Growing for Good and Filling Potholes with Pot

Selfish growers is a term I’ve heard too frequently.  Its time to set the record straight. Sure there are selfish growers but there are an overwhelming number who give broadly to their community and to individuals.  What outsiders don’t realize is that the small hill communities of Southern Humboldt support fire departments, schools, our radio station, and road committees.  Most often growers just contribute cash or support the many fundraisers that  happen nearly every weekend.  But they also frequently grow a plant specifically for a purpose.  When going out to write a piece, I’ve had growers show me a large lush bush popping with buds.  “That one is for the school,” they’ll tell me. Or “That one is going to help fix the potholes on the straight stretch.”

Today, I was reading The Cannabis Post, a blog with a conversational easy way of discussing marijuana.  Recently, the author had come to Humboldt and met a local grower who showed him two patches.

Coming into the blinding rays of light there are twenty foot square plots, raging with rows of WEED growing tall along side of the redwoods.

“This is called the ‘Pencil Patch.’ Over here is the ‘Civic Duty.’”…

“Oh…this Pencil Patch supplies the schools with teachers and equipment. Y’know and all the rest like paper, pencils and glue. Civic Duty sponsors the town with buildings, roads and other needs of a small town,” she says as she cleans the patch removing debris and generally tending to her children.

These growers are not isolated cases.  Southern Humboldt with less than 40,000 people has its own hospice and own women’s shelter entirely supported by local contributions.  There are no government funds involved.  Rumor has it that KMUD went to a conference for independent radio stations.  When the other radio stations learned how much they got through donations, they wanted to know how they could duplicate their fund raising model.  Locals had to explain that marijuana probably provided a large part of what they received.

In these hills, we have well funded fire departments (volunteer but with excellent tools and trucks etc.), decent roads, and small schools.  One of these schools recently held a bakesale and in 5 hours made $1200.

The growing community is willing to help out.  And they don’t just help out with organizations, they help when neighbors go through tough times.  Fundraisers are held to help families whose homes are destroyed by fires, whose family members are ill and those who have been busted.

Like modern day pioneers, growers here form a tight knit community who reach out to help the unlucky  and who support their own fire departments, schools, and keep their roads open and their potholes filled….with pot.



  • My favorite is the $300 chocolate cake at the cakewalk! Now that’s FUNdraising!

  • It has been like that in rural cannabis growing communities throughout the U.S.—not only in Northern California, but in Oregon, Wash., Idaho, and even back east in vermont and upstate New York. Contrast that with urban indoor growers where there is no community and it is everybody out for themselves. Completely different scene.

  • Greets from Trinidad! Same deal here. The local elementary school is heavily funded by locals.

  • Fiance here:

    I only have one thing to say……SOUTH FORK HIGH SCHOOL! I read the Redwood Times. I got letters begging for help and money with every report card.

  • I could ramble about it for days...

    The whole thing about “selfish growers” is a moot arguement. Argeument? Debate. What about selfish carsalsemen? Selfish burger king managers? Selfish electricians? Selfish school teachers? Receiving money for a farmed good is far from selfish no matter how you look at it. But especially if you look at it comparatively. Comparitively? In comparison.

    Compared to anybody who makes a lot of money in legit business, the overwhelming majority of growers aren’t making big money to begin with. Marijuana is highly specialized produce, and unlike a cellphone sales representative or any big-money-for-common-services-rendered-businesspeople…which include many in the public sector like law enforcement, pubic transportation, the medical field…growers don’t get money just for being liasons to even more expensive services rendered.

    I see the “selfish growers” term being thrown around like a catchphrase among people stuck up with angst. Just like ‘ggressive panhandling” and even the debates that want us to believe growers, indoor and out, are somehow bigger polluters than average joes, let alone average “legit” businesses.

    …ramble ramble ramble…

  • I could ramble about it for days...

    what about all them damned selfish tomato growers!!!!!! DAMN THEM!!!!!!!!!!!! THEY ONLY GROW TOMATOES FOR THE MONEY AND USE THE MONEY TO BUY BIG TRUCKS!!!!!! NO MO TOMATO!!!!!!!!! BOYCOTT!!!!!!!

  • Fiance:

    You are comparing the illegal growing of pot to legal professions such as electricians, school teachers etc…? What planet are you on. These legal professionals don’t have to tote guns to ply their trade. If you want to make comparisons let make it with coke dealers, meth dealers and other CRIMINALS. When you make the types of comparisons you are making your are going back to the ole’ apple to oranges. Lets compare apples to…say APPLES. 140,000 plants erridicated in Mendo last week, 45 lb bust because of traffic stop coming out of Shelter Cove ummmmm yesterday. Give me a break. The amount of money these people make compared to what they “donate” is miniscule.

