Q&A with Moon Made Farms

Moon Made Farms is a 40-acre farm in Southern Humboldt County, their work guided by a connection to the living plant that cannabis, its environment, and we as consumers all share. They represent the best kind of cannabis-centric brand, one who sees their mission as much larger than simply profiting of the plant we all love. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Tina Gordon, founder and owner of Moon Made Farms, and ask her about what inspires her work, the cannabis-related causes and endeavours that matter most to her and her company, and how she sees the business and artistry of cannabis growing as a whole.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your name:

Cannabis is arguably the most powerful plant on the planet and it expresses in the female form. The elements of this plant that get us high, this is the chemical expression of this flower’s mating call. In many cultures, the moon is the symbol of femininity, while the sun is the symbol of masculinity. Moon Made Farms is all about acknowledging the feminine…and how deeply it affects all living things. The light of the moon speaks to what is reflected, often hidden, precious, subtle intelligence that occupies a less visible and sometimes invisible space. This is why Lunar farming is an ancient and reliable practice and I found this through cultivating cannabis.

Years ago when I moved to Humboldt from San Francisco, I woke up in the middle of a spring night to a full blue moon flooding the room with blue light. I stepped outside and walked around with total visibility under the full moon. I was starting to grow cannabis at the time and I thought, “how is the moon affecting this photo sensitive plant right now?” This inspired me to look into lunar farming and I started tuning into the light of the moon, the subtleties of that light, and the consistent phases over a monthly schedule. This was my initiation to farming by the moon. I began tuning into natural forces in general – not only the broad strokes but getting into the subtleties. Whereas the sun is omnipresent with light that sustains daylife, the moon’s subtle nightly shifts in reflected light reveal nightlife. I began questioning what happens during the night cycle both above and below the ground. How important is what we don’t see relative to what we see?

Can you remember the cannabis strain or experience that made you fall in love with it?
I fell in love with this plant the first season I had the opportunity to grow from seed through full flower. We were doing tie-down back then which was like doing yoga to create plant sculpture with cannabis. It’s a beautiful practice of trellising plants to maximize sun exposure and basically creating a sea of green with an enormous seed plant. Through this challenging and fulfilling experience, I came to know this plant intimately through daily observation and using all of my senses. I became aware of the plant’s structure through every phase, saw daily micro growth in the leaves and stems, smelled subtle shifts in the plant’s chemistry into maturity, and could hear the soil absorbing water or tea when it was properly hydrating. I began visualizing the plant through its phases from seed to flower to anticipate their needs. This was when I began starting and finishing every waking day with thoughts of the plants and knew I was in love. Some of the strains that year were Mazar and Grape Ape…this was many years ago.

Why did you pick the location for MoonMade Farms? What about it makes it ideal for the strains that you grow?
I didn’t pick the location for Moon Made Farms, the location picked me! I had the great privilege to purchase this parcel of land that was a heritage cultivation site in the heart of the Emerald Triangle. This happened through a serendipitous course of events that ultimately lead back to playing music. I was a drummer for many years and the woman who owned this land before me was an amazing jazz drummer named Joani Hannan. I directed and produced a documentary about her called Joani Queen of the Paradiddle. Once I transitioned onto the land there were several years of trial and error over several seasons that led me, and now my partner Chris, to find the genetics and practices that resonate with this land. That all comes full circle to appellations of origin and regenerative farming. Every year we dig deeper into regenerative practices, and every year the results improve. The formula is rooted in allowing the land and the genetics to guide us and for us to be present and devoted to this land and the plants we grow.

Education and activism seem to be very central to what you do at Moon Made. What causes are most important to you right now?
Regenerative farming, even on the smallest scale, impacts the planet’s health and the ecosystems that influence it. Embracing regenerative practices can help improve water holding capacity on the land and in the soil, soil fertility biodiversity, nutrient density in food crops and cannabinoid and terpene profiles in cannabis. The act of farming plants can contribute to the ecosystem instead of taking from the ecosystem. The net impacts are astounding when you consider closing loops on the land. From carbon sequestration to forest health and fire mitigation to reducing fossil fuel use. When a farm catches rain water and cultivates crops in the ground in living soil, utilizing inputs from the land in full sun and open air, that’s when the crop is giving back to the land instead of taking from the land. I’d love to see policies that support farmers who are embracing and transitioning to regenerative practices.

Implementing a terroir based Appellations of Origin program in California could bring attention and focus to the unique characteristics of plants grown in different regions as an expression of the unique regions they come from. Cannabis flower, like other life enhancing delights such as wine, coffee, chocolate, hops, and tea, have the capacity to reflect the essence of a place in a concentrated form. When a consumer smokes flower grown in the semi-arid oak groves of the Palo Verde region of southern Humboldt County, it will smell, taste, and may affect them differently then the same cultivar dry farmed in alluvial flats in Holmes Flat in mid Humboldt or Briceland on the forested west side of Humboldt. This is important because it could connect people to the geographic source, the unique place where this cannabis was grown, and through this experience they may tune into that place and develop an appreciation for the natural forces that influence that place. And perhaps this could encourage people to protect and love the natural world.

