casey o'neill

Turning Cannabis Growing Into a Diversified Operation


Casey O'Neill

Let me say it up front: I’m passionate about farming. I know how lucky I am to live in a place as beautiful as Mendocino County. This place is a part of who I am, and the rural character of our region is in large part what inspired me to become a farmer.

Let me also say, since this is a cannabis site, that when I say I love farming, I mean that I love ALL farming, not just cannabis. Oh sure, cannabis is central to my livelihood and our culture; but it’s the way that so many species of plants can grow so well in our region that keeps me excited and engaged.

I run a micro-scale, diversified family farm, located at 3,000 feet elevation. I started this farm because I love working outside, and because I love cannabis. That said, these days our farm is 90% vegetables.

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Our southwest slope has terraced gardens producing 40 different types of produce and flowers. We sell them through our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares, local farmers’ markets, and restaurants. Using rapid rotation, intercropping and interplanting, we are able to provide a wide variety of vegetable crops to our community: cabbages, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, mustards, garlic, bok choy, arugula, tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, squash, basil and more.

“We have the powerful experience of nourishing the land, and the community we love with food, nurtured with our own hands.”

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I was born and raised in the gorgeous, true Mediterranean climate that is Mendocino County. My school teacher parents purchased land here in 1975, a 20 acre parcel where they first built a cabin, and then a home, while raising myself and my two brothers.

I still love the rural, small town atmosphere of this area; it appeals to me with its strong sense of community.
My parents, my wife and brother all work alongside me, keeping all of our crops healthy and rotating through whatever tasks need to be done. We have the powerful experience of nourishing the land, and the community we love with food, nurtured with our own hands.

Our wonderful microclimate also allows us to grow small-batch, craft medicinal cannabis started from artisanal, seed stock varietals; we grow mostly Indica hybrids in native soil, and use compost and amendments. All of our crops are grown in the sun, strictly outdoors.

I’m a huge fan of Green Clean Certified, a qualified third party agricultural certification program, similar to organic standards. I think quality cannabis, free of pesticides, and grown using sustainable techniques is important, and I’m proud to say that our cannabis is certified.
In addition our farm is solar powered, and our agricultural water is stored rain water pumped by solar powered pumps; we strive to be as sustainable as possible in everything that we do.
As our farm grew I realized the importance of diversifying my crop portfolio in order to protect our small family farm. As the cannabis industry comes into the mainstream, we have a once in a civilization opportunity to protect and support small farms.

“In addition our farm is solar powered, and our agricultural water is stored rain water pumped by solar powered pumps; we strive to be as sustainable as possible in everything that we do.”

We’ve seen some really terrible things happen with industrial agriculture. Cannabis is a means to bring back the small farm in this country and help it to thrive. I hope small scale, sustainable cannabis farming will continue to be a part of our way of life.

This work is a labor of love, as we try to grow the highest quality food and medicine we can to help people.

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Casey O’Neill is a proud farmer and Mendocino resident. He is currently working on many responsible farming projects, including the Emerald Grown Cooperative.