Chemistry Visits: Next Generation Hippie Values Thrive at Lady Sativa
Updated: Oct 14, 2019
For many cultivators, growing cannabis isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, it’s a way of life that supports vibrant rural communities, including small towns such as Garberville, CA. Born and raised nearby, Rio Anderson of Lady Sativa Farm is looking for a better way of doing business–one that focuses on restoring land rather than just extracting from it. “As a second-generation hippie, it’s exciting to have this cohort of farmers who are thinking about how humans can start living in balance with nature,” Rio said. “We’re interested in using permaculture, regenerative farming and agroforestry practices to restore our land.”
Rio’s family runs Chautauqua Natural Foods in Garberville, so he sees the parallels between the local, organic foods movement and boutique cannabis farmers. “It’s a challenge for a craft farmer to hold their own in this marketplace,” Rio said. “The small farmers who are collaborating with restaurants and farmer’s markets are doing ok.” Citing the need for similar collaborations in the cannabis space, Rio is excited about working with Chemistry. “There’s mutual respect in the brand relationship,” he added. “We don’t survive in isolation, we survive in community.”
Lady Sativa Farm doesn’t look like a typical farming operation. With steep, forested hillsides, the farm was planned around permaculture with the intention of building a compliant, legal cannabis business from the very beginning back in 2005. “We don’t just grow one thing, we try to grow a whole forest of things,” Rio said. “Cannabis doesn’t like to be monocropped, so we learned polycrop techniques over the years.”
Employing a revolutionary philosophy of “permanent agriculture” known as permaculture, Rio is building resilient systems that don’t need to be renewed every year. His aim is to recreate a fully-functioning ecosystem that retains water and builds topsoil instead of depletes it.
Remediating damage from past use by the timber industry, Rio first addressed the hydrology of the land, building ponds that recharged a spring, and designing roads to prevent erosion and runoff. Swales, roadside water traps and hügelkultur beds also help to settle and sink water, creating a system that retains the precious resource in the soil and on the land. By investing his time and energy into the land, Rio is taking the long view with Lady Sativa Farm and hopes to sustain his family for a lifetime.
Cannabis is a big part of this plan, since the plant generates short-term income that funds other projects. With just a half-acre under cultivation, Lady Sativa has a 20,000 square-foot outdoor garden and 5,000 square-feet of canopy in green houses under mixed lights. This leaves another 69 acres for forest and wildlife habitat. Located 12 miles from the coast, in the “banana belt” above the fog line and below the frost line, Lady Sativa Farm features the perfect mixture of wind and sunshine to grow cannabis. It’s a microclimate well-suited to growing Rio’s signature Sativa varieties. Planting in the native soil, Rio invested years of soil building work to get the hard red clay to loosen up and become rich in nutrients.
Planting cannabis in a polyculture means the plants are mixed in with other vegetables, herbs and flowers, which serves to promote soil health and prevent pest infestations. With rotational cover crops to fix nitrogen in the soil, and companion plants to attract beneficial insects, having a variety of crops helps create a diverse, balanced ecosystem on the farm. Rio has already seen more birds, bees and butterflies returning to the land–a sign of increasing vitality.
Rio also uses plenty of compost, along with a favorite fish emulsion called “Cream of the Crop” that he uses to make teas. While some inputs are brought in from outside the farm, Rio is intrigued by Korean Natural Farming practices that recommend sourcing inputs locally and using fermented amendments to increase the health of the microorganisms found in living soil.
With experience cultivating a variety of cannabis plants, Rio bred his signature strain Lady Benbow to be CBD dominant and express tropical flavors, heavy on the myrcene terpene. We refer to Lady Benbow as a kind and loving nurturer. This wonderful cultivar is currently available as a 13:1 full-spectrum vape and has quickly become a staff favorite. She’ll gently tend to your needs with the warm and comforting embrace of a true healer and will soon be available as a full-spectrum tincture too.
Alongside Lady Benbow, we’re also releasing Lady Sativa’s XJ-13, a Humboldt County heritage strain descended from a Jack Herer cross, as a full-spectrum vape later this year.
We’re proud to be sourcing cannabis from Lady Sativa Farm. Preserving the unique cannabinoid profiles and full-spectrum effects, our full-spectrum products support the small family farmers who are stewarding California’s rich farmlands and forests for the next generation. And since we’re a bunch of hippies at heart, we’re stoked to be supporting one of our own.