Cultural preservation in cannabis is about remembering and honoring the heritage Emerald Triangle communities responsible for stewarding and protecting this incredible plant through the passage that has enabled global accessibility to cannabis. These are the people who relentlessly persevered through prohibition to cultivate, innovate, and advocate for increased and broad access to this plant. I think it’s important to remember that before CAMP launched in 1983 (campaign against marijuana planting) the majority of Emerald Triangle growers cultivated this plant outside as it’s been grown for millennia the world over. I’d love to see the majority of cannabis grown outside under the sun and in open air where environments allow. And for people to return to a DIY ethos of growing a couple of plants along with vegetables and flowers. To grow this plant is to understand why it’s precious enough to protect and share.

I’d love to see more low potency THC and mixed ratio flower reach people as it offers great benefits to help improve the quality of life for so many people. Low potency Type 1 THC and Type 2 or mixed ration CBD:THC cultivars are presently underrepresented in the retail market. The higher value placed upon high THC flower and products reinforces a mythology that more is better, whereas it’s highly likely that moderate is better. Does the percentage caffeine, sugar, alcohol determine the quality or value of a cup of coffee, a piece of chocolate, a craft bottle of wine or beer?

How would you describe the responsibility of cannabis brands and business leaders to also be activists?
What’s unique about being a cannabis brand right now is that we have the opportunity to help shape an emerging industry as well as shift the perception of plant medicine. I believe that plant medicine is the key to helping humanity improve quality of life while shifting consciousness to embrace a healthier perspective and healthier practices in relationship to living on a living planet. Ultimately humans are guests on this planet and have the opportunity during this critical time to make ourselves welcome or be asked to leave.

What strains or products are you most excited about right now?
I’m particularly excited about all of the Biovortex genetics we grew this season. The Cherry Moon and Orange Valley Sun were grown in the Ancient Gardens. The terpenes are coming in between 1.5%-4.0% with cannabinoids between 27%-31%.

What have been some of the main challenges you’ve faced in launching and managing Moonmade Farms?
The way policy affects the possibility of people cultivating or accessing flower grown outside is a different story. What I’d love to see is broad and open access to sungrown flower as well as encouraging people to grow their own for the experience. Like having a vegetable garden or herb garden, anybody anywhere should be able to do this whether that’s a backyard, a closet, basement, or window sill.

What excites you most about the future of cannabis?
Research, education, and international access to regenerative sungrown cannabis! I can’t wait to dig into appellations of origin research to determine how and why cultivars grow differently here then other places and connect with the people who are looking for cannabis grown in the heart of the Emerald Triangle.

What are some of your current favorite strains or products? Why?
I’m excited about the regenerative certifications like Sun + Earth and Dragonfly Earth Certified along with the farms and producers who are participating in these emerging programs. These certifications will help establish quality criteria and standards that match consumers to products that resonate with their chemistry, physiology, and ethos. It’s a pathway to allow consumers to source the flowers of their dreams and needs, and to make informed choices. Incredible farm reserves from farms like Sunboldt Farms, Briceland Forest Farms, Happy Day Farms, High Water Farms, Huckleberry Hill Farms, Sonoma Hills Farms and so many others will become more accessible through this increased awareness. Product brands like Cosmic View, Chemistry, and Oara, can reach this audience with their topicals, tinctures, and chocolates.

Any advice for someone who’s considering trying cannabis for the first time?
Dip your toes in multiple shallow ponds before cliff diving at high tide! I always suggest going with mixed ratio and tuning into different cannabinoid and terpene profiles to find what works for the individual. The endocannabinoid system is real and we all have one! Listen to your body and let your senses guide you to the flower that works best for you. This may change over time, for some people over the course of a day, for others the course of a year. Start with small quantities of multiple flowers. Trust your nose and inherent intelligence. Start ingesting low doses to find desired effects. I encourage people to explore in the afternoon when your biorhythms are at their lowest. It’s a great way to gauge whether a flower is enhancing relaxation or energy. While on this exploration, take note of how cannabis makes you feel and check in with yourself. Literally take notes! Be open to new experiences and possibilities. You may not know what the desired effect is until you experience it!

What would you tell someone who’s interested in getting started in cannabis cultivation?
I would encourage anyone interested in cultivating cannabis to start small and listen to the plant. Use all of your senses to relate to this plant and if you’re compelled to care for this plant then consider digging deeper. This plant deserves and requires attention beyond dedication, she responds to devotion.

What are your thoughts on indoor versus outdoor cultivation?
I strongly believe the great outdoors is the greatest grow room on earth! Everyone has a different way of relating to this highly intelligent plant. How this plant is cultivated depends entirely on the environment it’s being grown in. It was growing cannabis outside under an open sky with rain caught water, in the wind, among all of nature’s influences that encouraged me to wake up to the natural world. It was only then I realized I was living on a living planet and could experience what this means. Suddenly the quality of air, water, light, soil, the health of the forest, the wildlife, it all became visible as a system, an eco-system. Cannabis as a living plant helped me slow down enough to take in all of this information with my senses, it changed my life. This is a definitive difference between cultivating plants outside in open air as opposed to indoor or greenhouse. Sungrown cannabis grows within all of the dramatic and subtle natural elements and is truly a reflection of place.

What are your goals for 2021?
Our goals for 2021 are to hold and store as much water on the land as possible. To bring more biodiversity to our garden and integrate more creativity into everything we do! Biovortex is our primary genetics partner and we’re looking forward to growing additional Biovortex strains in addition to Cherry Moon, Orange Valley Sun and Sapphire Tsu.