My interview with Wendy Kornberg, cannabis cultivating Mama from Humboldt County.
We adore this amazing cultivating FireWoman!
She grows, she cooks, she caretakes, she creates, she heals, she counsels, she advocates, AND she leads. Now we aren’t promoting that we ALL have to “do it all”, it just so happens this particular woman does DO all those things, and does so in an authentic way making her irresistible!
Wendy has a wealth of knowledge and experience, she is also unique in her niche as it has been so dominated by men. She is well organized, highly intelligent and is able to manage a number of tasks on various platforms. In our opinion, making her a lethal force in the industry. The best aspect being, her whole-hearted devotion to and respect for the healing properties of this plant, from seed to sale. We believe it to be one of her most precious commodities.
Please enjoy learning more about Ms. Wendy Kornberg.
Thank you so much Wendy for your time and valuable insight today! Let’s start with a little about you, please share in your own words, who you are and what you do:
WK: I am a second-generation cannabis cultivator in Southern Humboldt County. I have always had a passion for science and gardening, and cannabis is the perfect blend of the two. My family and I own a small ranch on the banks of the Eel river, near the Humboldt County line, where we cultivate cannabis. We use natural, organic methods, and take great pride in cultivating with sustainability, posterity, and the environment in mind. Land stewardship is paramount in our cultivation practices. We utilize ancient agricultural methods, such as fermented plant juices and compost tea, and newer technology like drip line irrigation, in order to create the most synergistic products we can. The cannabis that is cultivated on our property is done so specifically with patients in mind. The flowers are marketed to dispensaries and directly to patients at events throughout the year, and the small bits and pieces that have no bag appeal or prettiness to them are utilized for salve, cooking oil, and other products. I also love crafting, so I’m constantly coming up with new and creative ideas to utilize every part of the plant in a way that is greatly beneficial for both our bodies and souls.
What has your experience been as a woman in the cannabis industry? Do you feel women are truly dominating cannabis as represented in the media?:
WK: It’s been an interesting journey as a woman in this industry. In my area of California there is still a very strong underlying ideology that the men grow and the women sit and trim, and I don’t think our area is much different than the rest of the state. Even at our farm I often have to belabor and argue my point and process; although that honestly may be more because the way I think is different than the fact that I’m a woman. The challenges women face is no different in cannabis than in any other industry; inherent sexism, lower pay, slower promotions or being passed over for a job, and a more difficult time being taken seriously. There are people we don’t do business with anymore because they couldn’t understand that they needed to talk to me and not my partner. I’ve also experienced being passed over for jobs. I used to run a trim crew and had bugged the boss for years to hire me as a farmer. He kept hiring other people with less experience that never worked out. Eventually a neighbor offered me a job growing, and that enabled me to save enough to be able to buy our commercial property. It’s ironic, since women are traditionally credited with being gardeners, but it seems that once a certain scale is achieved it’s thought that a man must be in charge. I think the problem really lies with the paradigm in our society that things that are wildly successful are the result of a man’s work. We do see that changing, but it’s a very slow process and can be maddeningly infuriating at times.
As a knowledgeable industry professional, in your opinion, what is the ideal balance between regulation/compliance and reality/practicality for California cannabis cultivation?:
WK: I think that regulation is an incredibly important part of this process. Unfortunately, most regulations and rules are created by people who are not aware of the limitations of farming. They’re looking at this as a drug rather than an herb. Cannabis is not a standard agricultural crop. There are definitely many problems that are unique to cannabis, and I think that growing at a large scale will impact this plant in a very negative way. Many people use cannabis for self medication, so even though they are “just getting high” there’s a real reason behind it. We know that stress is very deadly and kills people on a daily basis, and yet people who use cannabis to self medicate for stress reduction are thought of negatively. It is this negative connotation that has been prevalent for so long in our country that people have a hard time moving past it. This is incredibly sad to me, as there are so many beneficial uses for this herb. The government has been anti-cannabis for so long that people are having a very difficult time seeing beyond the drug war.
I believe very strongly in cannabis as a medicine, and as such, there do need to be standards set in place.
However, those standards should not be so restrictive that the people who have been doing this and keeping this industry alive for decades will be cut out. . Right now, especially in Humboldt county, it is incredibly difficult to get a permit to legally grow cannabis. The only permits that have been issued so far that I am aware of our for very large multi acre farm. These are from people who had enough money to hire large teams of lawyers to push their permit through for them. Our county is trying very hard, as is the state, but unfortunately they are also making this very much about business and capitalism. There is less and less space for small farmers in this industry. The cost of compliance is so high that many people are not able to pursue permits even if they wanted to. Should cannabis be considered an herb, and treated as such, it would be much more realistic for people to be able to continue farming on a small scale.
