Northern California’s family owned heritage cannabis farms are fighting for their place in the emerging legal cannabis market. After decades of secrecy and prohibition, with legalization on the horizon, it’s time to share their history and make a plan for the future.
About The Project
We’ve seen a flurry of news and media covering cannabis legalization, but we have not yet heard from the farmers who built this industry. This project is about providing a space for those voices to be heard.
Family Trees offers an opportunity for our community to be the authors of their own history, no longer silent witnesses to its writing.
With unparalleled access to multiple generations of Cannabis farmers and growers, Family Trees offers an exclusive opportunity for unique into this never before seen family oriented American community.
Telling the prohibition era tales of farmers in the black market raising children, building a healthy community, growing crops, eluding helicopters, local, state, and federal police task forces, and sometimes getting busted. Some lose farm and family, some earn a modest living for their families and some seek an epic fortune for themselves. Everyone has a story to tell.
Nestled deep in the hills of Northern California’s coastal mountains, the Emerald Triangle is at the hidden heart of America’s cannabis economy. Once known for a booming timber trade, the small towns speckling this region’s rural counties have acquired a reputation for the quantity and quality of cannabis that they produce. At the end of the 20th century, when the lumber industry began to fail, black market cannabis grew into the new economic gaps, supporting families and communities throughout the area. Now, while a nationwide movement to legalize marijuana gathers pace, farmers in the Emerald Triangle are wondering how their industry will change and if they will be able to change with it.
Behind this moment of change lies a familiar American tale about small industry and life on the frontier. In the 1970’s, following the hippie movement, young people left city centers to homestead remote rural parts of the Northwest. There they made unlikely mergers with communities of conservative loggers and lived a delicate truce based on a similar live and let live ideology. The new homesteading families discovered they could support their independent lifestyles by growing small crops of marijuana. An industry was born and, despite opposition, it eventually supplanted the old one. Greenhouses and gardens now stand tall atop the hills that once echoed with the sounds of logging trucks and chainsaws. Laws slowly changed. The medical marijuana industry developed as a gray market operating parallel to black market recreational sales.
Seeing economic opportunity in California’s changing cannabis industry, newcomers have flocked to the fields. While a “green rush” takes the state by storm, and California’s legislature considers how and when to legalize, family farms begin the familiar process of starting seeds and turning soil. We’ll follow these farmers through the 2016 growing season and, as they tend what may be their last outlaw crop, we’ll learn about the history, culture, and values of this hidden world struggling to emerge into the light of a legal market.
The Family Trees feature length documentary is currently in production and is scheduled for release in 2017. Our team is also exploring options for serial episodic, podcast and additional formats.
Please watch our trailer, visit our website, and offer what you can.