Know Your Grower–Do They Use Sustainable Cultivation?

Liz Davidson, president of Tea House Collective and producer of the Cannabis Chronicles, appears tomorrow on KPFA’s Living Room to discuss issues of marijuana sustainable farming and what legalization initiatives should contain in the future.  You can tune in 12:30-1 tomorrow at 94.1 Berkeley. Or you can listen to it on the web.  You can also call in at 510-848-4425.

Davidson’s promotion of the Humboldt brand is, of course, good for her collective but it also builds buzz for the whole area’s cannabis. Growers should listen to get the heads up on what is happening in marketing and smokers should listen to understand what they should be looking for in their medicine.

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37 comments

  • Humboldt Dope Yuppies Suck! After years of growing fat like ticks off of artificially inflated prohibition prices, calls for “sustainability” from these bloodsuckers ring especially hollow. So-Hum growers voted 3 to 1 against legalization so that pot smokers and medical marijuana patients would keep paying through the nose for pot, and taxpayers would continue to subsidize their swanky, non-sustainable lifestyle.

    • Boris,
      I understand your frustration with pot’s continuing to be illegal. I feel it, too. But, Growers are not a monolithic society. Some voted for 19. I know many. Others voted against it because of issues with 19. And others voted against it because they were afraid they would lose their homes and their livelihood if it passed. I may not agree with the latter BUT to insist people are bloodsuckers because they want to support their families is unkind and counterproductive. Many if not most growers I know live fairly gentle on the earth lifestyles. Yes there are greedy growers who pollute and who pillage the earth in order to get rich but to lump all So Hum growers together is to miss not only the rich nuance of life here but to slap some tar on people who may be your ally in many cases. Swanky lifestyle does not describe the single mother living in a cabin with a composting toilet and no insulation. Non-sustainable certainly does not describe the beautiful permaculture gardens rich with flowers, fruits and vegetables as well as cannabis. Be gentle, please, and try to see life from others’ perspectives.

  • Humboldt Dope Yuppies Suck! After years of growing fat like ticks off of artificially inflated prohibition prices, calls for “sustainability” from these bloodsuckers ring especially hollow. So-Hum growers voted 3 to 1 against legalization so that pot smokers and medical marijuana patients would keep paying through the nose for pot, and taxpayers would continue to subsidize their swanky, non-sustainable lifestyle.

    • Boris,
      I understand your frustration with pot’s continuing to be illegal. I feel it, too. But, Growers are not a monolithic society. Some voted for 19. I know many. Others voted against it because of issues with 19. And others voted against it because they were afraid they would lose their homes and their livelihood if it passed. I may not agree with the latter BUT to insist people are bloodsuckers because they want to support their families is unkind and counterproductive. Many if not most growers I know live fairly gentle on the earth lifestyles. Yes there are greedy growers who pollute and who pillage the earth in order to get rich but to lump all So Hum growers together is to miss not only the rich nuance of life here but to slap some tar on people who may be your ally in many cases. Swanky lifestyle does not describe the single mother living in a cabin with a composting toilet and no insulation. Non-sustainable certainly does not describe the beautiful permaculture gardens rich with flowers, fruits and vegetables as well as cannabis. Be gentle, please, and try to see life from others’ perspectives.

  • Boris Finepoint,

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but you are incorrect when you write that “So-Hum growers voted 3 to 1 against legalization.”

    In fact, Humboldt county’s Prop 19 results were right in line with the statewide results.

    Here’s Humboldt on 19:
    YES 17,702 46.7% NO 20,130 53.3%

    And statewide:
    YES 4,634,383 46.5% NO 5,322,716 53.5%

    You can see that Humboldt actually voted trivially higher than the state average in favor of 19.

    So I expect a retraction, a mea culpa, or an ice-cream cone to the forehead unless you have data on “So Hum growers” as a specific voter demographic.

    Cheers!

    • Mathew, your numbers are merely for how the total voters of Humboldt voted. That doesn’t shed much light on how the soHum growers voted. SoHum makes up about an eighth of the county’s population, and the growers are only a portion of that, do you have numbers for how the soHum growers voted? I’ve talked to many many soHum growers over the course of the year and my feeling is that Boris is about right with his estimate of three to one. I don’t see that you have any proof that he isn’t any more than he has proof that he is.

  • Boris Finepoint,

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but you are incorrect when you write that “So-Hum growers voted 3 to 1 against legalization.”

    In fact, Humboldt county’s Prop 19 results were right in line with the statewide results.

