We live in a very special neighborhood up in the hills of northern Mendocino County. It stretches across a rugged landscape, from mountain valleys to barren ridge tops. Farms and ranches are terraced down steep hillsides as well as spread across vast rangeland parcels. Some of the tallest trees in the world are here, along with spectacular creeks and a varied, primarily friendly flora and fauna. We have some mountain lions, rattlesnakes and packs of coyotes in our ‘hood of course, as well as the ubiquitous deadly ticks. But mostly it is bunnies and Bambis we see out our window, plus families of skunks, wild turkeys, chipmunks and squirrels. And of course, all kinds of birds and lizards.
Most people who live in this area, now referred to as the “Bell Springs Appellation” of Mendocino County, grow cannabis, and many of those have been doing it for three generations since the 1970’s.
Let me explain what an appellation is in case you don’t know. It is a French word which the Mirriam Webster Dictionary sums up as: a geographical name (as of a region, village, or vineyard) under which a winegrower is authorized to identify and market wine; also: the area designated by such a name.
Naturally, this applies to cannabis in the same way. Here in Mendocino, we also take into account the terroir (or native soil), the local water quality, the culture of the farmers (which is well established here), and the climate in the specific geographical region. In the Bell Springs Appellation we have a unique combination of all these elements.
Yet there is major ingredient I am not yet mentioning: The People who make up this mountain community. These are honest and hardworking farmers who know how to sweat all day and play all night.
Most, like us, have immigrated here from other places, and are very happy we did. Others, such as the proud O’Neill family, have been here for three generations. Casey O’Neill – oldest son of grower/ school teacher parents, and grandson of original farmers who arrived here at the very beginning of this cannabis era – is our dear friend. Besides that, he is a strong and respected spokesperson for the whole movement as Chair of the Mendocino Chapter of the California Grower’s Association and also as a founder of Emerald Grown Cooperative.
It was a wonderful day last March when Casey married his sweetheart and Happy Day Farms partner, Amber Cline, another powerful voice in our local and statewide cannabis movement. Together they are a dynamic duo, full of love and great spirit. They chose to have the marriage at City Hall in San Francisco with an intimate group of friends and family. But no way were they going to get away without a celebration of their love here in Mendo!
So it was a great honor and privilege to open up our ranch yesterday to the several Bell Springs/Happy Day Farm/CGA/Emerald Grown/O’Neill clans – and it was awesome. We all work so hard in the hills that is rare when we can all kick back and party, not talk about politics or mildew or pests, just enjoy one another and who we are. So it was perfect! There were excellent homemade potluck goodies (the Pot and the Luck were everywhere), bountiful flowers from local gardens, a rocking band called The Screaming J’s from North Carolina, who boogied for five hours, with a clan of dancing people loving every minute of it.
When the band was done, we gathered around the campfire under the tall Fir trees. Under the dazzling stars – and green laser lights – the drumming went on into the wee hours. It was a celebration to remember, a gathering of our tribes, to share the joy of Love. The same Love that goes into our land and our cannabis flowers and our lives. Thank you, Bell Springs Road.