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Conscious Cannabis takes Biodiversity Lesson from Vineyards

By Jim Humes

When most people think about cannabis cultivation, it conjures up an image of a warehouse filled with rows of plants growing under the glow of artificial light. The operation consumes electricity. A lot of it. And the carefully controlled growing environment feels more like an industrial manufacturing facility.

Now imagine a farm at the end of a dirt road. An “insectory”—a small plot filled with plants that attract insects capable of protecting crops from the harmful bugs—sits at its center. Chickens, goats, and cows on the property contribute nutrient-rich compost to the soil. The farm practices polyculture—with cannabis being just one of many crops that work together to share nutrients and protect each other from pests. And no insecticides, fertilizers, pesticides, or foreign elements have been introduced into the agricultural system.

Which cannabis would you rather consume?

The latter scenario describes a growing movement in cannabis cultivation based on “regenerative farming.” Regenerative goes beyond “organic” or “sustainable” approaches, with the goal being to improve the environment through agriculture. Regenerative farming practices make soil richer. They increase the soil’s ability to sequester carbon. They improve groundwater quality. They help farms become more drought and flood resistant. Most important, regenerative farming produces higher quality crops.

“How you grow matters as much to us as what you grow,” says. Eli Melrod, co-founder of Solful, Sebastopol’s newest cannabis dispensary. “You can taste the superior quality of a sun-grown tomato from a local farmer’s market, compared to one that’s been grown in a ‘hot-house’ and shipped across the country. The same is true of cannabis.”

Melrod doesn’t make this statement casually. Before founding Solful, he spent time working in a cannabis testing lab, getting a direct view into the chemistry behind the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds that define the character of cannabis. And for the last eighteen months, Melrod has visited roughly thirty cannabis farms in Northern California to meet with farmers. The products he selects for Solful come from producers of sun-grown cannabis who are growing one-of-a-kind strains that express the terroir of their farms, as well as the farmers’ personalities.

“The ways these farmers think about soil, water, wind, sun, the local flora and fauna, and their plants’ genetics brings a new level of creativity and quality to cannabis,” says Melrod, who is on a mission to educate people about the ways cultivation practices impact the end product.

To that end, Solful will be hosting a Biodynamic Evening at their Sebastopol location on December 20. At this event, Mike Benziger will share the wisdom he’s gained from his years of Biodynamic farming. By working with farmers who bring environmental consciousness to the art of cultivating cannabis, Solful has found the partners to help them deliver on this commitment.

Solful is located at 785 Gravenstein Highway South in the Southpoint Shopping Center in Sebastopol and is open 11:00 to 7:00, 7 days a week. To learn more, visit or @solfulCA on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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