Years ago, long before big business and politics changed the California cannabis landscape forever, Casey O’Neill and his family began tilling the earth in northern Mendocino County.
It was simple and good work, but it wasn’t easy. With time and sweat, the family took 20 acres of marginal land on a sloping grade and turned their home into three small sustainable grows, called HappyDay Farms.
“We’ve had to fight for every garden bed we’ve got,” O’Neill says. “We started with rock and clay, and we subtracted the rock very laboriously through hand labor. And we’ve slowly, but surely been working toward building soil with compost. Our soil has become pretty rich and nice at this point. We’re really happy about that, but it’s been a very difficult process. I don’t really have the ability to scale up, and I also don’t want to.”
Only in the past year has O’Neill felt the sudden, pressing need to scale up at all. In 2016, Proposition 64 teed up a taxed and regulated marketplace for cannabis cultivation and distribution in California. As with most