Farm-to-toke is the new smoke: Why we’re loving artisan cannabis

On a chilly winter night, dozens of cannabis enthusiasts pack into Sebastopol’s new Solful dispensary to meet seven Northern California marijuana farmers cultivating their marijuana biodynamically — a sort of beyond-organic agricultural practice that includes specific growing techniques, adherence to seasonality and sustainable practices. It’s a lot to take in, as they discuss things like soil preparations and moon cycles, but their meticulously-grown outdoor cannabis is also highly sought by cannoisseurs who are as picky about their marijuana as they are their fruits and veggies.

Welcome to a new age of pot, where consumers are as interested in how and where their marijuana is grown as the THC content. Ushering in the experience are sleek, lifestyle-focused dispensaries like Solful, where the experience is about seeing, sniffing and meeting growers who espouse land stewardship and pesticide-free farming—not simply trying to find a particular strain.

Tangie from Glentucky Farms.

Among the farmers at Solful that night were the owners of Moongazer Farms, a young couple whose Redwood Valley farm recently won the Emerald Cup’s Regenerative Farm Award. Located in Mendocino, Josh and Sandra grow just a handful of sun grown strains, including a local strain called Lemon Cake #1 that weighs in at a respectable 21 percent THC. With a bright, citrusy smell and sticky buds, the effect is a mellow, uplifted and creative high that packs a surprising punch. All of their plants are grown from seed, rather than clone, making for a more difficult and sometimes idiosyncratic result — but that’s the artisan experience.

Much like heirloom tomatoes or heritage breed animals, variance from season to season, from plant to plant and soil to soil is not only expected, but revered. No two experiences are alike, and that’s what makes it special.

And while many smokers wouldn’t be able to tell an indoor clone from an outdoor biodynamic plant, that’s not the point. The point is that as cannabis evolves in Northern California, and more small farmers get squeezed out by larger growing operations, diversity and quality can suffer.

This is just the beginning of the conversation, and we expect to see more and more farmers putting their names and brands on cannabis, espousing their growing practices and creating cult-like strains that will sell for hundreds of dollars. Aggregator companies like Flow Kana are also touting their sustainable outdoor farms, the stories and their stewardship of the land as a lifestyle brand, and we’re definitely excited to be able to know our farmers, rather than guessing at what’s in our eighths.

Lemon cake

Other great strains we found at Solful

KC36, Full Circle Farms: We love this head-up, body down outdoor flowers that’s not always easy to find. A nice creative high, but make sure to bring a pen and paper with you to the couch, cause you’ll be down for the count.

– Tangie, Glentucky Farms: We’ve been trying to track down some of Mike Benziger’s Sonoma-grown, biodynamic flower for months without luck. So when we found grams of both Tangie and GS Cookies — Benziger’s two favorites — it was a landrush to get our hands on them. Incredible citrus scent that makes Tangie such a perennial fave. Frankly, it’s one of our favorites because of both the uplifting high and scent of tangerine.

Solful, 785 Gravenstein Highway S, Sebastopol, 707-596-9040, Open daily from 11a.m. to 7p.m. Adult use.