In 1968, after the Summer of Love ended, “Back to the Landers” traveled north from San Francisco in search of a better life. They grew their own food, lived off the land, and did away with the social norms of the day.
Soon they grew the “devil’s weed”. Someone brought a bag back to the city to sell, and the black market we know today began. The main counties were Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino, making up what is known as The Emerald Triangle. Today, Humboldt’s legacy and inspired farms stretch down to Lake County and heads east to Shasta.
Those traveling to Humboldt as a pot tourist might be surprised by the unavailability of good bud. For, unless you visit a weed event or are comfortable asking someone on the street, the people and industry of Humboldt are still up in the hills, for the most part.
While Humboldt only hosts a handful of dispensaries in the entire county, Wonderland Nursery in Southern Humboldt is the go-to for farmers, offering up a plethora of Humboldt’s finest genetics. Owner and founder Keven Jodry said its focus is on the plants, with maybe an ounce of flower a week sold a week in the pot saturated area.
Above: Wonderland Nursery in Southern Humboldt specializes in Humboldt's finest.
The historic Hemp Connection in downtown Garberville has been offering up hemp clothing, accessories, books, and clarity on the subject since 1990.
Activities in Southern Humboldt include hiking in the forests; perusing the Lost Coast; swimming in the Eel River; and staying off unmarked trails - where some still patrol their crops with shotguns.
Travel an hour north to the progressive City of Arcata – otherwise known as “60s by the Sea,” and you’ll find the Humboldt Patient Resource Center (HPRC) on J Street, the first official dispensary of Humboldt, serving patients for 18 years. Around the corner on I Street is The Heart of Humobldt, established more than 10 years ago.
The historic Arcata Hotel has wooden windows that open, and overlooks the historic Arcata Plaza, a great gathering spot hosting a lively Farmers Market on Saturdays and events throughout the year.
Buying local is big in Humboldt, and the Plaza is surrounded by shops and cafes, touting locally sourced, organic foods, fine local wines, locally crafted beer, and quant cafes offering up locally roasted coffee.
A magical hot tub experience is just up the street from the Plaza at Café Mokka Finnish Hot Tubs, with private tubs in a woodland setting – making it a perfect place to partake.
You’ve heard of community parks? Well, Arcata has its own forest. The Arcata Community Forest encompasses 2,134 acres walking distance from town, just up from Humboldt State University.
The university also hosts its own “Marijuana Institute,” offering educational classes on cannabis as medicine and more. Establishing this institute is a telling sign of things to come for this once covert region.
Today, those who used to be called growers are owning the title of farmers, coming out of the hills in the face of legalization. There have been many firsts in Humboldt since facing legalization, including the I Canna Parade and Cannifest, a county fair-inspired event held each April in Eureka at the historic Redwood Acres.
Above: Humboldt's first cannabis festival, Cannifest, inspired by county fairs, hosted "potting-up" relay games for the modern farmer.
For the first time in decades, cannabis farmers are inviting county inspectors onto their land, getting permits, and installing rain catchment systems for the greater good. This newfound conservation mirrors past lumber and fishing industries, who historically considered themselves responsible stewards of the land.
The future looks green for Humboldt, weed capitol of the world, as legalization looms in January, 2018. Those looking for the quintessential Humboldt experience may find themselves on a working farm one day as tourists, learning how to make the best medicine in the world, at the source.
Until then, take a drive into the woods, roll a fatty, and breathe deep the cool mossy air, while getting in touch with your muse, Humboldt style.
Photos by Sharon Letts.