witnessed the collapse of the mega farm and their bail out by the American taxpayers.

We have a path towards a sustainable and profitable model. Farmers are breaking free from the government subsidies / welfare model. We are in an agricultural revolution. We are seeing farmers getting off of government subsidies, while maintaining or increasing yield. At the same time getting a higher price for their product and greatly reducing their input costs. When the harvest is done their soil is in better condition than when they started. This is being done on a large scale, one individual agronomy consulting firm is consulting on over 2 million acres alone. The end results are Cattle ranchers that are producing beef with the same omega ratios as salmon. Large processed food manufacturers like General Mills are footing the bill and are working with farmers to transfer them over to a living soil system. We are witnessing substantially higher nutrient density levels in produce. It is such an effective farm system that Bayer, the owners of Monsanto, is touting it as the future of farming. Of course they tweaked it so Bayer’s farmers will have to use glyphosate resistant cover crops so the dusters can keep spraying.

Today in Mendocino we are also at a crossroads. We are fortunate to have one road with legacy farmers that pioneered regenerative living soil systems. We can follow these farmers and build environmentally sound systems that will have long term economic viability. These farmers are willing to train their competitors, they are willing to subsidize our local industry by using their own land to build it. They are offering millions of dollars in property and decades of experience to establish a stable industry based on a circular economy, so our community can all rise together. Legacy farmers are promoting a manageable expansion that is inclusive of our community.

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The other road is based on the failed system of a boom bust extractive model where the goal is to race to the bottom to consolidate and put competitors out of business. We can already see the writing on the wall with outside interests promoting less exclusive zoning to put legacy farmers out of business, and promoting discriminatory behavior towards law abiding legacy farmers. They are saying legacy farmers are outlaws by default and therefore guilty by broad stroke association. We are seeing inflated property prices by outside speculators. Those outside interests in favor of expansion are promoting the success of neighboring counties. Take for instance mega farms in Lake county who use a cultivation model of man made fabric pots and imported grow medium only to produce low weights and low quality because they lack the experience. The systems they are modeling were used when the product was 4 times the price and not taxed by 3 different levels of government. Just because venture capitalists can spend money doesn’t mean the projects will pencil out.

Who do we want to build a new industry? Legacy farmers who have mentored their competitors so they could prosper too. Legacy farmers that have raised their family’s in Mendocino for generations, have invested in the community, and volunteered in the community. Or do we want large out of town interests that extract the funds from our community. Venture capitalists want to set up a system that pays farmers two cents on the dollar. Legacy farmers want to work for 6 to 10 cents on the dollar. This can be achieved because they are the head farmer and CEO, more often than not they live on the premises too. This all adds up to more money in our community.

We have spent 4 years working with the county and state to build a working system. We have patiently waited, and now all of the sudden the word is we need to hurry up and if we can’t do it quickly then we won’t be involved at all. We don’t even have 5 % of the retail locations we had before Prop 64. This industry has many more years to get on track and we have plenty of farms already. The holes in our supply chain is the lack of quality product not quantity. What is our best chance of producing quality in Mendocino? Who is most likely going to choose what is right for the land and the community as a whole? We need a phase 3. We need more inclusiveness in zoning as a path for legacy farmers. Legacy farmers have put their money where their mouth is and agreed to embark on this risky journey with a 10k sq ft cap. Giving them the ability to expand to 4 times the size will give them the ability to better survive the pending price drop.

Cannabis is legal, it is here to stay. Do you want to endure the growing pains of building an industry while working with local families or outside venture capitalists?

-David King, Local Cannabis Cultivator

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  1. Comparing the evolution of food crops re evolving to the old ways and getting backing from large corporations to the marijuana trade is out of context. The marijuana trade provides no food or fodder from any of it’s magical compounds, it most closely related to the commercial equivalency of tobacco with a taxonomy that has a multitude of sometimes non desirable effects from cigarette like effects to a drunk like stupor. While I agree with soil regenerative techniques becoming the way of both big and small agriculture, I also think there’s nothing more beautiful than a pasture in the spring littered with a speckle of sheep and cows and further more a half kilted barn next to it makes a great photo opportunity. I see the trade as some may call it with the sharp dressed men and women who speak with an educated facile tongue repugnant when the real crop car taker rolls out disheveled and awash in the the effect of marijuana. While not every grow is represented this way the 3rd phase growers will inevitably be this or worse yet a conglomerate formed by a syndicate of nefarious individuals with revenue streams to fund large farms. We see promises by the industry as to the economic benefit that was guaranteed even in stage one of this grand plan, only to see a rape and pillage effect still following in it’s convoluted wake. I stand with those that call Mendocino counties valleys our home and within them our hometowns or the place we long for after a journey away and I say nay to the silver twisted tongues and yes to have supported this economy in the dark days of our communities through old techniques not fraught with cash filled barrels that lead to cash filled box vans. We have survived and we will survive as we have for the many generations before us.

  2. Living soil regenerative whatever you want to market it as, how many double transfer loads can I get for my pots in hoops?

    • A big part of my back to the land culture is based on food as medicine. I would not be here today if it wasn’t for western medicine, but have found western medicine lacking focus on nutrition. But this is changing and science is validating our perspective. So in regards to cannabis as a food source. I have experienced incredible results with cannabis in the form of juicing. It is a super accumulator and has so much more to offer than cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. I am going to simplify this to save time. First you start with a living soil system. Very few places on earth have the full range of necessary elements so we provide them. Now the trick is to provide them in the reduced form. This is essential. The foundation of nutrition health is the production of DNA. The process of putting the sequences together needs a tool. This tool is an enzyme. Specific enzymes are needed for specific sequences. If we do not have the enzyme we end up with altered nucleotide sequences. Which will be continuously reproduced. This is the foundation of disease. So these important enzymes all have individual elemental cofactors. So back to the soil. We produce soil with the needed elements. First you test the soil. Then do a saturated paste test to see what the soil can actually supply to the plant. Then we test the plant material but it can be misleading due to soil redox. In biology we use the terms oxidants and antioxidants. In soil we use the term reduced or oxidized. So we need to get the elements into the plant material in the reduced form so the plant can use it. The plant material can show that they have elements in them but many elements can be in the oxidized form. This may be present but will not be available for the plant to use or those that consume the plant. So we do a plant sap test, it’s like a blood test for plants. The soil becomes a manufacturing plant for elements in the reduced form. The plant material can be consumed to achieve elemental uptake. I am staying in a very narrow range of discussion on all the benefits that plant material has to offer. So we take the leaf of the cannabis plant and consume it as a juice. Picture having a blood test that showed deficiencies. Imagine taking cannabis leaf and cover crops specially designed for you as an individual and juicing them for your nutrition foundation. Imagine if we have a living soil system that could be in your own backyard and you could connect with the plants that would sustain you.This is just a simplified version of some of the things us cannabis farmers are working on. Cannabis has been consumed internally and externally for centuries. That said, this train of thought is not profitable because practitioners work tirelessly to supply these services for free. We cannot survive without plants. Yes you can get a nutrient density from meat. But only if the meat consumes plant material. Plants are plants and food is medicine

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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