Indoor, outdoor, greenhouse or a combination: Outdoor with some greenhouse
Can you share a bit of your background and how you and your company got to the present day?
I visited Humboldt in the fall of 2007, when I met a jazz drummer who became my friend, mentor and subject of a documentary I produced and directed called “Joani Queen of the Paradiddle.” When Joani and her partner Marion transitioned off the hill, I bought their property and have built it into a regenerative sungrown cannabis farm where we cultivate high-CBD, balanced ratio and uplifting THC cultivars. Joani named the property Serendipity, which I carried into a medical collective, Serendipity Collective. Serendipity Collective became Moon Made Farms in 2018. Moon Made Farms acknowledges the feminine essence in the most powerful plant on the planet, which expresses its full potential in the female form.
What tool or software in your cultivation space can you not live without?
It’s a three-way split between automated irrigation, sight enhancement devices (I love loupes and microscopes) and soil samplers. They’re all just so good.
What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your business in the last six months?
A five-gallon plastic bucket opener—they cost about five bucks. We reuse these buckets endlessly for storage and fermenting. They’re a must-have in the hills to protect valuable soil amendments and compost tea inputs.
What cultivation technique are you most interested in right now, and what are you actively studying (the most)?
We are focused on connecting with what makes this land unique and utilizing inputs from the land in closed loop systems. It’s not so much about learning new ways as unlearning new ways and embracing old ways.
For the last few years, we have concentrated on soil health, fertility and soil building. This has involved the use of compost teas made in our own brewers, and plant extracts made from accumulators (borage willow, comfrey), terpene teas made from flowers, herbs, and trees that we grow right here on the farm. Recently, we have been investigating Korean Natural Farming methods and are very excited about introducing some of those methods into our seasonal plan.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven grower about to enter the legal, regulated industry? What advice should they ignore?
Have a plan and know it will change. Get good help. Find someone to help you with the labyrinth of bureaucracy that you will encounter. The legal regulated market is complex, confusing and constantly changing. Almost all industries are regulated to some degree—agriculture is no different—but cannabis is an animal unto itself. The regulations around cannabis from cultivation to retail are still in flux—and daunting. Whether it is a qualified consultant, in-house compliance officer or someone on your team who has the time and motivation to devote to this kind of admin, this is an extremely time-consuming task.
Ignore the people that say that it is too late, or success cannot be achieved. It will not be easy, you will fail at things, you will do it again [and] you will not have a day off for months on end. But there is nothing like standing in your garden in the late-fall sun surrounded by plants in full bloom knowing that you are trying your damnedest to make it work and make the world a better place and every day is a beautiful day.
How do you deal with burnout?
CBD, breathe deep, drink water. Commune with people. Meditate, if only for 10 minutes. Just do it. Share meals and have a BBQ. We consider those who came before you and those who will be the next in line. We have the incredible privilege of experiencing life on Earth, and if the worst thing that is happening is a bit of burnout, consider that a blessing. We happen to be alive during a time when a lot of advocates, educators and people who love this plant have sacrificed their life energy to afford us with this burnout. There are thousands of people annually arrested and incarcerated for possession of this plant, while we have the luxury of experiencing burnout. So, we remind ourselves to stay open, be in the moment [and] express gratitude for all that we have.
How do you motivate your employees/team?
Everyone that has contributed to Moon Made Farms over the years has lived and worked in the hills because they want to be in this incredibly beautiful place collaborating in cultivating this amazing plant. The sunrise, sunset and stars at night motivate the crew. The fresh air, fresh water, space, freedom, quality of light and quiet satisfy our senses and bring great satisfaction to this work. Seeing this plant erupt from a seed to an exquisite diva is a huge motivation. To stand in the garden in the fall at dawn, surrounded by the scent of the ascension of spirit through the culmination of eight months of collaborative guidance of the plants in nature—that feels pretty damn good.
On occasion, there’s a trip to Heartwood Mountain Sanctuary, [where] we have a BBQ, we go to Mountain Exchange and see our community. Maybe there’s an event at the Harris store. We’re all here to serve this plant, [and] we’re devoted and in awe of her beauty and power. And every now and then we could all use a break!
What keeps you awake at night?
The stress that takes one hundred forms. The demands of owning and operating an independent farm in the heart of the Emerald Triangle during these rapidly shifting times. The fear that I will not be able to make it through compliance with the ever-changing regulations. Managing the cost of entry. Staring the annual budget in the eye while considering shrinking margins. The desire to do better than I’m doing every single day. The pressure to support those around me, to encourage them to keep the faith. And still, I often wake up in the middle of the night because of a sound, a feeling, a sense that the plants need something, a broken water line. Once in a while, the frog orchestra in the pond gets really loud, the rain beats down [and] the wind howls through the valley below. I stay up thinking about the heritage of this place and memories on this land, the back-to-the-landers who will not make it through this transition.
What helps you sleep at night?
CBD, plant medicine, breathwork, writing, exhausting my mind from the day. Looking at the night sky, imagining, counting my blessings. Reading about scientific approaches to farming and trying to set visuals to the concepts. Setting intentions, doing long-range visualizations. Demographic visualizations, mental dimensional imaging.
Editor's Note: This interview has been edited for style, length and clarity.
Photos courtesy of Tina Gordon