Today we are talking about travel. People all over the world are familiar with the Emerald Triangle. For the last 50 years, this corner of California has been supplying the entire country with cannabis. Often overlooked in this trifecta is Trinity County. I spoke with Judi Nelson, the proprietor of Sol Spirit Retreats in Trinity County, right on the county line between Humboldt and Trinity in the Emerald Triangle. Judi and her Husband Walter provide an elevated cannabis tourism experience, and through their retreats, they help guests live their highest purpose.
JR: First off, what is Glamping?
JN: (Laughter) GLAMPING is Glamourous Camping. It’s camping with complete beds and fluffy towels! (laughter) you don’t have to do any of the set-up or work yourself. It is all about getting the opportunity to be in nature, enjoying all that camping has to offer while not leaving any of your creature comforts behind (laughter).
JR: I am very familiar with (and a big fan of) Sol Spirit Farm and the Weed you and Walter grow. What is the deal with Sol Spirit Retreats?
Sol Spirit Retreats is our take on Glamping and our Bud-and-breakfast. The Glamping is located on the same property as our Licensed, certified regeneratively grown cannabis farm—10,000 Sqft of light deps.
There are six guest tents, and one can host up to two people. Each tent can be set up with a king-sized bed or two Twin-sized beds. Our guests sleep in comfy beds under the stars and are served farm-to-table meals. Anything we don’t source from our farm directly, we source from organic farms around our community!
JR: Other than smoking excellent weed, what activities are available?
JN: We live on a wild and scenic river! So, one of the best things to do while visiting is to go on a river float trip. That can be anything from adrenaline-pumping white water or a relaxing float or kayak down the river.
Of course, we take our guests on a farm tour. Walter, my husband, has been cultivating this property for more than 20 years. He leads the tours, and people are excited to learn about regenerative cannabis farming and sustainable lifestyle strategies!
JR: It sounds incredible. When and how did you get started with Sol Spirit Retreats?
JN: We have been building this permaculture-designed homestead for more than 20 years. Walter and I were growers in the Prop. 215 days and we always really wanted to be able to host retreats and guests at our property. We always thought we would have to stop growing to feel comfortable inviting people to the farm. Now, once regulation happened, one of the benefits is that it allowed us to continue to grow our Cannabis here to welcome guests.
It has always been our dream to be able to share this place with people. We never thought Cannabis would be allowed to be integrated into that experience, so it brings us great joy to be able to share our space and way of life with guests from all over. Of course, there are rules (laughter).
JR: Glad you mentioned that let’s speak briefly about legality – I see other similar takes on the bud-and-breakfast that seems to be sorely lacking in the bud department.
JN: Absolutely. When we applied for our license, we were able to separate the licensed premises from where the actual “glamping” occurs. So, it is maybe 100 feet away, and you won’t be Glamping inside a greenhouse (laughter). The glamping site is extremely close by, but because it is not a part of our licensed farm premises, it is essentially like an Airbnb on the same property as our permitted cannabis farm.
JR: I feel like interacting with the plant is an essential aspect of this experience. At Sol Spirit Retreats, can your guests get the “full taste” of Trinity County and the Emerald Triangle’s finest?
JN: (Laughter) The short answer is yes. We don’t explicitly “include” or “offer” any cannabis as a part of booking your stay, and we do not offer an experience that could ever be mistaken for sales in any shape or form.
That said, one can assume that there will indeed be Cannabis at a cannabis farm.
JR: Well said. I read you loud and clear. What about getting up close and personal with the crop?
JN: Yes, Walter and I do farm tours within the licensed premises. There are some fundamental and practical limitations to what areas guests have access to, but yes, you will get up close and personal with the plants…which is amazing.
JR: How has the experience been so far?
JN: Everything has been going very well! There are limitations on advertising in Cannabis, which has been a challenge for sure…as far as being able to get the word out about the retreats. Even though Sol Spirit Retreats is not a plant-touching business, we are still really limited in finding places where we are allowed to talk about it and try to get the word out.
But overall? It’s been going great! I know every person who has visited has a great experience, and that means the world to Walter and me, and we have more room for guests this coming summer.
JR: I must ask, what made you want to open the farm to guests this way?
JN: My friends, when I first told them I was going to do this, all thought I was utterly insane. Of course, as you know, for many years, the Emerald Triangle has been a closed community, and outsiders weren’t particularly welcome for safety reasons, among others.
For me, it’s about normalizing Cannabis. It is not a big deal. It’s a plant that grows in the ground, and it helps people, and people enjoy it. We are just farmers!
Farming is traditionally looked at as a wholesome activity, which is precisely what’s going on here. It is a farm, and plants are growing, there are animals, it is entirely wholesome, and I want people to experience that. Remove the outdated stigmas.
JR: Would you encourage other small farms to diversify and get involved in cannabis tourism?
JN: Absolutely! Any tourism associated with their farm will provide a cushion. If you are a small farm anywhere, you must diversify your income and revenue streams. I mean, regardless of the market, farming is risky. Agrotourism across the world is extremely popular, and for a good reason. People want to see where their food comes from. We are no different. People want to know where their Cannabis comes from finally!
Specifically for the small cannabis farmers of the Emerald Triangle right now, the “market forces” in California very much favor the industrial agriculture model. So, part of this is about telling the story of regenerative farming, showing people there are solutions.
JR: Can you tease a little about “Emerald Farm Revealed Tours” I hear so much about?
JN: In the effort to get the ball rolling with cannabis tourism in the Emerald Triangle, several other farmers from across the Triangle and I are developing an immersive cannabis vacation experience!
Some of the people participating are Walter and me, Johnny (Casali) and Rose from Huckleberry Hill, Five Sisters Farm, and one more yet to be announced farm in Willow Creek. The goal is that people will come and have this well-rounded experience where you get to do all the things that make the emerald Triangle special, the authentic insider experience led by locals. We are hosting it twice this summer, so I will keep you posted, and everyone should follow along!
JR: Well, I’m sold. Where can people find more information on Sol Spirit Retreats, and where can they book their stay?
JN: Well, the best and most direct way is on solspiritretreats.com – if people are more comfortable, we have also been listed on Airbnb.com since 2018. There is also hipcamp.com, and budandbreakfast.com, and please follow our socials on Instagram for the farm itself @solspiritfarms and Sol Spirit Retreats @solspiritretreats.