Should I join a cooperative? Maybe I am fine on my own.

Today, California’s cannabis industry is facing a seismic shift in market forces and culture dynamics. We are in the next generation of the cannabis industry, where profit margins and taxes force us to rethink how we sell and what is considered a marketable batch. But internally, cultivators are sometimes at odds.

On one side there’s the whole plant diversity group, which understands that top flower units are no longer the key indicator of market success. On the other side are some legacy cultivators, who are entrenched in traditional processes and market approaches despite the impacts that cannabis legalization brings to that approach.

At Giving Tree Farms, we’ve experienced this culture clash first hand. When we first installed our climate-controlled greenhouse, our friend jokingly accused us of gentrifying the ridge. Here, ridges are the regional equivalent of neighborhoods, and these neighborhoods typically come with a rich history of cultivation. But to some, a greenhouse is considered a threat to the pioneering work of our cannabis forefathers.

Our friend is the embodiment of the cultivator who shuns the regulated market and refuses to stay nimble in this fast changing landscape. He’s been growing the same way for more than 20 years. He resents trimming, balks at the use of dehumidifiers in the drying process, and never inspects for pests or uses preventative methods. He amends his soil with his compost pile, plants in May, and waters, harvests and hangs his crop to dry under trees. He refuses to consider new ways to improve his processes and is adamantly opposed to entering the regulated market. Everything we say is nonsense in his eyes.

The other side of the spectrum operates with a more progressive mindset. We are always looking at ways to improve our craftsmanship and for opportunities to process our plants in new and exciting ways. We attend networking events and volunteer in groups to better the industry. We are not fearful of the competition or use general statements to define well-funded companies as “corporations.”

Change is often terrifying, but we believe staying involved is key to helping shape the industry for the future. Through progressive action and collaboration, we can prevent regulatory uncertainties from destroying the work of our early pioneers. We respect those who sacrificed so much for this industry and want to make sure they have a way to participate in this newly regulated market, if they wish.

When we first heard of Hive Mendocino, we knew we had found our tribe. Hive Mendocino is a cannabis cooperative made up of small licensed farms coming together to bolster their position in the market. The group holds each other accountable, provides guidance, and works as a team to tackle policy and regulatory issues head-on. Although we each have honed our craft differently, we can offer an exceptionally wide array of skills and an amazingly deep level of expertise by working together. 

For us at Giving Tree Farms, we need a community of open-minded peers to navigate this transition together. A farmer-owned and operated cooperative named Hive is the answer.


What if...

What if I had married that partner who couldn’t spell steak?

Like most over-thinkers, the “what ifs” rule my life. Anxiety is ever present. I worry about practically everything.

Thankfully, I married an incredible man that keeps me in check with reality and reels me back when the worries creep in. I’m even more grateful for the man I married when I compare him to the other choice I could have made -- the choice to marry and legally bind myself to a guy who liked to brush my hair and go out for “brockly” and “steek” once a week.

I dodged a bullet getting away from Brockly Guy, but nonetheless, I think of that close call like one of those ‘choose your own adventure’ books, where certain narrative choices lead to different plot outcomes. That’s basically my brain in a nutshell. On the one hand, the anxiety is fuel that drives and pushes me every single day. But it’s also the thing that keeps me from truly enjoying my life the way I ought to be.

Luckily for me, there’s microdosing! 

As a cultivator, I often frazzle my nerves when choosing which genetics to plant, and I always stress out over whether or not the product will be attractive to buyers on the other end. But when you step back and think about it, this process is totally ineffective and is no way to run a business.

So what’s the solution? Simply put, we team up the producers and the makers and start being proactive. We share planting inventory or have clients customize crops. No more surprises. No more wondering if what you want will be available when you need it.

I’m talking on demand and customized cultivation.

Come on, let’s do this before I have an anxiety attack.

Here is a link to my calendar. Set up a 30 minute discovery call and we can talk needs and timeline. I am not as weird as I sound in this blog, promise.

The new face of farming. What the hell does that even mean?

