“Better Living Through Cannabis” is the trademark of a husband-wife, small-scale cannabis farming team who exemplify the plucky Mendocino County spirit. The duo has efficaciously transitioned from cannabis farmers to successful business consultants and legal cannabis producers.
Chiah Rodriques is the CEO and director of Mendocino Generations. Her husband, Jamie Beatty is their chief farmer. With their two partners, herbalist Anna Petty-Guthridge and her husband and chief farmer Cyril Guthridge, both of Waterdog Herb Farm, the team is bringing years of farming expertise and business savvy to fellow cannabis farmers, while producing and marketing their own line of cannabis products.
“Years ago, we entered into Mendocino County’s pilot cannabis cultivation program. Around that time, we considered opening a dispensary called Mendocino Generations,” says Rodriques. “We wanted to honor our multi-generational farmers and the many generations of cannabis strains they developed.”
The dispensary idea was tabled, but the name and the vision was not. Mendocino Generations is a collective consisting of over 20 small-scale cannabis farms. “As legalization neared, we knew small farms were in jeopardy. By uniting, we could have an advantage. We help farmers become compliant and conform to county and state regulations,” Rodriques continues.
Mendocino Generations assists with farm management, product processing, distribution models and staffing. “Some members are aging farmers,” Rodriques continues. “These are the folks who built our industry. They have a lot to offer. They lived in the shadows for decades, and now they’re trying to do it right.”
“Most farmers want to focus on gardening. They’re not interested in business development or branding. Chiah helps get them compliant. We provide farm consulting and business-related supports,” says Beatty.
“The bulk of our farmers live within the Ukiah Valley Appellation. We encourage them to follow not just organic-inspired methods, but also permaculture and biodynamic practices. We call this “Moreganic,” Rodriques smiles. “’Moreganic’ sets the bar so high we hope everyone will be trying to catch up with us. I’m confident our farmers produce some of the best cannabis being grown,” says Guthridge.
“Many of our farms grow grapes, food and flowers. Growing cannabis doesn’t mean growing a monocrop,” Guthridge notes“We’re not catering to those who moved here just to ‘grow weed,’” says Rodriques. “We’re trying to help family farmers like ourselves.”
Under the Mendocino Generations umbrella, Beatty and Rodriques offer their own cannabis products under the Arcanna Flowers label. The name cleverly adds an additional letter to the word “arcana,” evoking the idea of a secret, powerful remedy. “Arcanna Flowers include our prepackaged menu of proprietary flower strains, produced using organic methods. We created these strains to offer consistency in quality, quantity and name recognition. We also produce wonderful rosins, salves and tinctures,” says Rodriques.
“We knew we grew good flowers, so it made sense to develop a product line. Chiah is an amazing herbalist and had been making excellent cannabis-based salves for years. We wanted to keep abreast of trends while honoring tradition, so we also offer old-school, ‘pre-rolled’ joints,” Beatty smiles.
Each Arcanna Flowers package includes a strain description. “Cozy Up” is described as “A relaxing Sunday afternoon in a feather bed,” and “Kong” is “Inspirational, energetic and not intended for use by gorillas or other primates.”
“Our primary goal is to grow really good soil. We’re getting away from ‘bottle feeding.’ We prefer a no-till, biological formula, as opposed to pouring bottles of nitrogen onto the soil. Healthy biology is cheaper and easier than conventional organic gardening,” says Guthridge, who is an experienced grower of a multitude of medicinal herbs. “Cannabis plants don’t need to be babied,” he smiles.
“We do everything any farmer does. We work extremely hard, through freezing autumn downpours and ridiculously hot summers, often from dawn to midnight. Cannabis farming is not for lazy people,” Beatty smiles. “You’re riding a razor’s edge. One thing can go wrong and destroy an entire year’s worth of time and investment. A whole crop can be ready to harvest and get stolen. Last year, a man flew over our garden, taking photos. Because we were a county-sanctioned, permitted garden, I notified the Sheriff, which felt very empowering,” says Guthridge.
Like a tomato farmer or a grape grower, cannabis farmers don’t set crop prices, and the seemingly high per-pound prices bely astronomically high labor and overhead costs. “People capitalizing on other aspects of cannabis are making money. Some dispensaries make huge margins selling moldy, dry, toxic material. Unfortunately, dispensaries aren’t required to sell compliant cannabis,” says Guthridge.
“If you’re playing by the rules, growing legal amounts, you’re not making a fortune. By becoming legal, we’re risking our survival,” says Beatty. “We’ll benefit in the long run,” smiles Rodriques. “We’re grateful to come out of the woodwork and to feel safe for the first time.”
Arcanna Flowers can be delivered within Mendocino County and in selected Bay Area locations. Visit their website for information on cannabis subscription baskets and a description of all their products and services. www.arcannaflowers.com