You can learn a lot about a person from what you see on their bookshelf. When I was younger, I stocked my bookshelves with biographies, drawn to stories of amazing lives, especially rebels and, among the rebels, drug smugglers. My 20-year-old self’s bookshelf was the usual: Bruce Lee, Ed Rosenthal, Jorge Cervantes, and a few books about smugglers flying loads from South America and shipping massive cargo across the seas. But I could never find any books about the lives and experiences of cannabis growers. Law enforcement was harsh in the ‘90s during the Clinton era and growers had everything to lose. Their stories could not be told.
A lot of people may not realize that to be a cannabis grower, manufacturer, distributor, or retailer used be very risky and dangerous in many places, including Northern California, and continues to be for some. Nowadays, our industry is turning towards corporate or craft cannabis into a race to the bottom, and market share is largely based on presentation and professionalism, rather than authenticity and quality.
Sadly, some of the very best growers – pioneers who’ve lived lives of badass risk, adventure, and endurance – are easily overlooked. This series is my opportunity to have some fun, share some of their stories, and hope to encourage consumers to really think about who and where you want your cannabis to come from, and why and what will give you the best experience every time you consume cannabis.
For the first farmer in this series, I wanted to share a story of optimism and positivity. Roots and loyalty. Naturality, surrounded by sustainable beauty, a place to balance wellness and conciseness. We produce the female cannabis plant for her healing nature. It is a deep connection to the feminine energy of the universe. That connection between female energy is a bond male growers will never have. I think this is a reason many of our industries best growers have been women, and our culture has evolved carried on the backs of their hard work and dedication. Big ups to all the women of cannabis; our industry can be an example of gender equality. That is why I want to start this series featuring my neighbor Tina of Mood Made Farms.
Tina’s story began with humble beginnings like most growers. Before coming to Palo Verde, she was living in the Mission District of San Francisco. She was exploring life, deeply entrenched in the underground art and music culture. Playing drums in rock bands like Lost Goat and The Glamour Pussies, recording and touring, putting out videos like “Hot Chick Stoner BBQ”, “zines” (Stroker Magazine), making art, and living on her own terms. Her last band was a badass all female AC/DC tribute band, AC/Dshe.
When I met with her for coffee to interview her for this piece, she explained her relationship to cannabis back then was as a conduit to creative inspiration. Smoking pot helped her manage pain while recovering from a car accident. Because of the accident, couldn’t play drums, so she taught herself how to play guitar on a ’68 Gretsch. Smoking was awesome for starting songs, but terrible for finishing them. She patched many of these riffs together for create a 12-hour composition, performed from sun up to sun down as part of the 2006 fall equinox. The Rambler, a mobile sound stage that hosted this performance, has since made its way to hauling pot plants, bags of shake, and bails of straw. It’s about to become a mobile t-shirt shop for Tina’s Moon Made Apparel line.
Tina landed in Southern Humboldt thanks to her drumming. In 2007, a drummer friend, Valerie Agnew, brought Tina on a road trip up to Palo Verde. The day they arrived, she met Joani, a fellow female drummer and someone who would become very inspirational in her life and future. They became fast friends and Tina even made a documentary about her, titled “Joani, Queen of the Paradiddle.” While working on the documentary, Tina transitioned to living in Humboldt and started working on a Palo Verde Farm, Villa Paradiso. A year after moving to the hill, Joani and her partner Marion asked Tina if she wanted to buy their land, a life-changing opportunity. Tina bought the 40-acre parcel on Palo Verde with the agreement with Joani and Marion that their ashes could one day be spread and buried to rest on the property as they blend into the regeneration of nature and the farms ecosystem. Moon Made Farms is part of Tina’s commitment to their legacy.
I asked Tina about her current relationship with cannabis. She explained she uses CBD products daily to balance her wellness and consciousness, and that high THC is mostly reserved for times of vision quests of person learning and growth. After a few years of cultivating cannabis, Tina discovered that she resonates with cultivating and ingesting high and mixed-CBD cultivars. Growing strains like Harle Tsu, Canna Tsu, Ringo’s Gift, and Pennywise was a revelation.
