Giving Tree Farms
Anderson Valley, CA
Now that we’ve survived 2021 — even if barely — we have a new mantra at Giving Tree Farms: squeeze the sh*it out of those lemons.
Thriving always has to be an option, so we’re making do with what we’ve got. Our lemonade may not be as sweet, but it’s still able to quench our thirst.
Last year was one of the most challenging we’ve faced as a company. After two years of being told by our local jurisdiction that a site-specific California Environmental Quality Act review was not necessary to obtain an annual license from the Department of Cannabis Control, our county reversed its course. Less than a year before our provisional expired, we received news that the insanely expensive environmental document was required.
On top of the hefty CEQA price tag, we had California’s market to contend with. So oversaturated with bulk, wholesale flowers from licensed cultivators, it became impossible for licensees like us to find a buyer. Even long-term partners of ours were lost to large companies, those able to offer prices that our small operation could never compete with.
Toward the end of the year, growers in the Emerald Triangle were lucky to break even on their per-pound price, with most of us ending up in the red. Many of the offers we received did not even cover the cost to produce and pay the taxes. Thankfully we are gritty and resilient.
Yet here we are, in a new year. We made it through the chaos.
Mendocino County and Elevate Impact launched a much-needed grant program. New small-but-mighty buyers showed themselves. Never missing a beat, our mainstay buyers were there when we needed them.
The cannabis business is really a people business — and 2021 brought us even closer to those we depend on.
We’re constantly leaning more into our cooperative, Hive Mendocino. Badass consultants at Mainspring made the CEQA project bearable. MCA and Origins Council have our backs on the policy side. Those in our marketing team (Amorette Quintanilla, Heather Seely and Baked Brands) remind us that telling our story helps others — like those that we leaned on when times got tough in 2021.
My lesson from this rather large lemony year? Challenges and losses are built into the journey of any business. Oftentimes, an initial response or first instinct may be stress or fear-based, but with a strong work ethic and people to trust, everything will work out. With the right partners and consultants, fate will move in your favor. Giving Tree Farms is a testament to this.
So here we are, living the dream another year.
Courtney Bailey is the co-founder of Giving Tree Farms and a founding member of Hive Mendocino Cooperative, operating 12,500 square feet of greenhouses on a 200-acre ranch in the Anderson Valley. Her focus is on combining sustainable, organic and integrated mixed-light farming practices while protecting the legacy sungrown operator. She also serves on the board of the Mendocino Cannabis Alliance, Hive Mendocino Cooperative and the Anderson Valley Food Bank.