The following is an opinion column from our occasional columnist Casey O'Neill of HappyDay Farms north of Laytonville.
As a food and cannabis producer in Mendocino County, it has been an amazing but difficult journey these past few years as regulations have begun to bring cannabis out of prohibition. HappyDay Farms has partnered with Flow Kana since 2014, when the company was first being formed. Those initial brainstorming sessions about cannabis normalization, small farms, diversified crop portfolios, and market access seem like a lifetime ago. We have been thrilled to see how the company has grown, providing legal sales opportunities to a growing number of independent farms, as we all work to navigate the complexities of the newly regulated market alongside the farmers. Any farmer knows that getting product to market is half the battle, and we are grateful for the opportunity to see our cannabis arrive on dispensary shelves throughout the state of California.
As a small farmer, I’m glad to say that those meetings sparked real action. Utilizing cannabis as an entry point, Flow Kana has become a supporter of small food farmers and decentralized food systems. In June of 2018, the company launched their employee CSA program, providing monthly seasonal vegetable boxes to their staff in Mendocino, the Bay area, and Southern California. Since then, Flow Kana has purchased over 2500 CSA boxes resulting in more than $70,000 in direct local economic support; it has been such a success, the program is quickly expanding in 2019.
As a farmer and an advocate for thriving food systems based around small operators, the partnership between Flow Kana, local farms, and the MendoLake FoodHub (a nonprofit that connects local people and businesses to produce grown in Mendocino and Lake counties) has been a dream come true for me. I have served as coordinator for the program over this last year and it has been thrilling. I am excited to continue the journey. This CSA program is an amazing example of 21st century corporate responsibility that demonstrates a real commitment to healthy communities and thriving local food systems.
I’ve worked in close partnership with Caroline Radice, Program Manager for the MendoLake Food Hub during the course of the CSA program. Caroline points out that, "The MendoLake Food Hub has seen substantial growth over the past year which would not have been possible without supportive, committed partners.” She further notes that Flow Kana has become one of the MendoLake Food Hub’s largest wholesale buyers.
Flow Kana’s CSA program will expand in 2019. As an integral part of this work, Flow Kana funds the Local Food Systems Development Program, which is designed to offer support to Emerald Triangle cannabis farmers who want to diversify their crop portfolios to produce vegetables for the CSA and other purchasers including the FoodHub. The company is expanding its program in 2019, extending the offer of a similar employee benefit to interested dispensary partners and other supply chain collaborators.
The cannabis industry has an opportunity to build in ways that honor localized supply networks and help to support small farms growing both cannabis and other crops. Building connections between cannabis industry workers and diversified producers maintains a sense of the traditional culture that existed around the homesteads and farms that produced the bulk of the cannabis grown under prohibition. Flow Kana is demonstrating a commitment to community that is profound and much appreciated. Great Success indeed!
Casey O’Neill co-operates HappyDay Farms, a DemPure Certified vegetable and cannabis farm in Mendocino County. You can find his radio show on podcast at HappyDay Farms Farm and Reefer Report on iTunes or Soundcloud. HappyDay Farms' website: www.happydayfarmscsa.com. In April 2019 it was announced that HappyDay Farms has partnered with Flow Kana and Brother David's cannabis brand, founded by one of the owners of Dr. Bronner's.
The preceding has been an opinion column submitted to The Mendocino Voice, published here as opinion. The views stated in this letter are those of the writer alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mendocino Voice. This being opinion, its content has not been fact-checked independently by the Voice, and it is presented here as the individual's opinion, not fact.