Cannabis Cultivator Hilary Clarkson witnessed smoke encroaching from the fires up north about a week before they reached her. One morning she woke up at 7 a.m. in the San Lorenzo Valley in the Santa Cruz Mountains to see ash falling everywhere. Since Clarkson was off the grid, her family was not evacuated. She had to drive through 3.5 miles of flames to get to safety. Now, a year later, additional California fires rage on, threatening and burning a whole new harvest.
At the time, Clarkson was the operations manager of Old School Farms, a licensed medical marijuana farm formerly in Santa Cruz Mountain Organic Growers’ Service. Half of her cannabis crop, even though it didn’t burn down, was destroyed by smoke damage.
“We had already harvested and were trimming. We saved at least half of our crop because it was already encapsulated in storage tubs when we evacuated,” says Clarkson.
During the week-long evacuation, meth-heads who knew there was abandoned cannabis in the area attempted to loot the farmers’ harvests. Cultivators who were defending their property fired gunshots to ward off looters. “It was pretty harrowing,” says the self-described, peaceful “hippie chick.”
Clarkson was so traumatized by last year’s California wildfires that she packed up and relocated to Maine. Some of her friends and fellow farmers remained.
Redding is currently being devastated by the Carr Fire. Many residents blame the fires on climate change, which has prolonged the fire season.
“Whenever you’re near a California wildfire, you run the risk of losing power for multiple days. We’ve had our plants in the dark for several days, which caused our plants to have major stress-created pollination and minor mold issues,” said Ray Schiavone, CEO, and Co-founder of Tahoe Hydroponics.
Tahoe Hydroponics are collaborating with their friends over at Alien Labs to raise money for families who are negatively affected by the Carr fire.
“Nothing is more heartbreaking than hearing about people losing their lives, especially the children in the Carr Fire. We send condolences to everyone who has been negatively affected,” says Schiavone.
At press time, they have raised almost $8,000 so far, via a GoFundMe account.