“Their personal involvement with their patient has manifested a program in which they make it possible for people with terminal illnesses, or who are especially in need, to receive their products for free.”
Off-roaders whizz along a span of terrain overlooking the mountains and redwoods in the heart of Humboldt County, California where the Eel River runs serpentine miles below. Goats munch on cannabis leaves, children and workers tend to pigs and horses, and in the distance an instantly recognizable crop stands majestically on a nearby hill.
The plants are impressively large. They’re contained within a greenhouse and there are about 200 of them. This setup is only one of four and is on the small side compared to the others. Three properties and 300 acres comprise Elk Ridge Holistic (ERH), where Alan and Leatrice Good have made their home and livelihood since 2014. The Goods are from Hoopa, California, and met while attending Hoopa Valley High School. They were high school sweethearts and have been married for 21 years. They now live on their farm in Myers Flat with their three children.
ERH is a family-run, organic and salmon-safe medical cannabis farm and business. They are a member of Emerald Family Farms, a collective of growers in Humboldt County. Alan and Leatrice Good single-handedly run everything: thousands of cannabis plants, the harvest process, and the selling process. ERH officially began just over a year ago, but “technically we started 14 years ago in our basement,” Leatrice Good said. “I’m a third generation. My grandparents did it, my dad did it. Now I do it.” Family remains at the core of the couple’s philosophy and is at the heart of the farm’s productivity. The Goods’ children and niece tend to all the farm animals. The animals play a role in cannabis cultivation as well: goats and pigs are fed freshly-cut leaves after de-leafing, and their manure is then used in the plant soil.
The laundry list of creative organic methods the farmers use includes the integration of compost teas into their plant soil. The “teas” are essentially the healthy, living matter in compost, liquefied. They’re made up of various organic materials, like fish cakes, molasses and coffee grounds, which they brew together into concoctions so teeming with microbes, a sharp, foul stench wafts out of the bins when their cover is lifted. This is probably why they’re contained within a small wood station on the farm. Alan and Leatrice Good attest the success of their compost teas to the Beneficial Living Center (BLC) who provide them with personally-tailored recipes based on their soil condition. They also provide consulting to assist in improving overall soil health.
“We take a test of the soil and provide a fertility management program, what to amend and provide nutrient management consulting,” said Seth Geddes, owner of the BLC in Arcata, California. ERH has also experimented with biochar and bokashi, organic soil boosters, as advised by the BLC. “We just blended it into our soil this year to make it a bit more diverse,” Alan Good said. “This year we’ve seen lot more vigorous growth in the plants and bigger stem size.”
Biochar integrates carbon into the soil, which has several benefits: it holds onto water and nutrients, and creates a safe-haven for microorganisms to grow. However, the experts at the BLC say it should be used with caution.
“We really want to educate people on how to use it appropriately because it can be used incorrectly,” Geddes said. “Carbon is a pretty hungry thing.” If too much is used, carbon filters can compete with plants for nutrients.
In addition to being entirely organic, ERH is also certified salmon-safe, meaning they’ve adopted practices that support healthy water quality and safe animal habitats in the environment. To conserve water, they also use drip-watering when possible, and only obtain water from their licensed creeks and springs. Sustainability and being mindful about waste is at the forefront of the Goods’ work ethic when it comes to their business, too. Alan Good discussed how easy it is to avoid plant waste, and encourages other farmers to be more conscious of their plant processes.
“The industry standard is to lose 20 to 30 percent to mold,” Alan Good said. “Why? It makes no sense. Why not take it seriously and treat it like a real job? Because it is a real job.”
The Goods are dedicated to providing the best medicine they can to their patients, especially because they have a personal relationship with many of them. “You befriend people this way,” Leatrice Good said. “It’s a lot more personal.” ERH is unique in that their patients often go directly to them for their medical cannabis rather than to dispensaries. “It’s like farm-to-table with vegetables but farm-to-patient,” she joked. Their personal involvement with their patient has manifested a program in which they make it possible for people with terminal illnesses, or who are especially in need, to receive their products for free.
“One [of our patients] has endometriosis of the pancreas,” Leatrice Good said. “She’s in her mid-thirties and she’s wheelchair bound and sick all the time. She’s on a limited income and can’t afford her medication.” ERH supplies her with medication at no cost.
There is a dispensary in San Diego and a couple in the Bay Area that feature ERH flowers, but most of their customer base consists of members of the collective who go straight to the source for their medicine. The business has prospered by word-of-mouth. The ERH brand is also becoming nationally-known. Their merchandise featuring the ERH logo has become popular through the company’s social media accounts. “I find it so interesting that people who have never even tried our product are asking about our merchandise,” Leatrice Good said, “We have a lot of people wanting our hats and t-shirts.” They plan to begin selling merchandise on their website in response to the numerous requests.
Besides merchandise, another business venture has kept Leatrice Good busy: her increasingly popular “Humboldt Hackaway.” The ground at ERH is crawling with wild herbs with curative properties, which Leatrice Good grinds into the tincture. It’s is meant to do just what its name suggests: loosen up that notoriously muggy Norcal mucous. Their most prized herb remains cannabis, though, and their plants are blooming and almost ready for harvest.
Written by Marissa Papanek
For more information, visit ElkRidgeHolistic.com.