To gain an insider perspective, I spoke with Humboldt native and operator of Humboldt’s Finest, a collective of multi-generational farmers from the Humboldt area, Joey Shepp. Born and bred in the area, he’s seen the community rise from persecution to the loving and open community it is today.
I asked Shepp what makes Humboldt County the perfect place for cannabis. He replied: “First off, one [thing] that people may not [consider] is the multi-generational farming culture, and the wisdom that has emerged. So at this point we’re on the second, sometimes third generation of farmers who have been farming in the region for a long time. That history is really important.”
Shepp also cited Humboldt’s climate, landscape and remote location as some of the major elements in the growth of cannabis culture in the county. These days, cannabis growers are coming out of the woodwork, joining together to prepare for legalization.
Shepp continued: “Humboldt’s Finest started as local. Multi-generational farmers were beginning to get concerned about the future of Humboldt farmers, with legalization coming and the foresight that it would inevitably bring competition, and also posers trying to pose as authentic Humboldt. There’s a need for an authentic Humboldt brand. And that was really what drove this sort of—we went through hard times in Humboldt, and if we don’t own our heritage, big business is gonna come in and claim it.”
And the heritage of Humboldt County is certainly something that needs to be preserved. Beyond the story of cannabis culture, there is the story of the everyday in Humboldt.
“Well, in Humboldt we have this thing called ‘Humboldt Time,’” Shepp explains. “You’ve heard of Hawaii time? Humboldt Time is basically any time during the same day. So if someone is like, ‘I’ll see you Sunday,’ you won’t know if [that’s supposed to be] 10am or 4pm; people in Humboldt live sort of outside of time, sort of independent, without schedules, and that sort of flexibility with time is really interesting.”
Perhaps Humboldt Time exists because of the county’s vast natural beauty. How could one keep a schedule with the lure of river swimming, forest hiking and harvest-time joint circles held in the towering redwoods? The natural world plays an integral part of the overall attitude in Humboldt, and collectives such as Humboldt’s Finest are making strides in sustainable growing practices. Instead of indoor grows, Humboldt’s Finest has sun-grown and greenhouse grows, thereby reducing their energy consumption.
They utilize cover crops, such as legumes, that are nitrogen-fixing. In other words, these plants supply much-needed nitrogen to the soil, while simultaneously preventing erosion and river runoff. The rivers and streams are an important ecosystem, and Humboldt’s Finest uses a technique they call “rain-grown,” to preserve water. They catch rainfall in tanks and ponds to draw from in the rainy season, instead of taking from the land.
Humboldt County has come a long way socially, economically and environmentally in the last fifty years. This unique community, dedicated to their land and medicine, has led the world in cannabis cultivation and culture.
As Shepp puts it: “All of those things led to Humboldt county to become the perfect nexus for cannabis cultivation. You can go to Europe and say you’re from Humboldt County, and people grin and know what that means.”
Humboldt County is a unique gem among cannabis culture, and maybe we could all take a leaf out of their book—enjoy nature, enjoy our plant and set our watches to Humboldt Time.