Mendocino Generations at the Emerald Cup 2018!

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We always have a blast at the Emerald Cup, and this year’s event was nothing short of amazing. A handful of our farmers worked the Mendocino Generations booth at the event, one of which was Brandon Wheeler of Blazing Oaks. Since many of us were not able to attend this year as there is still a lot of work that needs to be done on our farms, we decided to ask Brandon what his experience was like at the Emerald Cup this year. Here is what he had to say…

MG: Including Blazing Oaks, were there other farmers that worked the Mendocino Generations booth at EC2018?

BW: We had two other Mendocino Generations farms at our booth this year.  Myself and my wife Julee from our farm 'Blazing Oaks', Chiah and Jamie from 'River Txai', and Jenn and Joey from 'Wild Land'.  We also had help from Flynn from 'Sweet Sisters Family Farm', Daniel from 'Heartrock Mountain Farm', and Ahren from 'Big Dirty Farms'.

MG: How many years have you been attending the Emerald Cup?

BW: This was our fifth year attending the Emerald Cup, 2014 was the first year we attended.  That first year was a real eye-opener of what the future of the cannabis industry would hold, and it was the first time I remember thinking that cannabis was finally going main-stream at last, and that legalization was just around the corner.  Then in 2015 we placed with our Watermelon Rancher, and in 2016 we had the highest terpene levels off all entries.  This was the first year we decided to get a booth and be a vendor which was definitely a different experience than being a contestant or an attendee.

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MG: Which genetics did Mendocino Generations enter into the competition and how were they received by the community?

BW: Wild Land entered their "Super Fruit."  It is a Jah Goo x Super Silver Haze cross and is a WildLand exclusive that they bred themselves.  It has been received VERY well from everyone they’ve shown it to and shared it with. The sweetest fruitiest guava, Pineapple smelling wonderland.

MG: Who were some of the most interesting people that visited our booth this year?

BW: Jeff Lowenfels, author of "Teaming With Microbes: The Organic Gardener’Guide To The Soil Food Web" and two follow up book, "Teaming with Fungi" and "Teaming with Nutrients" came by our booth and talked with us a bit.  I've read all three of his books and am a big fan of his work, so that was really amazing that he stopped by the booth to meet the farmers and chat for a minute.

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MG: I understand that this year at the Emerald Cup, vendors were not able to sell product for the first time in the event’s history. How did that change the dynamic of the environment?

BW: All sales now had to go through a licensed distributor ,and be conducted by a licensed retailer on site.  It was in some ways more convenient for us to not have to deal directly with sales this time, but it also added a lot of additional expense and regulatory hoops to jump through for small farmers to participate.  As a result there were a lot less small and local farms represented this year which was unfortunate. This is one of the many examples of how over-regulation is hurting small family farms and our local communities.  Overall, it did go more smoothly than I would have expected, but this year was considerably more restrictive and tame compared to past years at the Emerald Cup.

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MG: What does the Emerald Cup mean to you?

BW: For us, the Emerald Cup is the finish line for the end of our cultivation season. It's also a chance to reconnect with our friends in the cannabis community and to get a pulse on what the next year may bring us.  2018 was an extremely difficult year for most farmers due to the constantly changing quagmire of the new, excessive, and byzantine cannabis regulations. Sadly a lot of farmers are being squeezed out, and losing their farms due to California's severely botched legalization attempt. This has had a huge negative impact on our small, rural Northern California communities. On top of that we had several unprecedented and destructive wildfires this year, which cost many people their homes and their crops, such as our friends at Big Dirty Farms.

Despite that, our little community has shown great resolve and determination to weather the storm of legalization. One of the upsides of these recent changes is that we are much more connected now than we ever have been in the past, as we no longer have to hide in the shadows and be so clandestine about what we do.  As a result we have gotten to know a lot of other amazing cultivators and farmers in Mendocino that we probably would have never met otherwise.  I think a lot of us have realized that we need to work together in order to succeed in the future. We are stronger together, and with groups like Mendocino Generations we can accomplish far more than we could on our own.

MG: I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you for taking the time to share with us your thoughts and experiences on the Emerald Cup 2018. I look forward to connecting with you in the New Year for a “Meet Your Farmers” post.

BW: My pleasure! Anytime.

Tell us: Did you attend the Emerald Cup this year? What were some of your highlights? Let us know in the comments below…