Some things in the agricultural industry always remain the same, no matter what decade you’re in: Early hours, long stretches of time being tied to your land, a maddening overuse of the word “moist,” an acute awareness of the weather, and clothes that never seem to come clean.

Oh, and my fingernails are perpetually cracked, with a slight ring of dirt under them. I gave up manicured nail maintenance a long time ago.

In the cannabis industry, we’re really not much different than any other agriculture sectors. We produce a plant that grows in dirt. The catch is that the local, state and federal government treats cannabis like tiny nuclear weapons that must be closely monitored and controlled.

And because we’re a new industry, all of the “don’t use the hairdryer in the shower” type regulations are in full force.

Still, it’s important for us at Giving Tree Farms to remain teachable. Improving processes and not being a know-it-all is a top priority. My husband and I are never satisfied with our quality, and our quest for perfection helps open our eyes to new cultivate methods.  

For a tour of our greenhouse, click here

Photo courtesy of Brooke Cagle. Check out her shots. They are a-may-zing. 

What is your buying style?

If you ask a cannabis enthusiast what they like to see in their cannabis products, they’ll most likely respond with epithet for high-quality. Whether it’s dank, fire or flame, the typical cannabis consumer is just seeking out the leading top-shelf products they can afford. This is what we call the reactionary or impulse buyer.

While this method works well for consumers, it’s highly ineffective for manufacturers, retailers and distributors. Today’s cannabis users want to know about what they’re consuming and how a crop was harvested. If you don’t know this information, you’re running the risk of losing a sale to an informed consumer.

Transitioning from a reactionary to a proactive buyer

The No. 1 way to ensure that you’re buying the best products on the market is to source product from a reputable and trusted farm. It’s also critically important to ask questions -- the right questions -- of your farmer to ensure consistency and quality of product.

This is what we call the proactive or informed buyer.

Essential questions to ask as a proactive buyer

Here are some key questions you should ask a farm that you consider buying from:

  1. Ask for their CDFA license # and a copy for your records. 

  2. Which nutrient regime is used? Animal and plant based fertilizers such as compost teas and bone meal? Or synthetic fertilizers such as the Botanicare line? What soil do you use?

  3. What integrated pest management (IPM) system do you use? Ask for the brand names of the bio-insecticides or bio-fungicides. When do you stop using these methods in a growing cycle? 

  4. What strains do you have or will you have available this season? What is your monthly harvest/inventory schedule?

  5. Do you grow from seed or clone? What generation genetics are you using? Where do you source from?

  6. What quality controls methods are in place during drying and processing?

  7. Finally, ask for your preferred strain or product. And if it’s out of stock, ask about a similar offering. 

Go beyond the basics

If you’re pleased with the answers from your preliminary Q&A, or in some cases your initial purchase, the next step is to have a more in-depth conversation with your farmer and map out a plan.

Planting ahead is critical for success. 

Reserve a batch prior to harvest

Knowing when the harvest is ready and available will significantly improve your purchase options and flexibility. By reserving a batch, you can lock in a trendy and desirable harvest and avoid picking over someone else's leftovers. It also helps you keep your business going by having the product available when you need it.

However, this requires that you know what to reserve and what kind of timeline to expect.

Determine needs

Long gone are the days of just buying cannabis based on availability. Modern purchasers are looking for quality, quantity, and characteristics. They want to know the particulars of what a plant has to offer, like what terpenes and cannabinoids are present. Desirable aspects of a plant vary greatly from person to person, so it’s essential to get the right plant to the right person in order to maintain the customer’s trust and patronage.

An effective way to achieve this is to ask questions that will help you guide the customer to the most beneficial strain. Fashionable strains are fine, but they come and go. The long-term buyer is often looking for consistent and reliable strains to purchase over time.

Create timeline

Once you’ve determined the customer's needs, you’re next step is to establish a timeline. If you are reactive to trends, this is the part of the plan that’s most dangerous. A plant that is trendy today can fall out of popularity a few months later. Proactively determining what your customer desires will significantly improve your success, as you can create a timeline for getting them what they want and eliminate the guesswork.

