The First Salon – Swami Select Salon #1

“SURREAL.” That was the word I heard the most around the room the other night at the inaugural Swami Select Salon in San Francisco. It was a scene we thought we’d see only in our dreams just a couple of years ago. It sounds like an oxymoron, but it worked: imagine third generation Mendocino cannabis cultivator Casey O’Neill, fresh off Happy Day Farms, hanging with Slick Folks in the Big City. Casey’s and his partner Amber Cline’s farm is right up the road from our own Ganja Ma Gardens. Each farm had a display table featuring some of our finest sun grown organic heirloom top shelf high quality great success cannabis and, over the course of the evening, we each shared three separate strains with guests, making it a total of six strains to sample.


SSS 4-3-15 Casey and Amber talk on stairs
Casey and Amber of Happy Day Farms introduce themselves to the gathering


The setting only added to the surreal quality of the evening. A friend and fellow cultivator from Mendocino, whom I will leave unnamed here, allowed us the honor of using her incredibly elegant abode for the opening event for Swami Select. High on a hill overlooking the entire city and Bay beyond, it’s an ultra-modern home with sleek interiors, huge windows and decks to take in the expansive vista. At times I felt like I was in the Hollywood Hills, but the good old Transamerica Pyramid still poked through all the other skyscrapers to remind us of where we were.


The FlowKana crew, who were very instrumental in producing the event, were on hand – what a bright bunch they are. I just love the Venezuelan flair that comes along with Mikey Steinmetz Mishkin and his wife, Flavia. The mesh of what we are doing with what they are doing is a natural: providing delivery service in SF through an app and on-line presence that allows consumers to learn about the individual farmers and their techniques and philosophies before choosing the strain. We all agree that sun grown organic is the only way to go.


Casey and Amber were the first farmers on the FlowKana site and Swami and I are the second farm to be represented there, and we are proud of it. At the Salon, besides bringing the farmer and consumer together, the other exercise of the evening was to enhance the cannabis aficionados experience through teaching them some tips for judging what they are smoking. The big surprise for many people was the concept of taking a dry hit before you light the joint, to really taste the essence, so to speak. Longtime cannabis activists David Goldman and Michael Koehn were there – Michael came equipped with a magnifying glass in his pocket to look for trichomes.”I just love the trichomes,” he grinned. These people were serious about getting stoned – another oxymoron.


Cuvée Big Bud under glass
Top Buds from Cuvée plant from Ganja Ma Gardens


Along with the selection of smokables from the Emerald Triangle were other treats from the same appellation. Lovely Mendo Girl, Satya, proudly poured her family’s finest Zinfandel, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varieties from the Sipla/Bergen Vineyards. Mendocino brewed beers were on hand and surprisingly, maybe first time ever, the spring water from Turtle Creek Ranch went before the alcohol … these were definitely Stoners. The extra kick of the evening was the Potka Punch – served in small 2.5 oz glasses, and only one per person, I could visibly see the vibe in the room rise as everyone imbibed the punch. Unlike edibles, it doesn’t come on slow  then slam you upside the head. Instead, it comes on fast and is fun and lively. It’s great for conversation but doesn’t leave you wasted or crawling to your room (like some edibles can do).


Yet I couldn’t help but notice that about halfway through the second round of samples, some people started to fade away, with big smiles on their faces. I particularly enjoyed the people sitting comfortably in big chairs, lost in blissful space staring at the view. Needless to say, most guests were too stoned to actually fill out their judging forms, but some did. Mike McCarty for example – here is a man who was a hippie in the Haight Ashbury in 1966, then stopped all cannabis consumption for 25 years while he had another lifetime.  Then, due to cancer, he re-discovered the wonders of smoking the medicine and returned to the tribe, more of a convert than ever since it was such an ally in his personal healing. I love that story.


No doubt about it, the first Swami Select Salon as a huge success. It just feels good to do this work, to share this clean, healthy, loving product with the world. The time has come. And it is surreal.

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