Chemistry Visits: Huckleberry Hill and Moon Made Farms Make a Heavenly Match
It’s impossible to deny the power of community that has persisted in the Emerald Triangle since the days of prohibition. For Huckleberry Hill and Moon Made Farms™, two locations growing sustainable sun-grown craft cannabis in Humboldt County, collaborating has become as much about honoring that community as it is about preserving the region’s valuable history.
“From the time I was little, I really never saw a difference between a cannabis plant and a tomato plant,” John Casali said about life on Huckleberry Hill Farms, the place he’s called home since moving there with his mother and stepfather as a child. In addition to being a homesteader at a time when it was more common for women to carry the role, his mother was also John’s greatest influence–she gave him his first 10 cannabis plants when he was just 15 years old. “She really instilled in me at that time how important it was to take care of anything that you’re growing,” he said.
“My mom is really the one that taught me everything I know.”
John took over Huckleberry Hill when his mother and stepfather left to travel the world as commercial fishermen. The mounting drug war meant shifting to indoor cultivation, setting off a chain of events that would lead to lengthy battles with law enforcement and ultimately, a stint in prison. While John served his time his parents passed away, but he wasn’t alone. “When I returned back from jail after 8 years, I had 50 people waiting for me at my property,” he said. “I really learned how important community is.”
Moon Made’s Tina Gordon arrived in Humboldt seeking a change from the world of film, photography and music, and that’s when she met the farm’s original homesteader Joanie Hannan. When Joanie and her partner Mary Ann offered Tina the chance to buy the farm after years of friendship, the significance of the deal wasn’t lost on the former urbanite. “I had an agreement with them to carry on their vision and legacy,” she said. “This was a very progressive, trailblazing, radical woman who was so ahead of her time,” Tina said of her dear friend, who passed away in 2012. “I think she’d been really proud of what’s happened here.”
Now a homesteader in her own right, Tina joined forces with a small group of cultivators four years ago to create the Humboldt High Five, a support network for cultivators preparing for California’s transition into adult-use. John was also a member, and when the two met they clicked immediately, establishing a bond that endured long after the rest of the group disbanded. “Throughout my journey, one of my most important alliances and friendships is with Moon Made Farms and Tina Gordon,” John said.
At the heart of their camaraderie is a shared commitment to sustainable farming. John sources Huckleberry Hill’s water supply from rainwater captured in the winter to help protect the fish spawning tributaries bordering the farm. At Moon Made, Tina taps the ancient practice of lunar farming in complete reverence to the cannabis plant’s photosensitivity. For the farmers, coming together became the perfect opportunity to not only experiment with the plant, but to also reinforce the powerful legacies of both farms.
“Johnny is second generation carrying on his mother’s legacy, protecting really rich history, valuable genetics, and knowledge,” Tina explained. “To understand the full character of this plant and how the characteristics express in different places, and to crack open the appellation of origin conversation, this is something that now Johnny and I can do with each other”.
John agrees. “Because Tina grows in living soil, the terpene profile would be expressed differently or better at her farm, and so that was part of our collaboration,” he said.
But their work was also about something much deeper. “All the strains that I grow here are made from strains my mom used to grow from 45 years ago,” John said, adding that only someone very special would be granted access to his heirloom genetics. “Tina was the best choice because the way she cultivates and the way she carries herself throughout the community was very aligned with the way we do things here,” he said. “She’s a female grower that reminds me so much of my mother.”
Their collaboration crossed Skittlez with Paradise Punch, one of the heirloom strains John’s mother grew over 4 decades ado, to create Huckleberries. This flower is such a crowd pleaser that not only did Chemistry source Huckleberries for its new vape pen–we also submitted it for this year’s Emerald Cup. “It’s sativa dominant, really puts a smile on your face, and makes you want to get out and go for a hike, or take a walk on the beach,” John said. “Very uplifting.”
According to Tina, the fact that Huckleberries’ unique terpene profile is highest in beta caryophyllene and lowest in myrcene means it’s less anxiety producing than most high-THC cultivars. “It gets you high, but it’s also elevating, uplifting, and makes you want to go out and do things,” she said. “It’s definitely life affirming.”
At the end of the day, John and Tina’s work together is about more than lauding small craft cannabis–it’s also about celebrating community. “Families come in many forms,” Tina reflected. “And cannabis right now, there are families being created and always have been. It’s the catalyst that brings people together.”