    Lets go back to talking about South Fork. Their music dept. is decimated as is their drama dept. (oh my, how are we going to teach our kids to act their way out of their troubles, they will never be able to be convincing enough liars without the drama department) That school is falling down around their heads. Am I the only one that read the photo essays of Forest Tressider and Anais etc. in the Eureka Times Standard? The kids are tellling you how bad it is for them and they are still being ignored. Where is the money for the park in Garberville that they are all afraid to hang out in?

    I promise you HK would have been glad to have come spent a couple of weeks up there working on South Fork, (he is a master at water proofing and building repair) but your community chose to help his ex-wife cut him out of his daughters life with your lies so that won’t be happening. He would have done it in exchange for a roof over his head while he was there and maybe a meal or two. Somthing like this would have been a great opportunity for him to spend time with his dauther. He used to come up and help her mother make the shacks they lived in livable before she decided that your community would be a better parent than he or her (since I now have documented proof that she dropped the kid off with neighbors for not the days I thought but “weeks at a time.”

    Your priorities are skewed as is your logic.

  • I can’t speak for South Fork but I imagine it is more difficult for a public school to accept large donations of cash than it is for smaller, more private, and more local entities.

  • Fiance:

    Kym, they are begging for donations in the Redwood Times……They beg for donations with every report card. I have seen where people have donated fairly large amounts but the school is in such bad shape that its not enough. They are cutting programs and a lot of it is due to cuts in federal funding because parents think its more important to take their children on extended vacations during the school year than it is for them to get an education. Right now I can pretty much prove they have altered grades and not reported absences because they need the money and/or they are covering up. Apparently it is easier to “fudge” than it is to educate. This has happened at all of the schools she has attended. They are transparent and they do it an get away with it because of the lack of regulation. I know they think they are doing these kids a favor but they aren’t. When it comes time for college these kids are not going to be able to cope or keep up. I know that there are many highly intelligent kids up there but just the fact that they are intelligent does not mean they need a good and HONEST education. It all matters and you of all people should know that. I know that you and many teachers such as yourself do the best that you can but you can’t teach a kid if they aren’t there and its too hard for you and them if you are constantly having to play “catch up” with a few to the detriment of the ones that are.

  • I could ramble about it for days...

    Guns? I forgot only pot growers carried guns to protect their “business”. Just like the selfishness non-issue and the polluition non-issue, you’re talking about a very small fraction of the big picture to begin with. Do you know a typical urban gas station makes $75,000 per day? Do you know a typical chain video store, even in this age of the internet, makes $50,000 per week? Wanna guess how much the Taco Bell in south Eureka pulls in every month? A good used car salesman can make upwards of $8,000 a month. This is all, of course, arguing from the standpoint of growing marijuana strictly as a business…which, along with the legality of it is obviously an issue to you.

    “Money” is a closed, circulatory system. Money in, money out. You can’t eat money. It’s worthless if you don’t spend it. The growers are spending their money. It’s going right back into the system, just like when the manager at Costco collects his fat paycheck, he’s not donating half of it to the city, but he’s spending it. Unlike grossly inflated prices on grossly industrial goods produced by grossly underpaid workers, or ripoff services rendered, farmed goods come from scratch and are much more of an equal exchange deal within the local money system. Badmouthing marijuana growers under one big tent is just dumb.

    Compare to apples you say? It’s like badmouthing apple growers. Incidentally, apple crops span open hectacres and are harvested by machinery running diesel fuel. Many, if not most, fertilize with the likes of miracle grow and spray with toxic pesticides via machinery running even more diesel fuel.

  • I could ramble about it for days...

    Think about the undeniable demand for marijuana…society is constricting around us…new laws and restrictions every year…we’ve been trained to think within a very narrow framework…the mind/body nature of cannabis as a “product” is of much larger proportion to anything you’ll find in Target. Let’s not cover the hillsides of south fork with Targets, please.

  • Fiance:

    How about lets talk about pot tested in San Fran that tested positive for 1000 times the legal limit for pesticides in commercial crops. Do you want to smoke that? I sure don’t..pretty sure it would do me and my medical condition much more harm than good. I am not railing against pot per se, I am railing against a culture and a crop that is going unregulated and unchecked. It is creating dangerous siutation for you and YOUR KIDS. If it were legal you wouldn’t need guns to protect it just like apple and grape growers don’t need guns to protect theirs. And besides, this isn’t a conversation about the pros and cons of cultivation or medical marijuana its a discussion about schools and community development.

