In a how-to grow guide that covers all the basics of outdoor cannabis cultivation, Madrone Stewart’s “Feminist Weed Farmer” sets itself apart from other grow books by remembering to provide its readers with heartfelt words of encouragement along the way. If you follow the steps Stewart lays out in her book, the author believes that “you, dear reader, can grow the dankest, stickiest, tastiest, loudest, highest-vibration cannabis on the planet.”
Throughout the book, practical tips on everything from starting seeds to processing your harvest are thoughtfully framed by the author’s philosophy of growing and consuming cannabis with integrity.
While the book is helpful for all new growers, Stewart has women, queer folks and people of color in mind when she writes that “growing your own weed in your backyard, just like growing your own veggies, can be a radical act that frees you from the cycle of spending way too much money at your dispensary.”
As a backyard home grower myself, I can attest to the fact that the sense of pride that comes along with a successful harvest is deeply rewarding.
When asked what inspired her to write the book, Stewart said it was “the empowerment of all people, especially when it comes to the access of information that can transform our lives in wholesome ways.”
“This is rooted in my belief that all people have the right to thrive and we cannot thrive without access to the skills to improve our lives, which includes the skillful use and cultivation of plant medicine,” she said.
In the book’s introduction, Stewart lays out more reasons why growing your own cannabis crop can be profoundly liberating: the current industry is male-dominated, market-driven and generally not in line with feminist, environmentalist or social justice values. As a conscious consumer, there isn’t yet a reliable way to know where or how your cannabis was produced.
“What a sad twist that this plant that has the potential to cure cancer and when grown, pumped and sprayed with chemicals, ends up being cancer-causing,” Stewart said, adding that she strongly believes your best chance to know that your weed was produced in a sustainable and ethical way is to grow your own.
Stewart wrote the book after years of working on farms in Humboldt County. “Feminist Weed Farmer” is broken up into five main parts: The Plant Life Cycle, Creating a Good Growing Environment, Protecting Your Plants, Harvesting Your Medicine and Hash Making. Some of the tips offered in the conclusion, “Twenty Ideas for Enriching Your Cannabis Growing Experience,” stem from Stewart’s background in Zen Buddhism, such as “meditate and chant in your garden” and “work mindfully, in silence.” Other tips are gentle reminders not to take the whole thing too seriously: “Relax and have fun. Do not let this project stress you out.”
“I am a big fan of focusing your attention on your experience and that fits with Zen ways of thinking,” Stewart said. “When it comes to farming, I encourage folks to make the experience enjoyable, stimulating and empowering.”
The book also includes ideas for what to do with your flowers after harvest, utilizing a “whole-plant” approach — making hash from your trim, using stems and stalks as kindling when making a fire and making your own coconut oil-based lube.
Ultimately, “Feminist Weed Farmer” is much more than just a how-to grow guide, it is a call to action to decentralize and diversify the industry. Stewart sees the current power shift in the industry from small-business owners to big business as “depressing” and devastating to communities in the Emerald Triangle whose economies depend on cannabis. Her vision is of a “diverse industry where people embrace the principles of compassion, collaboration, sensitivity to diversity and respect for the earth and the medicine that she shares with us would stand as a model for all other industries.” This includes other “psychedelic industries to come.”
She believes that women, queer folks and people of color — those who are most often excluded from the cannabis industry — will lead the way in making this vision into a reality and feels that process is in itself as a feminist act. For Stewart, gender equality in cannabis doesn’t look like more women becoming CEOs of canna-businesses, rather, she imagines a more communal, DIY, self-sufficient approach.
“I want weed, kale, sunflowers and Echinacea cultivated in every backyard, terrace and rooftop,” she said. “I would love for the corporate-controlled cannabis farms to fail and I would love to see women and genderqueer cultivators put them out of business. This will only happen if we all roll up our sleeves and sow our own seeds of insight, freedom, beauty and dignity.”
Stewart envisions a world where this powerful plant medicine is shared amongst friends and used to shift perspectives, expand consciousness, inspire creativity and help us tune into our true selves — a future where cannabis is abundant and accessible to all.
TELL US, have you read “Feminist Weed Farmer”?
Originally published in Issue 34 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE