When the Emerald Cup was launched 14 years ago with a goal of advancing sustainable cannabis farming, the word ‘organic’ carried a lot more clout.
“Over the years, we’ve watched the term ‘organic’ kind of get dumbed down a bit,” says Tim Blake, founder of the “largest, most respected, organic, outdoor medicinal cannabis competition in the world” held every year in northern California.
“Now we’ve moved up into terms like regenerative farming and living soils and sustainable farming... but when we introduced an award for ‘regenerative farming’ at the Emerald Cup this year, everyone was like, ‘what does that mean?’”
In a nutshell, it means the progressive farming practice that regenerates topsoil and enhances biodiversity. But Blake decided the best way to answer that question for the masses was with the inaugural Cannabis Country Fair, slated for July 21-23 at Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville, California.
The event will bring together a unified community of (real) organic cannabis farmers and wellness enthusiasts, fusing industry education with live music, organic cuisine, goods from the Emerald Triangle’s top cannabis farmers, and traditional country fair games for a unique festival experience.
“The big theme for this show across the board is ‘education.’ It’s educating people about regenerative farming and living soil and taking care of their farms sustainably, and it’s educating people about how to make clean, quality products without any pesticides or residuals,” Blake tells Civilized.
It’s becoming increasingly essential to have these kinds of conversations with cannabis farmers as larger, less sustainably minded cannabis corporations gain traction in light of legalization, says Blake.
“We basically have to get people to really build their brands and teach them how to get craft, artisan cannabis because that’s the only way they’re going to have a chance at fighting [big companies],” says Blake. “There’s so much change coming at us that we really need to get the word out and show people how to have a niche in this market.”
Considering the increasingly strict regulations around cannabis production in legal states, adds Blake, the industry is on track to become a major trendsetter when it comes to the future of farming as a whole. This is partially why it’s so critical that everyone be on the same page about what exactly that entails.
“The cannabis industry has laws that are so far above any other agricultural [sector]. You can spray toxic chemicals all over our food and our vineyards, but cannabis has to be completely organic...so cannabis farmers are basically leading the way,” says Blake.
“The challenge is that all of our people are going to have to live up to that standard and most of them aren’t quite there yet...we have to get in front of that and educate.”
There will also be plenty of time for fun and games at the festival, of course, with bands like Thievery Corporation, Portugal. The Man and Beats Antique set to headline. A cannabis marketplace, morning ganja yoga, river activities and unique cannabis competitions will also be on deck.
At its heart, the event is about “the community coming together,” says Blake.
“The Emerald Cup started out with the idea that it was a cannabis country fair, but it was a December show which doesn’t exactly [scream] summer and snow-cones and treats,” he says. “We thought it would be really nice to come together and camp out... really immerse ourselves in the cannabis community for some time.”
Tickets for the festival can be purchased here.