Choose to reserve or customize

Next you must decide whether to reserve some space in a harvest or to customize an order. Both options offer benefits that prove useful for savvy buyers. A reserve batch is excellent for securing that desirable harvest, and usually requires a deposit and letter of intent to lock in your purchase. This is especially useful for startups still figuring out how much product they’ll need.

Sometimes more flexibility is required, which is where a customized harvest shines. In a customized harvest, the farmer plants whatever you request, to the best of their ability. This allows you to select what you want from a variety of plants for harvest, ultimately diversifying your yields and improving choice and quality.

In the end, both options will help you and the customer find quality harvests that fit your mutual needs.

 

Microdosing Cannabis - Can it help anxiety?

I never sought after cannabis as a teenager. Unlike most of my peers, I found that cannabis made my already anxiety-ridden thoughts race faster, and ramped up my paranoia to the point that I was convinced everyone around me was judging me in some harsh and irrational way.

In other words, cannabis rarely provided the pleasant and relaxing feeling that left others floating in euphoria.

Don’t get me wrong, I was by no means averse to an altered state of mind. I spent several years partying and using opiates like every day was my last. Fortunately I pulled myself out of the addiction cycle and was sober -- stone cold sober -- for more than a decade.

However, after countless attempts at yoga, meditation, therapy, and every single nervous system tincture sold at Whole Foods, I realized that the anxiety I had long suffered from could not be eased. That’s when I decided to reintroduce cannabis into my life, in the form of microdosing.

Microdosing refers to small, incremental doses of flower, tinctures, edibles or whatever cannabis-based product you desire. My first experience with microdosing was in a joint circle, where I took a tiny puff of flower and and quickly scooted away from the rotation. My friends teased me and said that I was fake smoking, but I didn’t care. My racing thoughts dissipated and I was able to be in the moment. Just one tiny puff was perfect for me. I was in control, and my mind was clear.

Thus began my quest to find the ideal microdose for my body and mind.

For me, one of the most exciting side effects of the legalization of cannabis has been the effort by companies to make consistent cannabis products. What does this have to do with microdosing? It means that companies are now making edibles that are measured carefully for consistency. Instead of trying to take the perfect hit, we can now just pop a 5 milligram perfect dose and know precisely what we’re getting. It takes all the guesswork out of ingesting cannabis, and it’s significantly easier to find your perfect dose.

Think of it this way: When buying a pack of beer or a bottle of wine, the alcohol content listed on the product helps someone determine whether that drink is right for them. It’s really no different when it comes to modern day cannabis products. For anyone looking to microdose cannabis, controlling the amount of CBD or THC is critical.

Much of the anxiety people experience from cannabis is due to ingesting too large of a dose. In some respects, this has led to a dramatic increase in the practice of microdosing over the last few years. Taking a small controlled amount of cannabis allows the user to get the same experience each time they dose. This also applies to medicinal users that want to use just enough cannabis to get the desired effects.

Microdosing has also become a popular option among cannabis newbies and even longtime aficionados. Longtime users know what they want, and consistency of cannabis is essential. People new to cannabis are interested in microdosing because it’s like drinking a glass of wine. A fun little taste or a quick band-aid depending on the kind of cannabis product they try.

Microdosing gives people flexibility with their cannabis use, improves quality of life for medicinal users, and offers consistent experiences for recreational users. In the often uncertain cannabis industry, one thing is sure: The rise of vaporizers and professionally produced edibles means microdosing is here to stay.

Here are some of my favorites:

 

Not your average farmer bio

This may sound like your average “Meet Your Farmer” piece, but we promise you it’s not.

This is the story of two individuals who are going beyond the plant to educate and create awareness around how cannabis can aid in the treatment of mental disorders and the longevity of recovery from addiction through micro-dosing.

Chris Butler and Courtney Bailey entered into the cannabis industry from two very different backgrounds, but their combined skills have made for a uniquely talented team. Courtney climbed the ranks in the business world, most recently serving as the chief operating officer for an international market research company. Chris pursued his passion for the arts, carving out a successful career as a cinematographer for motion pictures.