    You can’t compare growers with legal professionals such as teachers and electricians……when you do you insult people like me and Kym who make legal livings in these professions. What I am and was trying to say is that as much as is contributed it is not enough and those growing would do much better for YOUR community if you actually paid taxes and/or did a better job of taking care of the community in which you chose to live and raise your children.

    I read quite a bit about the homeless population in SoHum centered around Redway and Garberville. I have read at least two stories recently about violent crimes happening around the Redway beach where my stepdaughter and her friends hang out. I just recently heard where one of her friends was chased off that beach by a bunch of thugs. How do you think that makes me feel? How do you think I feel about the meth busts that are happening all around there knowing that she and her friends are walking around in that mess and they themselves are complaining about having no where safe to hang. Give me a break, I may be slow but I am not stupid. Clean up your neighborhood and maybe I’ll give you a break.

  • Fiance:

    As usual, the SoHummers are evading the real issues by trying to bring up the rest of the world. It is stupid and irrational to try to compare illegal cultivation to any of the above. And once again that isnt’ the issue here. And saying that the issues you bring up are minisucle is also irrational and stupid.

  • I could ramble about it for days...

    Humboldt Kids is a very be-on-my-side-because-I-speak-for-kids kinda name…

    Yes, death, destruction and despair has been decimating us for decades because of marijuana grow operations. Who’s pot tested positive for pesticides? What the hell was that grower thinking? Has homelessness really been that much of a problem in Garberville? Nobody I know is complaining about it.

    I think you’re misunderstanding me and I can see why…sorry. I’m not insulting you and yours, or talking to or about anybody in particular. I just have issue with the aside in kyms blog about “selfish growers”…a really narrowminded way of looking at what’s really going on in the growing world, but a way of looking at it that’s increasing in the print world. It’s intentionally being used as a catchphrase. It’s very one sided and anti-individual. We were all kids once, and some of the ones today will grow up and want to grow marijuana. The less political weight we pile up for them, the better. Sorry for the confusion, I’m just rambling….

  • Fiance:

    Try reading his blog (Humboldt Kids) he is a bit more radical than me…its his kid and much as I love her its time to let her deal with her and mothers bs on her own. I don’t know who’s pot it was but I know it isn’t the only pot that has those amounts of chemicals. I know that I have gotten questionable meds from a dispensary here.

    As far as the homeless situation in G’ville I got that from stories in either the Redwood Times or Eureka TS. I know their reporting is questionable at times but I am pretty sure what was said by bloggers about those stories is dead on.

    What about the state of disrepair of the school and the park in G’ville..I got that from a photo essay thing that some of her friends were involved in that was published in the ETS. It was the kids complaining.

    HK has spent about 40 hours in the last couple of weeks volunteering at a small local school here doing needed repairs and renovations. We don’t have a kid that goes to school here but in his own way it is giving back to a kid because he is not allowed to give anything but finacial support to his. She wants a relationship with him but her mother will not allow it. She gets in major trouble for calling or writing him….Needless to say we know quite a few kids up there because of her….we not only worry about her but them, she loves them so for us that means she transfers that love of them to us. We feel for them but our hands are tied. We chose to stay here and continue to stuggle to survive so that just in case her mother does get caught she has a place to go with two people that love her. We could have had sent the feds up the hill years ago when her mother first cut off contact, we didn’t do that because we A) didn’t want to put his child through that trauma B) know that if her mother does get caught she will spill her guts about any and everything she knows to save her own ass and we didn’t want to risk the families that she works with. We are starting to regret that decision, but its too late now, its time to sit back and wait and see what happens and pray for the best, hope his kid beats the odds.

    You have no idea the conversations I have been a part of in which they express the fear they have lived and grown up with worrying about them and their parents getting busted. Conversations I cannot share because of the trouble they would get in for just mentioning it. Fears they are not allowed to express publically because it would make their parents and their community look bad. Kym has tried to address these issues but what I have heard in secret is not what they will admit to publically.

    I think Kym knows as well as I do that not all growers are greedy and selfish……just like not all of any group can be lumped into one category……..and I think that what she was conveying in her blog today was just exactly that…not all are selfish and greedy.

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  • As always, fantastic work, Kym. I was absolutely gobsmacked to learn that the growers in Mendo County are intimately involved in funding community projects, yet cannot do so openly for fear of repercussions. Makes no sense at all to me. Once again, thanks for sharing.