Moon Made Farms’ main focus is in growing CBD-dominant varieties and creating health-promoting wellness products to smoke and vape, as well as tinctures and other exciting herbal infusions. They have a diversity of CBD genetics ranging from 20:1 to 1:4 ratios including Pennywise, Cannatonic, Ringo’s Gift, and Harle Tsu, among others. Tina describes Ringo’s Gift as pleasant, easy on the throat and lungs, a sweet light mint freshness, with a relaxed and inspired effect that helps balance her turbo pace.
They also grow some pretty fire THC strains such as tasty Purple Punch, Sour Tangie, Huckleberry Hill’s Huckleberries, a Moon Made original called Pineapple Wonder that Phylos could not detect any relatives to in their genome galaxy… and maybe even a few Rebel Grown strains in the mix.
She doesn’t hold back about the role of the feminine essence of cannabis. She says, “the crucial ingredient is in sticky sweet feminine seduction that hovers over the land” that promotes healing, wellness, and a shift in consciousness. For anyone who has not experienced cannabis in bloom, there’s nothing like it. These flowers are LOUD. Just being around the flowers makes you feel good.
Moon Made Farm’s flag ship and home piece is located in an oak grove at 2,100 feet elevation at the heart of the Emerald Triangle on Palo Verde. It wasn’t until she moved to Southern Humboldt that she was awakened to the power of nature. “Clean air, fresh water, stars in the sky,” she says.
Tina’s style of cultivation is about aligning with the natural forces and using all of your senses – smelling, listening, touching the soil and the plants, and becoming intuitive on a cellular level with what the plants tell you. Inspired by Lunar Farming and the moons subtle light cycles effect on plants, “It’s all about tuning in and observation,” she says. She uses land-provided inputs to build soil and to build the beds plants live in. Her plants grow in no-till soils with established humic and fungal layers from integrating native soil, oak leaf, inoculating with humus from under the trees, making compost teas from inputs growing on the land–all of this helps introduce indigenous micro-organisms into the soil. Many of the beds are made of rock and wood harvested from the land surrounding the gardens.
Her romantic and farm partner Chris says, “If you can’t bring the plants to the forest, bring the forest to the plants.” They’ve been implementing regenerative practices since before it was common, making their own compost, woodchopping their own mulch, with nine-year-old hugelkultur beds, and learning to dial in closed-loop farming. It was a stretch to evolve out of the tiny shade gardens that Joani and Marion grew during the CAMP era, but she’s left these gardens in tact as a historical marker and reminder and part of the land’s legacy.
While Tina was wary of going legal and had a general distrust of government, she just wanted to provide medicine through the plant. “This is the most powerful plant on earth, capable of helping people globally for the first time in history,” she says. She also had witnessed on the business side of things the positive creation of opportunity this plant can create. She had seen cannabis farmers work for years to save their funds to open birthing centers in India, build schools in Haiti, get surgeries, college degrees, start their own farms, and homestead projects. She believes this plant facilitates so much creativity, dreaming, and love through art and music. This plant’s potential and these experiences and desires motivated her to continue “onward.”
From San Francisco’s underground music and art scene to the Palo Verde of Southern Humboldt, to farming and business, Moon Made Farms continues to provide for people and nurture the earth. Tina says each day is challenging but inspiring. She wants to see others feel balanced, inspired, and appreciate life. Sipping my coffee on her deck listening to the birds, and taking in the diversity of the land, I mentioned how beautiful the view was. As we compared farms in the neighborhood she said, “there’s not a bad view, it doesn’t exist; everywhere you look up here is beautiful.”
Cannabis has so much to offer and its produced in so many ways by people from all walks of life. As we continue this series, my hope is these stories will inspire a fuller experience every time you smoke through a deeper understanding of the origins of our culture.