While they excelled professionally, they both bore witness to the dark side of addiction and longed for something different. Chris watched as a bevy of talented colleagues and close friends succumbed to opioid abuse, and he eventually battled opiate dependence himself. Courtney also stumbled into opiate dependence in her youth after addiction rocked her hometown.

But unlike the millions of souls who’ve lost the battle of addiction, Chris and Courtney pulled through and found recovery. In Chris’ case, CBD-rich cultivars of cannabis aided in his initial break from dependence and lit the spark for how alternative treatments could help others in a similar pursuit of long-term recovery.

It’s now been nearly two decades since Chris left Hollywood and began his study of medicinal cannabis. Over time, Chris bought several properties in Northern California and became a contracted cultivator of CBD-rich cultivars for Bay Area retailers. Meanwhile, at ten years of sobriety, Courtney discovered the benefits of using cannabis and micro-doses of psychedelics to manage anxiety and aid in her continued long-term recovery.

The paths of Chris and Courtney merged at the wedding of a mutual friend. They quickly realized they shared remarkably common experiences, passion and drive, and it wasn’t long before they became business partners, fell in love and got married.

As a couple, Chris and Courtney have charted a course of cannabis cultivation that weaves together art, ecology, and business acumen.

“It’s not easy being a cultivator, but it is worthwhile,” said Courtney. “We know that we are delivering a product that helps people, and every day we are tackling the challenges of designing, building, complying and scaling operations in this newly regulated market while maintaining our craftsmanship.”

Together Chris and Courtney founded Giving Tree Farms and Hive Mendocino Cooperative. They have become vocal advocates for the small farmer cooperative movement and continue to work on innovative ways to offer craft a scale. They’re also members of the California Growers Association, Mendocino Cannabis Industry Association, Americans for Safe and the ACLU of Northern California.

Chris and Courtney are also proponents of non-traditional uses of cannabis, focusing on less familiar cannabinoids such as THC-V, CBN and CBC as well as focusing more on the terpene profiles and less on the THC potency.

“For too long, cannabis consumption has been about finding the highest THC percentage in the flower, but we don’t think that’s the point we should be striving for,” said Chris. “At Giving Tree Farms, we cultivate high-quality flowers with diverse terpene profiles, so people can find the one that fits their mood, lifestyle and need. That means the flowers we produce are versatile in effect and designed with the low-dose consumer in mind.”

If you’d like to keep up with Chris and Courtney, you can find them on Twitter @FarmsGivingTree and Instagram @Giving.Tree.Farms, and on the Web at givingtreefarms.org. For suggestions and referrals to non-profits supporting addiction research, contact Courtney@givingtreefarms.org.

Cannabis Flower Review by Brian Applegarth [Pineapple Magazine]

Cannabis Flower Review by Brian Applegarth [Pineapple Magazine]

This flower has been referred to as “summer in a bottle”. An incredibly bright inviting citrus aroma and earthy sweet tangerine taste. Tangie Key Lime pairs well with Sunday morning chores or a live music event. Energy, euphoria with the ability to accomplish tasks. Recommended for the functional daytime micro-doser.

CDFA Issues Temporary Cultivation License to Giving Tree Farms

SACRAMENTO, Cali. (Giving Tree Farms) Jan. 1, 2018 - CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing within the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has issued two temporary cultivation licenses valid for 120 days to Giving Tree Farms, Inc. The licenses are under the Medical and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (“MAUCRSA”), cannabis in California which will be regulated by various state agencies.

The agency approved license #TML18-0002978 and #TAL18-0002672 to allow operations within the Medical or Adult Use market. 

Giving Tree Farms is currently seeking distributor, manufacturer and retailer partners. Contact sales@givingtreefarms.org to reserve your next batch in the 2018 harvest. 

Giving Tree Farms and Mendocino Generations at Emerald Cup

SANTA ROSA, Cali. (Giving Tree Farms) Dec. 9, 2017 - The Emerald Cup has become known as the annual destination and showplace for Northern California organic and sustainable products. It conveniently takes place well past harvest. 

The Sungrown Experience pavilion is representative of nearly 100 traditional cannabis farmers. The sponsors joined forces at the #EmeraldCup2017 to celebrate the rich heritage of sun-grown cannabis in California! Mendocino Generations as well Giving Tree Farms can be found in the pavilion. 