  • I could ramble about it for days...

    Humboldtkids…yeah, the point of kym’s blog was not lost on me. Like I said I was just rambling (ranting?) on the “selfish growers” tangent. That and blaming growers for pollution and increased rents and energy consumption is baffling. It’s not what’s happening. It’s not even a fraction of the big picture. It’s a biased, often hate, that I don’t understand in some people’s attitude. Most of my point is that *even if* you look at growing marijuana purely as an enterprise for making buttloads of money, the practice is among those with the least negative impact…physcally and financially, and even in the most extreme cases.

    • Fiance:

      How can you say that? What about all the money spent on the environmental “clean up”” after a grow gets busted? What about the major diesel spill resulting from a negligent grower that Kym has written about recently? What about all the damaged I read about done to rental houses from illegal grows destroying them? The landlords have to charge inflated rents to cover the cost of repairs, like the 70+ year old woman that rented a newly renovated home to what she thought was a nice family. They destroyed her home and SHE got arrested. I read about that in Arcata not too long ago. Over $50K in damages. It happens all the time. What about the millions of kilowatt hours of electricity used in indoor grows? There was a recent article done up at Huboldt State about it. I admit there are some “haters” out there but there are valid points to be made along these lines and no one can deny that it is a major problem.

  • I could ramble about it for days...

    I not only can deny it’s a major problem, I do deny it. Humboldtkids, you’re doing a lot of reading about bad practices. Then again, that’s really all that makes print to begin with. You’re not reading about construction companies routinely spilling drums of chemicals and simply not telling anybody about it. Or gross neglect by entities that run places of business like the Bayshore Mall. It never makes print. And if you think property management is a bitch here, I used to maintain property, still do one, and have had to do some serious clean up and repairs after very law-abiding tenants moved out. Local rent increases went right along side the state and national upswing during the housing ‘boom’. Remember the failed bill to kill “blight” in samoa? Who would have thought slapping a new coat of paint on a house could warrant a $500-1000 rent increase, yet all the local agencies did it. It was happening all over the state, but many people, some in local press, saw an opportunity to build up even more hate toward growers in general.

    There are lame-o’s in every demographic, is what I’m saying. Locally there’s a spiteful angst toward all things cannabis and I don’t think it’s healthy for anybody’s community….

    …and it goes on and on and on…ramble ramble ramble….

  • I could ramble about it for days...

    I said bligth bill in samoa, but meant manilla. Personally, I don’t care if my neighbors drive a beat up car, have a frumpy couch on their porch and never mow their lawn….soze long as they’re nice people…and especially soze long as it doesn’t mean my rent is double if they don’t. Ever look up when inside places like Costco? Ceilings covered with 400 watt halides…the energy bill of a typical business is pretty astronomical. THEY could cut some serious corners and save big, but it’s only a topic in small outlets so it never snowballs into real issues like those that constantly get mentioned among bigger audiences.

    …ramble ramble…sorry….I hope you understand what I’m saying. I hate the lazy slobs as much as anybody, but it gets lumped into the anti-argument and like I said, it’s not really what’s going on within the community nor is it related to our quality life like other “legit” business practices. They’re bad apples that need to be recognized as individuals, not the common majority.

  • I do read those things but they are not the issue in Humboldt County. We are discussing Humboldt County and the problems and benefits of growing cannibis. Quit trying to change the subject. And when I talk about a little old lady having to renovate a house that she just renovated as the result of an illegal grow. There was $50K + in damages…it don’t think a coat of paint is all that was needed. Unless your painters are as special as your growers and your paint is as well. There are tons of people out there doing this not just a few. When growers go in and destroy electrical systems to beef them up and flooring and plumbing….it costs LOTS of money to fix. At last count the average environmental clean up at illegal grows where diesel generators and chemicals are in use is over $50 K. ITS a problem and its a major Northern California problem that is spreading to surrounding states.

    • I could ramble about it for days...

