The Clever Root

Winter / Spring 2016

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7 2 | t h e c l e v e r r o o t T he much-loved Redwood Curtain that shrouds Hum- boldt County in beauty and mystery is liing. It's not as significant as Richard Nixon's opening of China, but growers are preparing for an onslaught. Already the roads are being widened, once-inaccessible areas are easier to get to and you no longer need a helicopter to get a look at what's happening in the hills. More and more people, and businesses, are interested in what's happening in the region. Cannabis has always been the money crop here (some conservative estimates put it as a $1-billion-a-year industry, even before legalization), and as the medical marijuana industry matures and recreational-use measures make their way to the ballot, California can expect to see an increase of large compa- nies trying to cash in on the next big Green Rush. For the people who have been here for many years, some of them for decades, it's time to circle the wagons and take up the fight. But instead of taking on the big companies all by themselves, some growers have come together to form collectives such as True Humboldt, a medical marijuana association that is pooling busi- ness and marketing resources to help these historically indepen- dent operators come together for a common purpose. e advantages can be seen in lots of ways, some in the market- place and some in the fields. True Humboldt has lots of cool gear—hats and T-shirts, bumper stickers and jackets, elegant stationery and a superbly designed website. Chrystal Ortiz, True Humboldt's Executive Manager, holds down the fort at "corporate" headquarters, where grower/members come in and out, asking questions, needing guidance. ere's an undercurrent of activity that belies the dormancy of the season. Ortiz is, to put it mildly, optimistic and ready to meet the challenge in the new world of cultivation. "We're going to scale," she says excit- edly. "We're flipping the paradigm on its head and intend to compete with corporate America. All these people benefitting together, under one brand, but allowing them to build their own brand." And there are other signs of collaboration at True Humboldt, which is just over a year old. Take the "dirty divas," for example. REDWOOD CURTAIN REDWOOD REDWOOD Behind the REDWOOD REDWOOD TRUE HUMBOLDT CONNECTS CANNABIS OPERATORS FOR A PURPOSE STORY AND PHOTOS BY JOHN CURLEY Zach Whyman and Sarah Lee discuss the best soil amend- ments for his property.

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