Sometimes, we all feel that the time has come to move on, to push the limits, to graduate to the next level. That’s what it felt like on July 16, at the inaugural Mendocino Craft Farmers Auction. The time had finally come to honor the world class legacy and craft cannabis farmers in this remote part of Northern California, while at the same time giving back to the community. The purpose of the auction was to raise money for the Redwood Community Services Crisis Hotline Program while also raising consciousness about the premium cannabis grown in this region. It was an ideal way for cannabis and community to come together and help one another.
For decades, clandestine growers were hidden in the hills of Mendocino County. That’s when weed sold for $4,000 per pound and lots of money in the county was spent on things like buying new trucks and building new homes. Upon legalization, many of us chose to take the leap into the regulated market, remaining faithful that it would recognize the value of pure sungrown flowers from the Emerald Triangle. However, it has been an uphill battle and many small farmers have perished from the struggle to survive.
Struggling in Style
While the vision of a cannabis auction was formed several years ago, it has taken this long to realize that even if we must struggle, we can do it in style. And even if we aren’t getting rich as craft farmers, we still can contribute to local causes. It’s a way to say thanks for all the great years when we did profit from living off the land in this blessed county which produces such top-grade cannabis flowers. If Napa County can celebrate its terroir, which is ideal for world class wines, so can Mendocino growers tout the cannabis cultivated in their county.
It all started when Jim Roberts and Brian Atkinson of the cannabis brand Bohemian Chemist offered the ideal venue: The Brambles, an event center under the Redwoods, located in the picturesque Anderson Valley in southern Mendocino County. After several months of planning—which included finding the perfect caterer, an amazing fast-talking auctioneer, plus collecting a vast array of items to be auctioned—the vision became clear. This would be a gathering like none ever seen before in Mendocino. This was not a rodeo, not a music festival and not a picnic at the beach. This was a classy affair. It was “mendo chic,” as we like to call it.
A “Mendo Chic” Celebration
It was a warm summer night for the first Mendocino Craft Farmers Auction. The evening began with appetizers and local wines served while guests perused the several tables displaying both silent and live auction items. Ganjier-In-Training Isabella De Chard, the “Joint Girl,” wandered through the crowd with a tray of nicely rolled joints and matches, making sure everyone was well-lit. As guests made their way to the tables for supper, they were offered small sips of HVY, the perfect cannabis tincture aperitif, which lifted the whole group to another level. A lively yet leisurely supper ensued with festivities conducted by Michael Katz, the Executive Director of the Mendocino Cannabis Alliance.
During dessert, Sarah Livingston, the Director of Crisis Response at Redwood Community Services, spoke briefly about the charity that would be receiving the night’s proceeds and how the guest donations would be used.
“We take what was an unfortunate event or experience for these people and then turn it into an opportunity for them,” Livingston said. “Events like this make these opportunities possible.”
Live Auction Highlights
At last, the live auction began, and it was lively indeed. The highest bidders (in more ways than one) were often well rewarded for their generosity. Upon the guidance of top cannabis attorney Omar Figueroa, we found a way to do this within the legal parameters. After the fortunate bidders paid for their items, they were directed to a table where they discovered that their generosity was matched by growers who shared from their Private Reserve, meaning flowers from their personal gardens. Such a sweet surprise!
“To be amongst such impressive growers, and such an elevated energy was truly a privilege. The Brambles was full of inspiration and love tonight,” said musician and artist Bob Bralove.
Indeed, many of the county’s premiere cultivators attended, including several winners in the California State Fair and Emerald Cup Awards ceremonies. Some of the farms represented included Lost Paradise Organics, First Cut Farms, Emerald Spirit Botanicals, Swami Select, Martyjuana and Happy Day Farms. Several donated farm visits and tours, which were won by lucky bidders at the auction. Shauna and Mike Harden of Sonoma Hills Farm, for example, came up from Sonoma County to enjoy the festivities and donated a generous luncheon for 10 at their beautiful farm.
Certified Ganjier Justin Hoegenauer observed the variety of attendees, from mountain growers to city cannaoisseurs, and commented, ”It’s a community here of legends who have grown the plant and respected the environment for a long time. Everyone deserves the opportunity to experience sungrown cannabis.”
The evening wrapped up with DJ Mo Magic—also a longtime cultivator—getting everyone up and dancing under the stars. Many stayed right on site in the luxurious hotel rooms and some even chose to camp at the next-door campground. “Omar and I set up our tents and slept under the Redwoods rather than risk a dark and windy drive back to Sonoma County. I woke up this morning refreshed and bathed in the sounds and scents of the forest,” said attorney Lauren Mendelsohn.
If you are feeling major FOMO right about now, know this was just the first Mendocino Craft Farmers Auction. It was way too much fun not to repeat. We want to welcome more adventurous cannabis enthusiasts to experience the Emerald Triangle in style, while giving back to those in need. Cannabis with a cause is a beautiful thing.