I have sought out and tried to be a part of the process as much as I can.
But most of us are busy farming, farming and trying to pursue permits, and regulation, and understanding laws on our own leaves very little time for being as involved in the political process as we would like. Currently developing regulation cannabis is being over-regulated. I think that we will see more and more of that capitalism is going to win out, small farms are going to go under, the black market will continue, and the quality of the medicine available will decrease. Cannabis on a large scale will never be able to compete with the quality of the cannabis from a small farm, and a small farm will never be able to compete with the price points of a large farm. It is highly problematic, and I think we will see more and more that it will be big business as usual. I still hope and pray that the small farms will be able to stay afloat by creating cooperatives and the like, but even that becomes difficult when you are trying to get your crop in, or figure out your branding and marketing capabilities.
Can you speak a little to your process in regards to many of the products you have created, what has been your inspiration in creating so many helpful medicinal products?:
WK: I firmly believe that cannabis really can cure almost any ailment and if it’s crafted and combined correctly with other immune supportive herbs and oils you can get amazing results in a fairly short period of time. Every product I’ve created has been inspired by a friend or family member. Basically I start with the general ailment that a family member has and research the hell out of it. I think about what result I want to achieve and make sure that everything I add to my initial base oil supports those results.
You are a mother yourself, please share the 3 most important things you feel all CannaMoms should know about consuming cannabis:
WK: The first and most important thing to know would be that different strains and methods of ingestion will create different effects in your body. Someone who is a heavy smoker and has a high tolerance for smoking may be exactly the opposite when it comes to edibles. Just because you are a heavy smoker does not necessarily mean that you will be able to take a dab without getting severely affected. Sometimes it is less about the percent of THC and more about the way the different compounds terpenes interact in your body. Secondly, I highly recommend when trying a new product or strain to make sure you have some childcare before you begin. You never know if packaging is exact, or if you will have an adverse reaction to something. And finally, dosage dosage dosage! Make sure that you start with A very low-dose, wait a few hours after ingestion, see how you’re feeling, and then slowly increase if you need to. Remember, if you get too high, you’re not dying. Just breathe and try to ride it out, and know that next time your dosage should be much lower. So many people I know I’ve accidentally ingested way too much because they did not know their tolerance level.
In conclusion, what advice do you have for anyone thinking of getting into the cannabis space today?
WK: Honestly, it’s probably too late to be jumping in now. The price keeps dropping and the expenses keep going up. The dispensaries are the only ones really getting rich that I know of, and you’d need a few million to get that started; not to mention permits are looking to be extremely difficult to secure. From the outside it seems like an easy way to make a few million, but the reality is we work 80 hours per week (seriously!) for maybe a couple hundred dollars per pound of profit. It’s estimated that $95,325 per year is the optimal salary for happiness (cost-of-living data data from the Council for Community & Economic Research,) which means you would need to grow between 4,500 and 10,000 pounds annually in order to afford yourself and your family with an ideal income. For our small farm this is an astronomical number, and I have no idea how anyone would be able to produce high-quality medicine at that large of a scale. There is certainly room for innovators and motivated people, but it is a very tenuous time for cannabis and I think that unless you have already started down this path, perhaps it is a better idea to wait it out for a few years and see where you fit in later.
Thank you Wendy, for your valuable insight and perspective into these very vital issues facing the cannabis industry right now. We want to make sure everyone is aware of the status and implications of all this change being it truly impacts everyone from the cultivators to the patients/caregivers. It is our hope through conversations like these that people are learning and understanding more, starting to ask more questions from a desire of a deeper understanding. Especially from an audience that doesn’t necessarily consume, there is a recognition that even though they may not consume they recognize there is a value in understanding more about cannabis.
You can follow Wendy on social media and we highly encourage you to do so. She regularly posts informative videos on happenings, as well as various educational videos about cultivating cannabis, and her experiences with various methods, processes and products. If you are a grower or considering a home grown please watch her videos, it will be immensely educational, she doesn’t try to sell you anything but shares what does work for her! Invaluable information all via your mobile device.
As always, to our faithful readers, thank you for your time!