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Stewards of the Land

California Cannabis Now Magazine
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Joint Opinions

Stewards of the Land

The land that now hosts a Mendocino County cannabis farm has a past, which should be recognized and preserved.

Without the land, we are nothing. The land, the very soil, is the heart of any farming operation and it is to be respected. While we are blessed with the privilege to grow cannabis under the full sun, it is our responsibility to do that in a way that complements that which has been here forever. We are just the current residents.

Our ranch, located in the heart of the Emerald Triangle in northern Mendocino County, probably first saw white men in 1875 when it was homesteaded by a young man who had survived the Civil War and been granted a piece of land “Out West.” It fascinates me to imagine him riding the hills and following the streams in this area until he found the perfect spot, not too far from a water source, with enough flat land to grow crops and trees to cut and build a home.

Of course I have no idea of what happened to the native members of the Wailaki Tribe who lived here before, but I assume they had already been rounded up in the late 1850s and walked over to the appropriately called Round Valley — a reservation populated by several tribes from this area. President Ulysses S. Grant formally established the Round Valley Indian Reservation in March of 1870. As one can imagine, the various tribes did not necessarily get along as they all had very different traditions, languages and beliefs. Despite this time has begun to melt them all together into one tribe, the Covelo Indian Community, and on some levels they are still sorting out differences to this day.

The purpose of the reservation was supposedly to protect the natives from the thousands of approaching settlers anxious to grab land, but realistically we all know it was to vacate the precious land so it could be occupied by white men. By the time the previous occupants of our ranch arrived in 1875, the land was free for the taking. I envision young Mr. P on his horse, riding down what must have been an Indian path well worn by thousands of years of native feet, to find this place. Or maybe he made his way up the creek to discover this lovely and rare level patch of land on the mountainside. The old timers around here say that back in the day you could practically walk across the steams on the backs of all the fish. I can only imagine the awe he must have felt coming upon such a magical place. No doubt he instantly knew this was to be his home.

Yet destiny has her own path. Mr. P must have proudly returned with his young wife and their two infant children to show them this beautiful remote site waiting for them to inhabit. I envision them building their little log cabin on a flat area between the creek and what is now the garden. That must have been a very busy spring and summer for them as they set up house in the woods and settled in to their new way of life.

However, that first winter proved to be a nasty one. Before climate change really kicked in a few years back, we used to annually experience at least one heavy snowfall when we would be snowed-in for up to 10 days. A layer of pristine whiteness up to 18” deep would cover the meadow and lay gently upon the branches of surrounding douglas fir and oak trees which tower above. Yet while we considered it a winter wonderland, it must have been a nightmare for Mr. and Mrs. P and their children.

There they were, cozy in their cabin while the snow drifted down outside, when suddenly the roof crashed in. Oh no! What tough people they must have been, to pack up a few belongings and throw them onto their horse along with themselves and the babies and head off into the deep, dark night. The long dirt road that leads out of the property to the main road above has several heavily shaded spots where the snow gets very deep and takes extra long to melt. What a challenge that must have been to plow through it on their horse, trying to keep the infants warm and dry, knowing their dream had just collapsed around them.

The P family somehow made it all the way to Santa Rosa, which I am guessing was at least a six-day journey by horse in such inclement weather. They never returned to live on the land after that, using it solely as a summer vacation get-away for the following generations. It was our good fortune to come upon it in 2003 when it went on the market, and like that lion ago young Mr. P, as soon as both Swami and I set foot on this precious soil, we knew we were home.

Now it is up to us to honor this property and the animals and plants and insects that live here. It is our responsibility to protect the original growth trees which remain in all their glory and to maintain the pristine purity of the waters in the creeks and springs. It has been a joy to bring cannabis to this sacred land, where it is blessed by the indigenous essence of the previous generations. The girls in the garden seem very happy to be here!

An elder of the Wailaki tribe, Ron Lincoln, has been out to visit and “feel” the land. His report was that this is a place where natives would gather to collect the abundant acorns and fish and wildlife. We feel their spirit here still, very strongly, and it is grounding. May we carry on with the same intentions, to protect and preserve the land for future generations. May the cannabis flowers we grow be as healing as the acorns and fish the natives collected here. May all beings be happy.

TELL US, do you know the history of your area?

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