    Here’s Humboldt on 19:
    YES 17,702 46.7% NO 20,130 53.3%

    And statewide:
    YES 4,634,383 46.5% NO 5,322,716 53.5%

    You can see that Humboldt actually voted trivially higher than the state average in favor of 19.

    So I expect a retraction, a mea culpa, or an ice-cream cone to the forehead unless you have data on “So Hum growers” as a specific voter demographic.

    Cheers!

    • Mathew, your numbers are merely for how the total voters of Humboldt voted. That doesn’t shed much light on how the soHum growers voted. SoHum makes up about an eighth of the county’s population, and the growers are only a portion of that, do you have numbers for how the soHum growers voted? I’ve talked to many many soHum growers over the course of the year and my feeling is that Boris is about right with his estimate of three to one. I don’t see that you have any proof that he isn’t any more than he has proof that he is.

  • Boris responds,
    While northern Humboldt remains more diverse, the Redway, G,ville area cultivates an economic monoculture. So I assume those returns represent the Humboldt growers more accurately than other precincts.
    As I recall, PL loggers justified the continued clear-cutting of old growth forests the same way. Just good people trying to make a living the only way they know how. What about those single mothers, who will never be able to afford land and who need medical marijuana? Should they continue to be forced to subsidize rural landowners.
    Lots of people, me included, would love to have a little cabin in the woods with a composting toilet, but thanks to the illegal industry occupying this area, land prices remain artificially inflated and housing remains artificially scarce. Commercial marijuana should be grown on ag. land, not forest land or in residential neighborhoods where water use, clearings, fertilizer runoff, strong odors and unsafe electrical use will not impact neighbors or wildlife.
    Finally, lets not ignore the corrupting effect of an illegal economy. Our high murder, suicide and drug overdose rate just begin to scratch the surface of these effects. Subtler effects involve conspicuous consumption of status symbols and other excesses, kids who grow up believing that honest work is for suckers, not to mention the aforementioned monoculture that continues to drive out economic diversity in favor of more and more marijuana, exacerbating the risk of economic collapse.

  • Boris responds,
    While northern Humboldt remains more diverse, the Redway, G,ville area cultivates an economic monoculture. So I assume those returns represent the Humboldt growers more accurately than other precincts.
    As I recall, PL loggers justified the continued clear-cutting of old growth forests the same way. Just good people trying to make a living the only way they know how. What about those single mothers, who will never be able to afford land and who need medical marijuana? Should they continue to be forced to subsidize rural landowners.
    Lots of people, me included, would love to have a little cabin in the woods with a composting toilet, but thanks to the illegal industry occupying this area, land prices remain artificially inflated and housing remains artificially scarce. Commercial marijuana should be grown on ag. land, not forest land or in residential neighborhoods where water use, clearings, fertilizer runoff, strong odors and unsafe electrical use will not impact neighbors or wildlife.
    Finally, lets not ignore the corrupting effect of an illegal economy. Our high murder, suicide and drug overdose rate just begin to scratch the surface of these effects. Subtler effects involve conspicuous consumption of status symbols and other excesses, kids who grow up believing that honest work is for suckers, not to mention the aforementioned monoculture that continues to drive out economic diversity in favor of more and more marijuana, exacerbating the risk of economic collapse.

  • sbb, you’re right, I don’t really know how the niche of SoHum growers voted. And I live a few ranges over and don’t know Humboldt growers personally. I could be wrong, and anyone with local knowledge may have a basis for an estimate like yours, and it has more behind than mine would. I guess I’m tilting at the meme that says, ridiculously, that Prop 19 didn’t pass because of Humboldt pot growers eyeing the Benjamins. Has that meme left the building? ‘Cause I thought I still caught a whiff…

  • sbb, you’re right, I don’t really know how the niche of SoHum growers voted. And I live a few ranges over and don’t know Humboldt growers personally. I could be wrong, and anyone with local knowledge may have a basis for an estimate like yours, and it has more behind than mine would. I guess I’m tilting at the meme that says, ridiculously, that Prop 19 didn’t pass because of Humboldt pot growers eyeing the Benjamins. Has that meme left the building? ‘Cause I thought I still caught a whiff…

  • I’ve heard that while Humboldt as a whole voted slightly more for 19 than voters across the state did, that SoHum voted three to one against it. But I have yet to see any official numbers. I’ll try and track those down. I have a request in to another reporter who has a better handle on where to get that info than I do.

    Boris, as a reader I’m sure you are aware that I was very pro legalization. I don’t agree with decisions made by some of neighbors but I don’t think they are bad just as I don’t think most of the PL loggers were bad. I think that labeling folks who do something you don’t like as all bad is harmful. And it is not true.

