Deep in the heart of the Emerald Triangle, a 40-acre plot of land is the home of a small regenerative farm that serves as a connection between Earth and a community of consumers eager to enjoy the benefits of its natural bounty. Welcome to Moon Made Farms.
The small cannabis cultivation operation is nestled into an oak grove in southern Humboldt County, the hub of California’s legacy marijuana industry. Tina Gordon, the steward of the land and founder of Moon Made Farms, says she realized it was a magical place when she first visited in 2007 to make a documentary film about the property’s previous owner Joani Hannan, a 1950s and ’60s drummer who blazed a trail for mid-twentieth century queer performers. After leaving behind the grit and decay of the big city, the tranquility and interconnectedness of the farm’s natural surroundings spoke to Gordon’s soul and revealed what was missing in her life.
“It shifted my consciousness and opened my eyes to the fact that we’re living on a living planet,” Gordon said. “Being from an urban area — from a city — I didn’t recognize that I was living in captivity.”
Gordon marveled at the abundance of nature she found in her new home: clean air, untreated water, a clearly visible night sky and food harvested fresh from the land. Most importantly, the secluded piece of the Emerald Triangle is where her relationship with cannabis fully blossomed.
“Once I was here, I fell in love with the plant,” she said.
A New Calling
When she first moved to Humboldt, Gordon had no intention or even interest in becoming a cannabis cultivator. But when she saw the health and vigor expressed by plants grown in healthy soil and natural sunlight, she was inspired to make herself a part of the living process. Before long, she was learning to pay attention to the quality of the soil and how to improve its fertility naturally. She ensured the other plants growing among the cannabis were beneficial companions, providing natural protection from pests and disease. And as she nurtured and developed her garden, Gordon discovered her new passion was spilling into other aspects of her life.
“When I started taking care of these plants, I started taking care of myself better,” Gordon says. “And that’s how I embrace this plant as a living being—as my teacher.”
After Hannan’s death in 2012, ownership of the property passed to Gordon, ushering in the beginnings of Moon Made Farms.
Natural Medicine Grows in the Sun
Now in her 15th year in Humboldt County, Gordon has transformed Moon Made Farms into an undeniably successful space that produces healing medicine from plants grown in natural soil and sunlight. Her cultivation practices surpass those of typical organics, eschewing the use of herbicides and pesticides while incorporating techniques that go beyond substituting inputs and build the health of the soil. And she isn’t alone. With a like-minded supply chain of suppliers, processors and retailers, Gordon works to provide natural medicine that remains at the core of Moon Made Farms.
“The mission of Moon Made Farms is to honor the most powerful plant on the planet that expresses in the female form, and that’s cannabis,” Gordon says. “And by honoring this plant, we’re participating in creating a regenerative supply chain.”
Part of that chain is Jesse Dodd, an Emerald Triangle cannabis breeder who works under the handle Bio Vortex. Dodd’s work with Gordon is a collaboration combining their deep knowledge. After discussing which traits Gordon wishes to maximize in her medicine, Dodd performs crosses likely to produce the desired qualities in the next generation of plants. By working together, they create new varietals that are bred just for Moon Made Farms. Gordon takes over from there, coaxing the new seeds to their lush and productive potential.
“I feel very happy that the seeds have a very good home at her farm,” Dodd said. “She shows them off really well. They can come to their full expression and just amazing beauty and quality in both CBD and THC varieties.”
Gordon says her journey building Moon Made Farms is ultimately an expression of her commitment to healthy living. Even before she moved from San Francisco, she had a keen interest in nutrition, exercise and pursuing a more healthful lifestyle. On the farm, that natural tendency could fully express itself. Now integral to her persona, that commitment is expressed in the therapeutic benefits of sungrown cannabis, which Gordon compares to the qualities of organic produce or grass-fed beef. In concert with full-spectrum sunlight, clean water and fresh air, Gordon cultivates healthy plants and clean medicine.
“We want to bring people something that’s pure, that’s healthy, that’s grown to the highest standards, and that’s truly an expression of this place, because we want to make people’s lives better,” Gordon said.
Looking ahead, Gordon says that supporting farmers who use sungrown, regenerative practices will not only result in clean cannabis, but also a healthier planet. With climate change bringing ever intensifying fires, floods, and other global catastrophes, farms that nurture our ecosystem rather than exploit it will take on new significance. Gordon envisions a polyculture economy in which small farms produce medicine in addition to food and other agricultural products needed by local markets.
“This is what’s going to support communities,” Gordon said. “This is what’s going to provide the public with the best possible cannabis.”
Growing healthy cannabis is only part of the picture. Cultivating a genuinely sustainable, healthy cannabis economy depends on a community of individuals and families willing to invest in their health as well as the well-being of the environment. Key to that investment, Gordon says, is a marketplace of buyers who educate themselves on the origins of their herb.
“The questions I want consumers to ask are, ‘Where is this cannabis from?’ ‘Who grew this?’ ‘How did they grow it?’” she said. “And, to get visibility into the source.”
With that transparency, all members of the supply chain, from seed producer to end user, can be empowered to cultivate a healthier planet for all.
This story was originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.
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