The Bluegrass Podcast: Trimmigrant Part 1
I hope you’re rolled up and ready, because it’s time for The Bluegrass Blog, and this week, we’re diving into the Cannabis industry in the Emerald Triangle with the subject of today’s episode: How I became a Trimmigrant. The night before I lay tucked into a slightly horrifying edge of the forest in which I was asked if I could supply hard drugs. Twice. I was glad to dissapoint with my answers. Asking questions in my head about cannabis and haircuts, I drifted off to sleep underneath the Redwood cover.
Heading out Tuesday, I got a jump start on the day. I packed up, ate a nutritious breakfast of banana, peanut butter, and date syrup on a tortilla and I headed on the road to make it along the mystery path. Jump forward several directions and I made my way up the winding drive. With the rain coming down in sheets every day, I was glad to grab a work trade for the day, and especially with a legendary grower!
The past year when I’d come to Humboldt for the Ganjier Training, I’d bought a jar of buds in a mason jar and I loved it. I’m a sucker for any container I can then reuse as a drinking glass and a mason jar is the queen of those containers. Really, I’ll take a clean mason jar over the majority of other things, heck even a regular drinking glass usually. So to grab a glass quarter full of bud, and actually want to keep the jar, felt like an incredible find.
What would await me was something no less than incredible, As I wound my through the redwood roads, I followed directions, and followed curving roads to an unsuspecting gate where I would get some up close and personal experience with a series of beautiful strains and selections of flower.
Offering up work without pay is a great way to learn. Just sayin. When you really want to learn something just find someone who really could use some help and show up. It does wonders. And let’s you be a fly on the wall as we always do. If your goal is to learn. Learn. And go straight to the source as much as you can.
I got there, bushy tailed, eager eyed, and bouncing on the balls on my feet straight into a sleepy den of individuals enjoying morning breakfast.
A person I would learn was part of a film crew from Columbia called back for my host, and went through the farmhouse. Past the kitchen I could see a wood-stove, and a gentleman who was smoking a healthy joint, playing catch up on the last week’s football, american football, games, generously packed with fresh herb. I walked past them and their beautiful dog to feel the gentle warm of the iron stove melt the mist from my fingertips as the heat radiated up my arms, and let the smoke from the joint waft over.
Getting the chance to go and see some of those plants in the most singular way possible was incredible. There’s very little chance to stand in front of the garden that grew the cannabis you were smoking against the backdrop of the redwoods.
On arrival, there was a documentary crew, shout out to the Orange Crew and Jose, who’s journey I’ll link below if you want to follow the documentary, and hopefully you'll be able to see a short clip they shot of our interview, which was super cool! They were following the farmer I was with and wanted to just see what was going on with the strains, Humboldt County, and others in the area. Others on the road finding where it leads. Great people from Columbia who were coming to the west coast on a mission.
As different film crew members filtered through the kitchen and the sun room, the morning began to churn a little more, until Sherita who was to be my mentor showing me around, and a sunshine regular who plays music, showed me the best ways to get set up to lay t things out efficiently for processing. Clipping small branches pff, breaking them off, and cutting patterns to make the work less and more efficient. We were stripping the more useless leaves from the outside of the plant, like so many dry and crumbling banana peels revealing the glistening buds underneath. We also broked down the large candelabra branched plants down into more manageable single branches to take one at a time.
Trying to find a way to work between the bucking sticky branches, depositing the leafy material onto tables and moving them to preserve every single sticky trichome head possible, was a challenge.
I guess I should also explain the whole “trimmigrant” thing. Popping over to people who might not be from Humboldt, I am, as they say, a trimmigrant. Someone who travels to Humboldt and the Emerald Triangle for the trim season to rack up cash, collect cannabis, and enjoy the harvest season in Humboldt, no small prize either in and of istelf, although my focus was more on mentorship than making money.
Since I got here, there are definitely stories of the good old days of trimmigration? The golden days of being a trimmigrant. Trimmigrantary? Anyways, the days When double fisted cannabis demons blazed through rows of hanging cannabis, harvesting pounds by the day, and racking up serious cash doing so, getting paid a significant amount by the pound harvested. Three months of 12 hour days translating into 9 months of travel or any other activity. A disappeared heydey, gone Long ago with the cash boom of black market days gone by. A familiar story for many rural areas across the United States.
Part of the job of the Ganjier is not only to absorb information, but understand it, and understand how to bring that information to others.The podcast let’s me transmit, but there’s always a separation between seeing something, and experiencing something. It’s one thing to understand where a grape comes from, but to understand the life of that grape before it becomes wine is another process entirely. So too with cannabis, though we definitely were not looking to crush these fruits, they did offer a deeper insight as always into new cannabis flower, products, methods of creation. Every day feels a little further though in my journey towards the horizon of a better cannbis future.
Watching the constant stream of buds flood from underneath my fingertips and towards the slowly stacking boxes was a thrill. One thing I’ll say about watching everything move under your fingers, you get a much better understanding of where cannabis goes, how it goes, and what the process is to get what you get to put in your pipe. As a previous dispensary employee, it definitley made me wish I’d had this experience while working as a budtender. It’d be an incredible standard if part of a budtender training was a farm and processing visit. Imagine if every barista got the chance to visit a coffee farm and roastery!