    Most importantly labeling shuts the conversation down. People don’t want to listen to any of your concerns once you’ve told them they are bad. They know they aren’t. They know they donate to charity or have low environmental footprints. Therefore, they don’t listen to the concerns you have.

    In my life I’ve found that talking about what worries me–high suicide rates, domestic violence issues, pot pollution etc. without labeling people as evil allows people to open themselves up to hearing me. Often that results in changes in their behavior. Most importantly though I find that I see them as humans and I can hear what they have to say. Sometimes I even find that they’re right and I’m wrong on some of the issues. Boy,has that been a shocker;>

  • I’ve heard that while Humboldt as a whole voted slightly more for 19 than voters across the state did, that SoHum voted three to one against it. But I have yet to see any official numbers. I’ll try and track those down. I have a request in to another reporter who has a better handle on where to get that info than I do.

    Boris, as a reader I’m sure you are aware that I was very pro legalization. I don’t agree with decisions made by some of neighbors but I don’t think they are bad just as I don’t think most of the PL loggers were bad. I think that labeling folks who do something you don’t like as all bad is harmful. And it is not true.

    Most importantly labeling shuts the conversation down. People don’t want to listen to any of your concerns once you’ve told them they are bad. They know they aren’t. They know they donate to charity or have low environmental footprints. Therefore, they don’t listen to the concerns you have.

    In my life I’ve found that talking about what worries me–high suicide rates, domestic violence issues, pot pollution etc. without labeling people as evil allows people to open themselves up to hearing me. Often that results in changes in their behavior. Most importantly though I find that I see them as humans and I can hear what they have to say. Sometimes I even find that they’re right and I’m wrong on some of the issues. Boy,has that been a shocker;>

    • Hey, speaking of right and wrong, I think you guys may be right about Prop 19 in So Hum. Kym, you gotta work on your Google chops: district-by-district reports for Humboldt are available at: http://co.humboldt.ca.us/election/results/2010/2010nov-precinct%20report.pdf. Took about a minute to find with Google.

      I picked a random Garberville polling place (2sh-4) and saw that the vote was 64-36 against with about 400-some votes cast. So, I can believe that there were places that were 2-1 or maybe even 3-1, though it’s impressive that other parts of the county brought the results in line with those of the state in general without the help of some of those most involved in the industry.

      Mea culpa.

      • Matthew,

        What I don’t know is how to figure out which precincts are which. I’ve been looking for a Humboldt County precinct map online. (And yes I googled it but I’m not finding it in the 15 minutes I have to spend.) Any one with mad googling skills?

        • Yeah, Kym, the precinct map I didn’t find. So I made up a Garberville address and put it in their “find your polling place” calculator. Not an efficient way to make a good assessment of the polling places we’re interested in. I’d be interested to know if anyone finds one.

          • Clever, Matthew. I can’t find a map either, but our precincts seem to be clumped into the bottom of the list you discovered–and SoHum precincts are conveniently identifiable by their Health Care District election results–and, um, by their margins of 2 to 4 to one against Prop 19.

            Like others, I don’t judge people in the business for rejecting a hostile business plan (though I voted for the stinker). If Lee had worked with others he would have built more of a coalition and less of a Meg Whitman resemblance. I’m sure we’ll all do better next time with his poor example in mind.

  • Commercial marijuana is not sustainable in Humboldt County. T he sheer volume of pot being grown in SoHum is destructive. This non-native plant is ill-suited to our climate, as it needs water during the dry season. Sustainable means working within nature’s limits. It’s not just a marketing ploy.

    • Woodrat,

      I know folks who use ponds to water rather than draw out of our creeks. Wouldn’t that count as sustainable watering?

      I’m not sure the sheer volume is the problem but I think that using creek water, over fertilizing, improperly terracing leading to erosion and a host of other problems can be laid at the feet of uninformed or uncaring growers.

  • Commercial marijuana is not sustainable in Humboldt County. T he sheer volume of pot being grown in SoHum is destructive. This non-native plant is ill-suited to our climate, as it needs water during the dry season. Sustainable means working within nature’s limits. It’s not just a marketing ploy.

    • Woodrat,

      I know folks who use ponds to water rather than draw out of our creeks. Wouldn’t that count as sustainable watering?

      I’m not sure the sheer volume is the problem but I think that using creek water, over fertilizing, improperly terracing leading to erosion and a host of other problems can be laid at the feet of uninformed or uncaring growers.

