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Festival Celebrates Best of 2016 Light Dep Harvest

Light Dep Harvest
High Mountain Holistics’ Award-winning Durban Poison/Photos by Caitlin Podiak

Industry Events

Festival Celebrates Best of 2016 Light Dep Harvest

On a sunny Sunday afternoon in the forested hills above Santa Cruz, California, the local cannabis community gathered for the third annual Cali Dep Fest.

This private invitational event strictly featured strains grown via light dep, a cultivation method in which light deprivation is used to force cannabis plants to flower early. The initial inspiration for Cali Dep Fest came from the Emerald Cup, which has been celebrating organic sungrown cannabis since 2003. Brett Miller hosted the inaugural Cali Dep Fest in 2014 in order to showcase what he calls “another form of sungrown.” This technique requires more effort than growing indoors, says Miller, but “light dep is way more sustainable,” and the resulting flowers are “as good if not better.”

Light Dep Cannabis Now MagazineEntries in the 2016 Cali Dep Fest.

Some of the advantages of a light dep harvest, according to Cannabis Now’s own Rick Pfrommer, include enabling growers to better control their environment as well as gain an additional harvest. This method of growing involves pulling tarps over outdoor grows to control the plants exposure to light.

In stark contrast to bustling industry events crowded with eager capitalists, Cali Dep Fest was a refreshingly low-key, homegrown, grassroots, dirty hippie kind of scene. The vibe was casual and friendly, with an emphasis on sharing rather than selling. Familiar faces from as far away as northern Humboldt made the long drive to attend this intimate affair.

Pipes Cannabis Now Magazine Pipes by Santa Cruz Glass.

Before the winners were declared, speakers addressed topics ranging from rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling systems to getting involved in the development of local regulations. It was twilight by the time Miller took the microphone to announce the winners. Every entry was lab tested for pesticides and mold as well as cannabinoids and terpenes, and entrants were asked to provide 60-70 grams along with a requested $250 donation to cover the cost of testing and overhead. Perhaps as a result of these requirements, there were only 21 entries in this year’s competition. All 21 entries were evaluated on appearance, aroma, flavor, and effect by patients, “expert cannabis enthusiasts,” and the participants themselves.

Candyland, grown in living soil from a clone purchased at Harborside Health Center by a farm preferring to remain anonymous, was the favorite of ten indica-dominant submissions. The best of six sativas and sativa-dominant hybrids was High Mountain Holistics’ Durban Poison. Tahoe OG, another Harborside clone, was the winner in a third category consisting of five OG, Chem, and Diesel strains.

Light dep Cannabis NowSolar bong hits.

As darkness fell, the congenial crowd warmly supported the winners, who were all gracious and humble in their victory. With legalization, regulation, and commercialization on the horizon, the sincerity and authenticity on display at Cali Dep Fest transformed this mellow backyard confab into a beacon of hope for the future of cannabis in California.

Have you ever smoked marijuana grown via light dep?

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