Come to the booth and check out the best of harvest from our fellow collective farmers at Fire Flower Farms, Sweet Sisters Family Farm, Frost Flower Farms, River Txai, UV Organics, and many more. 

Stronger together continues to be our motto! 

Giving Tree Farms Featured in California Farmer’s Showcase Best of Harvest Box

PRESS RELEASE

MENDOCINO, Calif., Nov. 18, 2017 – Giving Tree Farms, a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association and California Growers Association, has been chosen for the second year in a row as one of 28 cultivators chosen to be featured in Natural Cannabis Company’s new California Farmer’s Showcase Best of Harvest Box. 

The limited-edition Best of Harvest Box includes 28 grams of cannabis from 28 different small farms located throughout Northern California. Included in this collection is Giving Tree Farms’ sungrown cross between Cotton Candy and Shiskaberry, cultivated in a living soil organisms (LSO) environment which produces the maximum genetic potential within the plant.

As with all of Giving Tree Farms’ products, all strains are cared for using only OMRI-listed nutrients and conscientious water conservation methods. 

"We are honored Natural Cannabis included our sungrown strain in the Best of Harvest Box. Our primary focus is on cultivating a well-rounded flower. Our breeding and cultivation efforts strive to release the full genetic potential of the cannabis plant," said Chris Butler, president of Giving Tree Farms, based in the Anderson Valley appellation of Mendocino County, Cali. "At Giving Tree, we believe that the quality of cannabis is beyond the percentage of THC found in the flower."

Butler adds that there's increasing consensus within the field of cannabis research that the benefits of cannabis derived from various cannabinoids working in tandem, known as the "entourage effect," offer a more robust experience. The percentage of THC with the cannabis flower is still widely considered the gold standard of the determining the value. Giving Tree Farms’ chooses to look further than this one indicator of quality. 

The limited-edition California Farmer’s Showcase Best of Harvest Box is available beginning on Nov. 12. 

The California Farmer’s Showcase Best of Harvest Box retails for $190 and will be available at all three Natural Cannabis Company Northern California locations: Oakland Organics, Oakland; OrganiCann, Santa Rosa; and MendoCann, Hopland. 

"The wine industry has their events around harvest and so do we," said Dona Frank, founder and owner of Natural Cannabis Company. "Small farms tend to get overlooked at all these cup events, especially now that so many are tied to corporate interests. We work exclusively with small farms, so we want to recognize their contributions. These farms are growing some of the best cannabis in the world."

A full list of farmers and their products featured in the California Farmer’s Showcase Best of Harvest Box is available online

About Chris Butler
Chris Butler is president of Giving Tree Farms, based out of Mendocino County, California, and Newcleus Nurseries, based out of Portland. He has been a grower in the Emerald Triangle for more than 10 years, initially specializing in high-CBD strains such as ACDC, Harlequin and Canna-Tsu. In 2011, Butler became a contracted cultivator for Harborside Health Center in Oakland, California. 

Butler graduated from Colorado University at Boulder in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in German History. After graduation, he moved to Southern California where he worked in the motion picture industry as a director of photography for movies and commercials, earning awards from the Seattle Film Festival and the Sonoma Film Festival. Butler transitioned to the cannabis industry after discovering its medicinal benefits could help those struggling with addiction. 

About Giving Tree Farms
Giving Tree Farms, based out of Mendocino County, California, has operated farms in Northern California for nearly a decade and is locally permitted in Mendocino County under the 9.31 Ordinance. The company specializes in producing outdoor and greenhouse cultivated strains in a living soil organisms (LSO) environment. All of Giving Tree Farms’ products are lab-tested, locally grown, and produced in small batches. Giving Tree Farms is Clean Green Certified under the 9.31 program and uses CW Analytics for potency, pesticide and microbial testing. Giving Tree Farms has been a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association since 2014, and is also a member of the California Growers Association and the California Cannabis Industry Association. 

For more information, please contact: Giving Tree Farms' via
press@givingtreefarms.org.

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