A Journey Rooted in Heritage
In the heart of Humboldt County, where the land stretches out under the sun’s warm embrace, and the breeze carries tales of an ancient connection, lies a farm that embodies a legacy as profound as the redwoods themselves. Amaranth Farms, a name whispered with reverence throughout the cannabis community, is the culmination of generations of passion and commitment. At the helm of this storied legacy stands Nya Hessler, a man whose life has intertwined seamlessly with the very soil he treads upon.
Nya’s roots in Humboldt run deep, reaching back to the 1970s when his parents, Karen and Tommy Hessler, laid the foundations for what would become a legendary cannabis movement. They were original homesteaders, building their home by hand, and growing food and medicine for their family. The Hesslers are not just cultivators but advocates, visionaries, and a testament to the unyielding spirit that defines Humboldt’s cannabis heritage.
Growing Up With Greens
Nya’s childhood was unlike that of most kids. He grew up on the remote farm his parents carved out of the land, a place where growing food and cannabis was a way of life. The era was different, marked by secrecy and the shadows of prohibition. Nya recalls, “I was the guy getting guns pointed at me, left in the dark, beat up by cops. But, I never got in trouble.” This childhood was shaped by a constant dance with the law, a reality he navigated amidst the sprawling farm fields.
The secrecy shrouding the cannabis culture created an atmosphere of hushed caution. In school, cannabis farmers were known but never spoken of. “You couldn’t talk about what your parents were doing,” Nya reflects. “If you even flinched wrong, the cops would be at your house.” Navigating this world was tough, marked by isolation and hard work. Summers meant toiling under the blazing sun, a stark contrast to the worry-free warmer days associated with a typical childhood.
A Glimpse of Freedom and Surf
Yet, amidst this rugged landscape, Nya found solace in two passions: surfing and motocross. As he matured, new friends began to gravitate towards him, and he discovered a freedom that contrasted the heavy secrecy of his early years. “My parents smoked, but I wasn’t interested,” he admits. “I think I smoked weed maybe once before 18, then after 18, I tried pot a bit.”
Surfing became his sanctuary, a space where societal norms mattered less than the rhythm of the waves. When he was 16, Nya’s face landed on the cover of a book titled A Day in the Life of California. The blue-eyed blonde stands next to his surfboard in the photo, evoking an iconic emblem of cool California vibes. This catapulted him into a whirlwind of modeling and travel. “I ran that life pretty hard for two years,” he remembers. But this world, adorned with superficial allure, left him disillusioned. “They buy you dinners and take you on trips, but really, they’re just using you. By the time I was 18, I realized nothing ever came of it.”
Nya on the cover of A Day in the Life of California
A New Chapter
With the brief detour of the modeling world behind him, Nya took on a new challenge and enrolled at the College of the Redwoods in Fortuna. Not only was he looking to further his education, but in a way, he was seeking respite from the chaos of the weed-centric world he had known. There was no escaping the infamous Hessler name, and Nya was tired of the incessant badgering from local law enforcement. “I especially wanted to get away from this one cop that was always harassing me,” Nya recalls.
He moved from the family farm to a small farm in Loleta. This chapter introduced a new rhythm balancing academics, surfing, and nurturing the very land that was deeply etched into his being. He would drive the backroads between school and the farm, avoiding town so he wasn’t noticed. After college, the routine stuck. “I did that for 10 years back and forth,” Nya reflects on his dual existence.
While at a local market in Hydesville on the infamous Highway 36, Nya sees the cop who had harassed him for so many years. Thinking he’d gotten away from this guy, he finds out he lives two blocks away. Eventually, Nya gets busted, but it’s thrown out in court.
“It was a wild time. It was extremely good, and just extreme. You can’t do much with weed money. You can’t buy a house.” – Nya
During this period, Nya lived like many of the outlaws of the era. “I like to say I sponsored myself for 20 years,” he chuckles, reflecting on a lifestyle that was fueled by the proceeds of cannabis. Surfing trips to far-flung destinations and the pursuit of adventure had become possible due to the very plant that once cast a shadow of secrecy over his life. Of course, it still wasn’t up from the underground, at least not yet.
A Nudge From the North
Years later, Nya was on a Canadian snowboarding trip with his wife and sons when news of its nationwide cannabis legalization reverberated across the globe. This momentous event wasn’t just a distant spectacle; it triggered introspection and consideration of the future.
Nya and his wife engaged in earnest discussions about the trajectory of their farm and their connection to cannabis. “Either we get with the program, or we get out,” Nya states with a resolute tone. It was a pivotal moment, a chance to align with the evolving landscape or step away from the world he had known all his life.
Nya’s path forward became clear. “I was one of the first 50 people to apply.” With this decision, Amaranth Farms embarked on a new chapter – one that merged tradition with transformation. It was a testament to Nya’s enduring connection with the land and his unwavering commitment to cultivating quality cannabis. It was time to come out from the underground.
Cannabis: An Inseparable Bond
“I smoke flower, but THC is irrelevant,” he says, a testament to his nuanced approach. Like most connoisseurs, it’s the terpenes and depth of flavor and effect that Nya appreciates from the unique cultivars he grows today.
This seamless integration led him to become a torchbearer for Amaranth Farms, working diligently to ensure the legacy endures. The farm’s ethos revolves around sustainability, marked by soil nurtured over five decades.
“We’ve been testing our soils for the last couple of years, and we started to realize that we don’t need to add half of the stuff we are thinking of adding. It’s abundantly there. This land is so fertile and rich.” – Nya
The commitment to preserving the environment is unyielding, with plans for 100% rainwater catchment and solar technology setting the stage for a regenerative future.
A Glimpse into Tomorrow
As Nya surveys the present and gazes into the future, he stands at the intersection of legacy and innovation. The journey that began with his parents’ determination in the ’70s continues, encapsulating the spirit of Humboldt’s cannabis culture. With an outdoor acre and two expansive light deprivation areas, Amaranth Farms thrives, cultivating strains like Ice Cream Cake and Gelato #41. Yet, when talking about cultivars, Nya acknowledges the resurgence of demands for some of the original plants that first grew in the hills of Humboldt.
“We’re getting back to breeding those legacy strains,” Nya asserts, emphasizing their commitment to Humboldt’s heritage. The journey isn’t just about cannabis; it’s a celebration of a way of life rooted in the soil. Nya’s hands-on, holistic approach embodies the essence of sustainable farming.
As he reflects on his trajectory, Nya’s determination remains steadfast in growing cannabis as his life’s work, “This is what I’m gonna do. I’m not going anywhere.” With these words, he encapsulates the enduring spirit of a man devoted to his land, his plants, and the legacy he is weaving every day.
In a world often defined by chaos and shifting landscapes, Nya Hessler and Amaranth Farms stand as a harmonious unity where heritage and innovation coalesce. Nya’s life story embodies the very essence of Humboldt’s cannabis culture, and Amaranth Farms remains a testament to the unyielding spirit of the land. As the sun sets over Humboldt’s rolling hills, it casts a warm glow upon a legacy that continues to grow, evolve, and inspire.