Southern Humboldt’s cannabis competition raises the bar and funds for firefighters
By Meg Wall-Wild
Legacy farms are scattered throughout Southern Humboldt County and they produce some of the country’s best cannabis. The annual Feast of Flowers brings these farmers together to share their knowledge and the bounty of Humboldt’s finest. In 2019, the inaugural Feast of Fields and the Feast of Flowers cannabis competition began its quest to promote the offerings of SoHum. In 2020, its virtual presence made it a most modern-day harvest festival, a county fair cousin with a massive twist.
Laura Lasseter of the Southern Humboldt Business and Visitors Bureau cannot contain her excitement. Instead of yet another community event canceled due to COVID-19, the 2020 Feast of Flowers not only went on, but tripled its number of entries and raised $15,000 for volunteer fire departments. This achievement is all the more impressive knowing the event is only in its second year. It is obvious the community felt the need to celebrate something, too.
Moving an agriculture competition from a crowded social to socially distanced event required coordination, flexibility and willing in-kind partners. Entrants dropped their cannabis off at the Country Club, following pandemic guidelines. Deadlines moved back to allow for time needed to judge the flood of entries. KMUD radio’s The Cannabis Show announced the winners on Dec. 7.
Judges evaluated the entries on appearance, smell and taste. Honorary Judge Ray Oaks joined the review panel provided by dispensaries, farmers and local businesses: Team Redwood Roots, Team Ridgeline Farms, Team Whitethorn Construction, Team K-Mud, Team Sylvendale, Team Humboldt Seed Company, Team Country Club and Team Humboldt Brand.
Full Moon Farms collected a first-place win in Light Dep (Deprived) Sativa for SPK (Sour Patch Kids) and a second in Full Term Hybrid for its popular Blueberry Muffin Gelato. Johnny Casali’s Huckleberry Hill Farms is built on an impressive maternal legacy that includes Fruitloopz and Huckleberries, the heirloom cross-strain that caught Willie Nelson’s fancy. Casali continues to honor his late mother with award-winning strains, garnering a second for Full Term Indica with Mom’s Weed and a third for Concentrate (Live) with Mom’s Magic.
The dedication Humboldt’s cannabis farmers have for their craft is illustrated by the number of farms with double awards. Always improving, crossbreeding and testing, these farmers leave us all wondering what new delights they will produce next.
It’s not all about the THC, either. Galen Doherty, owner of Whitethorn Valley Farm, points out that cannabinoids and terpene profile add to the overall smell, flavor and effect. His Night Owl Flower took first place with a lower THC content that most competitors.
“We are honored to have been awarded the first place prize for our Night Owl Flower … It feels especially meaningful to compete with our friends and neighbors, some of the best cannabis farmers in Southern Humboldt County and perhaps the world,” says Doherty. He notes the competition has “real merit because it is truly blind — there are no test results to go off of and the judges must rely on their own senses to rank each entry.”
Lasseter said the annual Feast of Flowers goals are to stay authentic, be real, celebrate and give back. That is exactly what the 2020 Feast of Flowers accomplished. The event remained community-focused in spite of this year’s unusual challenges. The community stepped up to raise $15,000 even when so many are suffering with limited resources. The donations will be distributed to 150 volunteer fire departments with each receiving $1,000 each. Every dollar will support the crews that risk all to put out wildfires.
The Feast of Flowers continues to grow a stronger cannabis community and promote the hard work of family farms. As the U.S. House of Representatives voted to decriminalize cannabis and the country inches towards legalization, regional branding is key to protecting Humboldt’s heritage strains as an economic driver. As with the Taste of Terroir’s encouragement of local wine exploration, the event promotes Humboldt’s niche to attract cannabis tourists.
Doherty already has an eye to future feasts. “We can’t wait to see how this competition evolves in the years ahead,” he says. He is also happy proceeds are donated to Humboldt’s volunteer fire departments, saying it “is another win-win for our community.”
Keep your calendar open for the 2021 Feast of Flowers. With one COVID-altered event under their belt, whatever comes, the SHVBV and the cannabis farmers of Southern Humboldt are ready. And they look forward to when the Feast of Flowers will again be held in the Southern Humboldt Community Park, where we can all readapt to celebrating together.
Meg Wall-Wild (she/her) is a freelance writer and photographer, former editor and grant writer who loves books, the dunes of Humboldt and her husband, not necessarily in that order.