Planting Seeds of Wisdom
In the heart of Humboldt County, where the sun-kissed land and the gentle breeze weave a tapestry of tranquility, lies Neukom Family Farm. Located about an hour inland from Arcata, Willow Creek is nestled amidst a picturesque landscape and a growing region known as a banana belt.
“It’s really hot here, so we grow a lot of hot crops and sell them to the coast,” says Amy Neukom, co-founder of Neukom Family Farm. Of course, Amy isn’t talking about cannabis, but the fruits and vegetables she and her husband Jacques grow on their Willow Creek farm.
Jacques started the farm in 1996, and Amy began her own farm in Orleans. However, after hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 1999, Amy knew she wanted to grow in a larger capacity and make it her life’s work. She soon met Jacques, and the two have grown together ever since.
The produce from their land has been certified organic for decades, a coveted title, especially in the health-conscious community of Humboldt County.
Roots in the Soil of Humboldt
Neukom Family Farm is a testament to Amy and Jacques’ dedication to sustainable agriculture. In 2016, when cannabis was legalized, a new chapter unfolded. The decision to diversify their offerings came naturally, perfectly aligning their values with emerging opportunities.
Amy Neukom orchestrates a symphony of growth where sungrown cannabis and nature harmonize. She leads her team to cultivate full-term sun-grown cannabis plants alongside row crops and fruit trees. The native soils, already enriched by years of good stewardship, offer a fertile canvas for their endeavors.
Neukom Family Farm’s approach is more than cultivation; it’s a partnership with the earth. Amy and her team practice a form of agriculture that enriches the land, ensuring its abundance for generations to come. The conviction that the land should flourish in a century as it does today guides their every step.
Their fields are a living testament to this philosophy. They eschew chemicals, relying on beneficial insects to manage pests. Nothing is ever sprayed. There are no bags of soil or plastic bottles of nutrients. Every bloom, whether it’s cannabis, flowers, or peaches, carries the pure essence of nourishment and medicine nurtured by nature.
A Uniquely Simple Approach to Cannabis
Neukom Family Farms is a beacon of sustainable practices in the Humboldt agricultural community. Amy and her team cultivate a rich tapestry of crops, each benefiting from their meticulous approach. A closed-loop fertility cycle is the cornerstone, where compost is created from farm waste, ensuring minimal external inputs. Techniques like dry farming and drip irrigation exemplify their commitment to responsible water use.
With an eye on the future, they embrace practices that nurture the environment. Composting, mulching, and sourcing locally are not just tasks but a part of their ethos. Their farm extends beyond cultivation – untouched areas are managed for nature’s benefit, enhancing the ecosystem.
What really stands out about Amy’s approach to cannabis is the absolutely stripped-back simplicity. She is not worrying about the wind or rain or babying her crops with eagle eyes. Instead, she trusts the plants.
“We enjoy taking a hands-off approach. We’ve been here long enough to see the transition of cannabis as a patch in the woods to indoor, this whole Wild West scenario, and then licensing. Along the way, people started to adopt indoor cultivation practices and brought them outside. Like, using tons of potting soil. You are on gorgeous land, dig a hole! All of these nitpicky things that people do with cannabis that you do not need to do. If you let it grow naturally….it really blooms as nature intended.” – Amy
Even when it comes to watering, Amy uses only what is required, never drenching the plants despite the heat. This method of dry farming is something they employ across many crops, and here, in this unique microclimate – it works.
Quality Over Quantity
Amy’s introduction to cannabis predates her involvement at Neukom Family Farm. With a deep-rooted spiritual connection to the plant since her teenage years, cannabis was not just a crop but a part of her life’s fabric. When cannabis was legalized, she seized the opportunity to infuse this sacred plant into their diverse farm.
Their cannabis license, a modest 5000 square feet, reflects their commitment to quality over quantity. Through meticulous care and mindful practices, they’ve woven cannabis into the fabric of Neukom Family Farm.
“We know we don’t want to do any more than 5000. We want it to be a part of our farm but not our entire reality. It fits really well with us because our fruits and veggies dwindle when it’s time for our cannabis to be focused on.” – Amy
Amy and Jacques pride themselves on being able to bring this pure, potent medicine to their community. Their hard-earned wisdom comes from decades spent learning this land, an education that cannot be bought.
Championing Organic Practices
Amy’s dedication to quality resonates in their organic certification. Both their food and cannabis are certified by the California Certified Organic Farmers program. This commitment isn’t just a label; it’s a testament to their holistic approach. No-till farming ensures a thriving microbial world beneath the surface, where roots exchange nutrients with fungi and bacteria through a symbiotic dance.
“We make our own compost. Our only inputs for any crops are fish emulsion and composted chicken manure. Our biggest goal is to lessen external inputs, so we want to create more high-quality compost to replace it. Then, I can analyze our soil through a microscope to see what it needs. It’s pretty awesome to make all of that and look at it under the microscope.” – Amy
As Amy explains, “Our plants and soil feed each other.” Compost, enriched with local wood chips and organic waste, nurtures the land, creating a fertile haven. This stewardship not only enhances terpene qualities but also brings their flowers’ authentic essence to life. “We have a lot of native pollinators and insects that help us, and we created hedgerows to drive their interest in taking care of pests and cannabis,” Amy adds. Perennials like yarrow, calendula, thyme, and oregano grow around the cannabis plants in rows to create relationships.
“There’s not a perceived value yet for organic cannabis. When people pick out wine, they aren’t necessarily shopping like they do for veggies, and it’s kind of like that for cannabis still. And I also think people are afraid of the paperwork because we’re inundated with it. People think it’s too expensive. It’s valuable to us because we believe in being organically certified. We’re the 8th farm in California to become certified.” – Amy
Crafting Strains, Cultivating Community
Neukom Family Farms isn’t just about cultivation; it’s about crafting strains that resonate. Maui Wowie – the famous landrace sativa – is one of the most popular cultivars to come out of their garden. When paired with the Blue Dream from Scott’s garden, it creates a pre-roll that most all cannabis connoisseurs deeply admire.
Collaborating with breeders like Jesse Dodd from BioVortex, Amy has curated strains that are both high-yield and deeply flavorful.
When asked what she personally likes to smoke, Amy talks about the magic of ratios of THC and CBD. She believes in highlighting the significance of CBD-rich strains like Sapphire Sue, a personal favorite known for its balanced attributes.
“That can be 1:1 or 2:1, and the way she grows…what a huge, beautiful plant. I sought it out early on because I really feel like CBD is important for people, and it’s not grown or appreciated enough. We love the synergistic effects that come through from our plants. Whenever anyone is at our place, everyone enjoys trying Sapphire Tsu.” – Amy
Empowering the Cannabis Journey
Looking ahead, Amy envisions a future where cannabis transcends stigmas and becomes a source of healing. She dreams of seeing their cannabis side by side with their food at farmers’ markets, where they can openly showcase their life’s work and the integrity with which they grow food and medicine. Their journey isn’t about quick gains; it’s about nurturing a legacy where cannabis enriches lives.
Through Amy and Jacque’s dedication, Neukom Family Farm has become a symbol of sustainable farming practices and a testament to the potential of cannabis as a holistic experience. Her story, woven into the soil of Humboldt County, is a chapter of harmony, stewardship, and a celebration of cannabis’ transformative power.