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MJ Lifestyle Issue 01 Digital

GROW SISTER GROW SIOBHAN

GROW SISTER GROW SIOBHAN DANGER DARWISH SECOND GENERATION FARMER FOUNDER OF GROW SISTERS TELLS IT LIKE IT IS The Grow Sisters’ mission is to amplify sustainable growing practices while revealing and celebrating the culture of the northern California Cannabis community. Founded by me, Siobhan Danger Darwish and with the help of my sister Sloan Reed, to promote our family farm, Blessed Coast Farms. Though we were the first permitted Cannabis farm in California, we had no marketing budget, so we got brave and creative, filming videos and posting them on YouTube—radical moves for formerly outlaw farmers! Since then we have grown into a sisterhood of wise women who all have the same vision of creating sustainable value through our farming and business practices. Collectively we do not support extractive farming and business practices that harm the planet and squeeze people while enriching a few. We know from research and experience that longterm solutions are regenerative, gentle on the planet and supportive of people….and bonus: result in the highest quality cannabis in the process. We are from The Emerald Triangle - so called for the hills of green forests that make up much of Northern California; and for the Cannabis culture which has thrived there since the early ‘60s. The narrow roads, hours of travel from big cities and protection of the trees were ideal for the outlaws with hippie hearts who came to farm an illegal medicine. They came, like my father, to create their own communities, risking imprisonment, loss of property and death—with the conviction that cannabis was more important than the unjust laws with which they were persecuted. The communities we renegades created ran by different rules than the ‘straight’ world—here in the Wild West business was conducted with dirt road handshakes, slang and big trucks. We stayed behind the curtain, and kept out of sight—developing our culture by growing food and medicinal gardens, raising our families on the hill and creating unique art and music. As a second generation grower, the War on Drugs was the war on us: on my parents, my friends and neighbors and myself. Our unique collective ethos required self-sufficiency and we survived through paranoia. Few understand that multiple generations of Cannabis cultivators live with PTSD as a consequence of continuing to grow a medicinal plant facing constant risk of persecution and attack. These farmers also have the greatest depth of knowledge on growing sustainable, outdoor, organic plants - this is the heritage that Grow Sisters celebrates. Medicinal and black-market Cannabis growing exploded again in The Emerald Triangle with the resounding passage of California Proposition 215 in 1996. Written and championed by Dennis Peron in response to the raging AIDS epidemic, this proposition legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in California. This made California the first place in the world to challenge Cannabis’ worldwide prohibition. In 2015 Gov Jerry Brown signed into effect the first Cannabis regulations and created a path to permitting. In Nov. 2017, voters passed Prop 64, expanding the Cannabis market to non-medical consumers. All us outlaws got a good case of whiplash with these intense directional changes! We were faced with two risky options: stay the course in the ‘underground’ market, or make the expensive, stressful, and public choice of legalizing our farm. In our community some talked of waiting for others to navigate the minefield of change before themselves coming out of the shadows. As a family we choose to go legal because we saw an opportunity that few ever have, to be the change and co-create the new legal market (differentiating ourselves from The Black Market.) Trailblazers that we are, we proudly obtained the first commercial Cannabis cultivation permit in California in June of 2016, for our farm in Humboldt County. Once we had our cultivation permit we were overwhelmed by the many expected and unexpected financial challenges of staying permitted: County and State application fees, County and State taxes, professional service costs, implementing the Track and Trace program, and on and on. We quickly realized that we needed to build a brand to keep our business flowing, but as a self-funded team on a shoestring budget, Blessed Coast Farms had no line item for Marketing. Plus, Sloan was new to farming in 2017 having joined me in California from Utah, so we combined our need and our opportunity: Educational videos on cutting edge sustainable growing, with a cultural peek behind The Redwood Curtain —the birth of the Grow Sisters. Our YouTube videos explore the grow season of 2017 on Blessed Coast Farms, from seed to harvest. Topics range from hands-on cultivation tips to product education. After hiding our entire lives, we love joining the world of social media where we can normalize Cannabis and our lifestyle. ISSUE 01 64

65 @MJLIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY BY NATASHA RICKE

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