      It’s a problem when it happens, yes. It’s not happening all the time. I’ve lived here a long time, there aren’t “tons of people” doing it. I don’t feel like I’m changing the subject by mentioning the goings on of the state and nation, but putting it in perspective. It’s not anywhere near the big deal the media would have us believe. It’s not affecting my quality of life. I only see good people involved in it. I’ve seen a few lazy slobs fail miserably, but they didn’t leave enough of a mess to make the news. If you feel its your fight and want to dedicate your time and effort into curbing the bad practices, more power to you! Please just watch out for the little people loving what they’re doing and doing things right, getting sucked into the hype….is all I’m saying. The whole “grow outside like nature intended” is great except it’s coupled with some sort of idea that growing inside is harmful and wrong. The ganja hate specific to Humboldt is like a stylized propoganda, it’s pretty disturbing. It wasn’t like it is now ten years ago. It’s becoming grower vs. grower. Sadly, I blame the internet and no-holds-barred anonymous communication (I use the word communication loosely.) I hope I’m communicating my point. ramble ramble duh.

  • I could ramble about it for days...

    rereading what I wrote…in a nutshell I think we are on the same page at least in spirit, Humboldtkiddo…I’m really just ranting about the bs crap I’ve been reading about growers lately.

  • This is what I read when I read the post at the top.

    I have to do this. It is the way I was wired. If there are too many things to remember I write a list. Almost every time I write a list, I don’t need it to remember anymore because I wrote it down. Over the years I have learned to reverse the process. If I see something written down I don’t want to remember, I rewrite it and forget about it. It’s Anti Plagiarism and very therapeutic. I think of it as writing between the lines. Here is a profound example.

    ‘Selfish Growers’ is a term I use too frequently. It’s time to set the record straight. There is a significant number of growers overwhelmed by the poverty of their surroundings. What outsiders don’t realize is that the Black Market communities of Southern Humboldt support all the same things that American communities do. Almost every day a wheel barrow full of untraceable cash will go over a pothole spilling several packages of $100 bills or a flatbed truck will take a turn too fast and a bale of medical grade cannabis will slide off. Most growers will just keep going, leaving these trailings for the less fortunate distributors forced out of the more lucrative markets by decriminalization.

    Sometimes these conscience ridden growers will name a section of their illegal garden after the things they would have a right to if they lived in a free society. One grower looks longingly at twenty foot sections of her forty acre plot… This ones called ‘Civic Responsibility’ and this ones called ‘Communal Infrastructure.’ When I asked her about the impact of the cannabis industry on the youth of America she responds with a tear in her eye.

    That’s why I named this patch ‘the Rule of Law’.

    Not all growers are affected by emotion when they destroy a geographical location. Coca and opium traders have vast markets, including legal ones. In an effort to compete with only 40,000 legal residents, Southern Humboldt has designed locations specifically to exploit the battered women and children either drawn or created by a Black Market economy. Rural parks have been converted so unemployed cannabis workers can congregate. The local radio station has funding dependent on positive PR for ALL growers, not just the ones who feel guilty. Recently, a local school panhandled almost an entire weeks worth of tennis shoe money from a grower with out even saying ‘please’.

    The local growers are willing to sell their urine as a salve for the poor, disenfranchised growers not prepared to make the transition from Drug Dealer to Medical Caretaker. In recycled bottles with a tax stamp on them. The package will read ‘Rain Water’ when it gets to your box and your credit card bill will say ‘CHP Contribution Fund’.

    This ‘Rain Water’ salve will sooth duct tape burns when Hoodlums invade your indoor grows. The bottle the salve comes in can be used to smuggle a two gram joint into county lockups without fear of detection (or your money back). Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do if your homes are destroyed by fire unless they are insured. If so, call the toll free number printed in soy ink on the ‘Rain Water’ packaging and ask for ‘Fred’.

    Growers here are modern day pioneers, circling the wagons and decimating the habitats they require for expansion. Some of them feel bad about the little people they step on. Others just want to feel better when they get shot or have something noble to say when they get arrested.

  • I could ramble about it for days...

    Although I don’t think I really get your point, that’s very well written. Poetic…it almost seems like you’re saying there’s a plaque of naivette among the new flock of growers? Re: transition from drug dealer to medical caretaker….all growers were drug dealers before medical marijuana became law. More accurate to say: before the only way you could enjoy cannabis and not fear the sound of your own voice regarding it. As much as I think I agree with what you’re saying, I firmly believe it’s important to play the devil’s advocate for those who won’t speak up when surrounded by people yelling at them for being “bad”. I’m probably relatively naive about the actual indoor grow scene…I’m certain of it…outdoor as well…but I’m not talking out my ass. I have very different political views than my neighbor who is a retired logger…it’s funny that we sleep only a few hundred feet apart every night but live in two different counties entirely, simply because of how we choose to see the world around us.

    More power to you…stop the scurge, speak out against it. In a way I’m sorry I chimed in…kym is saying good things about the good, I jumped in badmouthing the bad. ramble ramble ramble…

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