It began with a vision that laws were going to change. With seven founding farmers, True Humboldt was born with a mission to create a farmer-focused, farmer-funded, cannabis brand.
True Humboldt is a co-op like network of local cannabis farmers with sun-grown products. The groups works with the Humboldt Sun Growers Guild, a hub for local farmers, to help get local product out of the area. Together the two companies support, advocate, market and help with resources.
The founders of True Humboldt aim to create a network of farmers who work together, instead of compete, to create a platform as a premium for quality over quantity.
Chrystal Ortiz is the operations manager at True Humboldt. She says that most outdoor branding has to do with economy — one can get more product cheaper. “We want to make it about quality, not just the cheap way,” she said.
At a women’s grow summit in Denver, Colorado, Ortiz heard someone from Harvard Business Review say, “Culture is the glue that binds an organization together, and it’s the hardest thing for competitors to copy.”
Ortiz said that line speaks to what they have at True Humboldt. “We have over 60 farmers and they all have a piece of our culture,” she said. “It’s about our sustainability, environment, our economy, our community and our culture.”
True Humboldt wants to nod to the original growers of this area. “We’re not trying to say we’re the best in Humboldt,” Ortiz said. “We’re just trying to nod to the culture.”
The focus of the group is to go back to the land, Ortiz said, and brand Humboldt as the place where the cannabis is premium, thanks to the community values.
“Humboldt cannabis used to be know as the best bud,” she said. “Now it’s just where you can get the most. Sun-grown deserves a place on the top shelf.”
As an agriculture-like co-op, their primary focus is to help farmers diversify their revenue stream, to become fully compliant and to follow the best management practices.
True Humboldt self regulates. They test everything that comes in and goes out to ensure the brand is never associated with pesticides.
When a farmer brings in a sample, and it passes their tests, True Humboldt will make it available on their website. Dispensaries can then call Ortiz and order from the farmer.
“We want to see small family farmers have fair access to the market and given the opportunity to brand our culture and our lifestyle,” Ortiz says.
Sunshine Johnson, a member of the HSGG from Sunboldt Grown, says True Humboldt always represents sun-grown product and supports all farmers. “The intention was to give a nod back to the land,” she said. “And no one hustles like [the] Sun Growers Guild.”
Every Monday from noon to 5 p.m., True Humboldt hosts “farmer intake days.” Farmers can go in and learn about the benefits of the Humboldt Sun Growers Guild, which includes discounts on local products and farm supplies, discounts on soil and strain testing, and advocacy and lobbying at the local and state level.
One of True Humboldt’s founding farmers, Sequoia Hudson, said members think of themselves as craftsmen because what they do is “an art passed down and learned from other farmers.”
She said True Humboldt is about the idea of collaborating with others in the community and what it really means to be from Humboldt — “not just farmers that come here to grow weed.” True Humboldt started for farmers to share their product and collaborate to make Humboldt cannabis known for its quality again.
“True Humboldt is trying to put the story of our community out there,” Hudson said. “It has to do with the time and commitment the farmers put into their product. They make sure it’s quality.”
Ortiz’s thinks of the farmers as craftsmen because, “We are growing something that will be used as medicine,” she said. “It takes a level of skill and awareness. People fine tune their product, knowing it will be used for someone who is sick.”
“We are who we are authentically,” Hudson said. “We want to tell our story and share what we’ve created all these years.”