  • I don’t expect these people to listen to me when money speaks so loudly. I’m just really sick of listening to smug, self-satisfied dope yuppies congratulate themselves. They are so eager to forgive their own sins, and ignore the consequences of their actions. So what if they give to charity, that doesn’t make pot farming any less destructive. These people love to talk about their gardens, as though gardening were some wonderful, virtuous activity. Its not. Agriculture is original sin. Agriculture leads to war, famine and desertification. These back-to-the-landers arrived with an agricultural model in mind, and the only way they could make it work was by growing pot and capitalizing on prohibition laws and So-Hums remoteness. But the reality is, the model does not work without the big subsidy provided by prohibition. People should know that SoHum is one of the worst places to grow marijuana from a sustainability perspective. The only reason to grow marijuana in a forest is to hide from the law.

    Oh yeah, there are so many natural ponds in the woods in So-Hum. You must be talking about those big holes in the ground people dig with bulldozers, then line with plastic and stock with koi. Lots of wild animals lose their lives in those death traps every year. That’s just more forest habitat destroyed for pot farming. Those ponds require regular maintenance, and often fail, sometimes spectacularly. I don’t consider that sustainable in the least.

    If you’re serious about growing marijuana, you should buy some ag. land and a tractor and get out of the woods. Learn to make a living producing kind bud at under $500 a pound and cut the foo foo che che boutique crap.

    • Boris, my flowers are watered and my toilet is flushed with water from a pond. This pond was built with a dozer but without a liner and has been naturalized for over 30 years. It is beautiful and appears to be appreciated by the local wildlife including deer, raccoons, redwinged blackbirds and migrating wildfowl. It isn’t natural but neither is my house. As humans we try to live lightly on the land and think about what we are doing. Are all ponds as carefully fitted into the natural landscape as this? No, could they be? probably.

      I’ve seen some beautiful permaculture gardens and every year I see people make more attempts to live lightly on the land. Are they perfect? No. Should you keep putting out information on how certain practices are not appropriate? YES! Please keep on using this forum and others to point out issues. I agree with you on those ponds with plastic liners being deer deathtraps. I’d love to see some stats on them so I could write about them. In fact, I’ll try check around and write something if I can find enough info.

    • Agriculture is original sin

      The back-to-the-land folks, like Eve, had the courage to disobey the prohibitive commandment.

  • I don’t expect these people to listen to me when money speaks so loudly. I’m just really sick of listening to smug, self-satisfied dope yuppies congratulate themselves. They are so eager to forgive their own sins, and ignore the consequences of their actions. So what if they give to charity, that doesn’t make pot farming any less destructive. These people love to talk about their gardens, as though gardening were some wonderful, virtuous activity. Its not. Agriculture is original sin. Agriculture leads to war, famine and desertification. These back-to-the-landers arrived with an agricultural model in mind, and the only way they could make it work was by growing pot and capitalizing on prohibition laws and So-Hums remoteness. But the reality is, the model does not work without the big subsidy provided by prohibition. People should know that SoHum is one of the worst places to grow marijuana from a sustainability perspective. The only reason to grow marijuana in a forest is to hide from the law.

    Oh yeah, there are so many natural ponds in the woods in So-Hum. You must be talking about those big holes in the ground people dig with bulldozers, then line with plastic and stock with koi. Lots of wild animals lose their lives in those death traps every year. That’s just more forest habitat destroyed for pot farming. Those ponds require regular maintenance, and often fail, sometimes spectacularly. I don’t consider that sustainable in the least.

    If you’re serious about growing marijuana, you should buy some ag. land and a tractor and get out of the woods. Learn to make a living producing kind bud at under $500 a pound and cut the foo foo che che boutique crap.

    • Boris, my flowers are watered and my toilet is flushed with water from a pond. This pond was built with a dozer but without a liner and has been naturalized for over 30 years. It is beautiful and appears to be appreciated by the local wildlife including deer, raccoons, redwinged blackbirds and migrating wildfowl. It isn’t natural but neither is my house. As humans we try to live lightly on the land and think about what we are doing. Are all ponds as carefully fitted into the natural landscape as this? No, could they be? probably.

      I’ve seen some beautiful permaculture gardens and every year I see people make more attempts to live lightly on the land. Are they perfect? No. Should you keep putting out information on how certain practices are not appropriate? YES! Please keep on using this forum and others to point out issues. I agree with you on those ponds with plastic liners being deer deathtraps. I’d love to see some stats on them so I could write about them. In fact, I’ll try check around and write something if I can find enough info.