Although, I wasn’t actually trimming. I was bucking. The stage before. Separating the individual buds at their stems from the larger stems and branches from Harvest. As we unwound the hanging strings, holding long beautiful rows of buds, we separated them out into larger buds, and smaller, fluffier buds, as well as any pieces that may have broken off But not a bud in its own right. Over three days I helped to buck beautiful purple, green, and golden cannabis flowers into boxes for trimmers later on. processing is an ever different set of standards no matter where you go. Everybody has their own way of going about things, and this was no exception. We removed some of the outer water leaves, the crispy outer membranes, and mostly got the buds themselves into correct sizes.
I’ll admit driving through the redwood hills of Humboldt has been incredible, but before this I was starting to thirst for a bit more of an up-close look at some cannabis, when finally, what should appear, but an acceptance! After a few different offers of free work, I’d arrived a little too late into the harvest season this year for personal reasons, but my luck was about to swing up when I saw the message that I could come out and work on the farm. Gaining experience, knowledge, and a way to seperate through some of what I’d heard versus what I needed to know. Every step forward you take, always lets you understand more and more. But understanding a plant, a craft, the people around it, makes you feel like the body of what you don’t know grows even more alarmingly fast.
I felt a surge of relief and excitement though! And more relief, to have someone take me up on my offer. I hadn’t just driven all the way across the country to drive back. Actual cannabis interaction though! What I came here for! This was going to be good after all!
The car was not headed towards the grand canyon after all!
With occasional visits from Jose, the director of the documentary, or our host, it was mostly just my bucking partner, a speaker, and a sizable amount of branches to get through. We sat there clipping and bucking and moving the table down the row bit by bit as wel made room in the now empty strings. Once where there had been barely enough room for the table, was empty space to the wall. And line by line we worked our way through the rest of the room.
At one point, over our first couple of days, Jose came over and we did an interview! We’d talked during my first day showing up and it ended up that he wanted to put us into a video to possibly use! If you’d like to see it we’re tagged on our account to the Documentary Guy and the orange crew, backing up the expedition and making things happen! They were from columbia, and were making a documentary on the West Coast. It was incredible getting to see them if only for a day or two, and they’re also still in the area if you’re an emerald triangle legacy operator and you’re looking to talk about cannabis in the triangle and beyond, give their profile a look.
If you’d like to follow their journey documenting the Humboldt Story @thedirectorguy @theorange.crew , Keep an eye out for their documentary, and if you want to see a ton of great legacy farmers they’ve talked with already, give their pages a look!
It also felt incredible to also meet people traveling, connecting through cannabis, using it to generate empathy and understanding between people. It's incredible not only how people can learn using cannabis, but also through simple understanding of the plant itself and how beautiful it is. Like a film maker using a documentary, or a chef for inspiration for his restaurant.
Working with the buds, hearing stories of the legacy farmers, and 91.1 KMUD, the local radio station, calling out the cops and blackhawk helicopters heading towards different farms back in the day was thrilling, and the trials that people are going through from the county, from neighbors, from farming. Some things never change. Hearing the stories of the world before the changes of legalization are always the best however. Not that the good old days are always the good old days. But the nostalgia, the golden glow, and the understanding of the community in that time is unmistakeable in some people’s voices. Only through the common enemy of the law, can such a strange assortment of people come together in quite the way they need to at certain times. Little sisters with big voices helping keep back big brother as it were.
That night as I tossed my black, rubber gloves onto the table was fantastic. Wine, pasta, and a great group of people all chatting after dinner, with a tremendous amount of cannabis all around. On me as much as in my lungs after my first day of bucking. I listened to them starting the fire and felt pretty lucky to be present, from the sink. Least I could do was clean up after I got fed twice in one day. After a round of dishes I heard the music bumping and saw the fire sputtering. Eventually the hardwood, after much fanning, blowing and helping would consume the log, but it took a while to get going. Spirits, however, were high?
The evening had more surprises in store however as I got a surprise tour of the strains our host had hanging for her personal garden, as she explained some about each one along with Arturro from the orange crew From Columbia.
We stood and listened and absorbed from the Master as they described the hanging rows of plants, asking questions until we bounced back to the bumping music and sputtering fire, small pieces of sticks in our hands with a sample of what we’d just discussed. It was a thrill getting to unwrap the leaves fresh off the drying vine, and pull it apart with my fingers, feeling the oils on my fingertips and picking apart the bud without a grinder. The simple thrill of exploring a bud with all your senses and understanding what you’re about to consume as best you can. Appearance, Aroma, Texture, Something More? I filled up a paper, crinkled it over the edge, and lit up the sweet, gently fuely, flower and inhaled deeply. The smoke tickled the nose and coated the tongue, deepening and getting better through the smoke.
As I got ready to go to sleep though, pulling my car through the gate, and collecting up my Jacket, I could hear my bucking mentor, also musician, playing in the Sunroom for the documentary crew. Between a full day of Bucking, Smoking, and learning, it took nothing for the sweet scents of cannabis, sounds of guitar strings, and a pretty safe place to park to spirit me away.