    • Agriculture is original sin

      The back-to-the-land folks, like Eve, had the courage to disobey the prohibitive commandment.

  • Any and all arguments regarding Proposition 19 as a simple matter of “legalizing marijuana” are based on false foundations in the first place. If you think the No on Prop. 19 crowd was all about money, you really have no idea who put the bill together in the first place. Interested people, and of course growers, want to grow and smoke marijuana without any hassle whatsoever. “Growers” understand life as well as “consumers”. The question isn’t as to when these invisible media-made growers are going to get it through their thick skulls to support what the people want. The question is when will people realize a very small, very wealthy and very private interest created Propoganda 19 in the first place…when will people who want to hate on “growers” care enough to look into the history of who put together the bill, how, where it was going to go, and what can now happen instead.

  • Any and all arguments regarding Proposition 19 as a simple matter of “legalizing marijuana” are based on false foundations in the first place. If you think the No on Prop. 19 crowd was all about money, you really have no idea who put the bill together in the first place. Interested people, and of course growers, want to grow and smoke marijuana without any hassle whatsoever. “Growers” understand life as well as “consumers”. The question isn’t as to when these invisible media-made growers are going to get it through their thick skulls to support what the people want. The question is when will people realize a very small, very wealthy and very private interest created Propoganda 19 in the first place…when will people who want to hate on “growers” care enough to look into the history of who put together the bill, how, where it was going to go, and what can now happen instead.

  • The claims about “big marijuana” using too much water are exaggerated.

    I seen this water use chart which ballparks and admits ranges based on water use practices.

    Holy shit tho, 1,120 gallons of water for some coffee, 960 for wine, 16,000 for a pack of hamburgers, 16,000 for a computer chip.

    So all you folks saying weed growers use more than their share of water, stop all the bullshit hypocrisy and then talk. The average house on municipal water flushes a hundred thousand gallons so unless you live in a cabin with no computer and never drink coffee or milk and wear hemp (guess why) clothing, you prolly use hella more water than some weed garden run on a five thousand gallon reservoir.

  • The claims about “big marijuana” using too much water are exaggerated.

    I seen this water use chart which ballparks and admits ranges based on water use practices.

    Holy shit tho, 1,120 gallons of water for some coffee, 960 for wine, 16,000 for a pack of hamburgers, 16,000 for a computer chip.

    So all you folks saying weed growers use more than their share of water, stop all the bullshit hypocrisy and then talk. The average house on municipal water flushes a hundred thousand gallons so unless you live in a cabin with no computer and never drink coffee or milk and wear hemp (guess why) clothing, you prolly use hella more water than some weed garden run on a five thousand gallon reservoir.

  • I know that creating ponds is popular in permaculture circles, and I’m glad that yours is working well for you. However, as a general rule, excavating ponds is not a good solution for growers in SoHum. Deviating drastically from what we find here normally can have unforeseen negative consequences. Extensively watering plants, in an area where it is naturally dry, can negatively affect surrounding native plants and soil microbes. Geologically, excavating our soils is a tricky business. Collapse is definitely possible, and other long term consequence are unclear. Sanctuary Forest promotes the use of those giant water tanks, but they also don’t address the issue of using such large amounts of water. Reducing the amount of water we use, and hence divert from the natural hydrological cycle, is the best option. A few plants for personal use can be grown with minimal impact, but commercial growing is best left to areas where rain is plentiful and normal during the summer. Rather than trying to mold our environment to how we want to live, adapting ourselves to the natural conditions of our environment is always better, both for the environment and our psyches.

    Mr. Nice, my household uses less than 30 gallons of water a week.

  • I know that creating ponds is popular in permaculture circles, and I’m glad that yours is working well for you. However, as a general rule, excavating ponds is not a good solution for growers in SoHum. Deviating drastically from what we find here normally can have unforeseen negative consequences. Extensively watering plants, in an area where it is naturally dry, can negatively affect surrounding native plants and soil microbes. Geologically, excavating our soils is a tricky business. Collapse is definitely possible, and other long term consequence are unclear. Sanctuary Forest promotes the use of those giant water tanks, but they also don’t address the issue of using such large amounts of water. Reducing the amount of water we use, and hence divert from the natural hydrological cycle, is the best option. A few plants for personal use can be grown with minimal impact, but commercial growing is best left to areas where rain is plentiful and normal during the summer. Rather than trying to mold our environment to how we want to live, adapting ourselves to the natural conditions of our environment is always better, both for the environment and our psyches.

    Mr. Nice, my household uses less than 30 gallons of water a week.

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