Lindsey Renner is the Founder, CEO, and head grower at Native Humboldt Farms. From regenerative techniques to regulations, living soil to licensure – Lindsey is a tour de force within the west coast weed world, and she is just getting started.
I first met Lindsey and her Husband Jon in late 2021 at the Emerald Cup’s inaugural Harvest Ball. For the uninitiated, Harvest Ball is a bacchanal of bud from all over California. The purpose of my pilgrimage was to see what was up with sun-grown cannabis. I headed off the usual hype bud and brands and honed in on the homies and heroes from the Emerald Triangle, the birthplace of West Coast cannabis culture, community, and commerce.
Amid this carnival of cannabis, distractions abound. Nevertheless, I found myself fascinated by Native’s premium nugs. The bud grown at Native Humboldt Farms just seemed to call to me in an oddly spiritual way: Small-batch, craft cannabis grown only by hand using only the pure light of the California sunshine. “The buds embody everything!” Renner tells me. Your energy transfers to the plant, and the result of your love, time, and attention allows the cannabis to express her full potential!”
I came for the cannabis, but I stayed for the stories.
To say that Renner’s roots run deep would be an understatement. Born and raised in Humboldt, she is indigenous to the Wailaki Tribe. The Wailaki were native to Humboldt County before being pushed onto reservations in a neighboring county.
“Cultivating cannabis, I found my true self. The plant cultivated me into the person that was always there but completely traumatized and broken by the world.”
Growing up, she had no knowledge of, or access to, her heritage. She was raised by her biological mother and adoptive father, who intended to ensure Lindsey remained out of touch with her biological father and her native American roots. “They would just tell me my biological and grandparents were ‘Marijuana farmers’ and, therefore, bad people who didn’t want me.”
Despite these best efforts to occult Lindsey’s authentic origin story, her legend seems to be written in the stars because when Lindsey makes a decision she feels passionate about, it is as if the universe itself conspires to make it happen.
A convergence of apparently unrelated circumstances, trials, and tribulations continued throughout the early days of Lindsey’s young adult and into her adult life.
Some of these circumstances were so profoundly traumatic that few (including myself) would have had the capacity to summon the form of pure power she did to push on. Nevertheless, she persisted, putting one foot in front of the other.
In hindsight, she tells me, “This was the path that for some reason I was kind of required to walk, to reconnect with my native roots, my heritage, my true home, my people’s ancestral land!”
Lindsey Was not always the Head Grower for Native Humboldt Farms, and Lindsey’s Husband Jon is just as big a part of this story as he is a part of her life. From 2008-2014, her Husband Jon was the lead cultivator on this hollowed land in Southern Humboldt.
Early in their relationship, Renner was a self-described stay-at-home mom and did not play a prominent role in cultivating and caring for their cannabis. “Jon was responsible for everything cultivation-related, and I helped where I could, but mostly I just soaked it all in,” Lindsey told me.
This unofficial pot plant practicum through her Husband Jon represents what a true partnership is all about. During this time, Lindsey became a diligent student of her Husband’s craft, learning the fundamentals and finer points of growing pot directly and via osmosis. Two humans on a shared mission to perpetuate the sacred plant.
In 2015 Lindsay became head grower after a fire pushed Jon off the property. She cultivated by herself for five years, and Jon returned in 2020.
“I am eternally grateful for him, and all honesty, the lion’s share of our arguments are about how to apply jute trellis or how much potassium we will apply during veg.” Lindsey and John are two people on a shared mission to perpetuate the sacred plant.
Plant Medicine with Purpose
Through her connection to cannabis, over time, Renner came to realize her reason for existing was to produce, promote, and protect cannabis as the sacred plant we know it is. To use Lindsey’s own words: “I am here on earth to act as a vessel to speak for the plant, as she doesn’t have legs or a thunderous voice, so she can’t do all the heavy-lifting alone!
Suppose action is the seed of fate and deeds grow into destiny. In that case, Lindsey Renner is one of the few individuals working to sow the seeds for the future of the regulated cannabis marketplace, community, and culture.
At Native Humboldt Farms, they are cultivating plant medicine for a purpose. “The buds embody everything!” Renner tells me. Your energy transfers to the plant, and the result of your love, time, and attention allow cannabis to express her full potential!”
Lindsey uses the plant species naturally found on her land to create compost teas and nutrient blends that nourish her nugs.
Juices from her blackberries and nettles are fermented during veg to help the young plants flourish. During the flowering phase, she adds apples, raspberries, pears, peaches, and plums — a heady mixture of agricultural science and alchemy.
This level of attention – and perhaps intention – that Lindsey shows her plants make for potent medicine that produces profound terpene profiles.
“In my tribe, they do believe in spiritual beings, forces, and that spirits are present in all things.” This belief, in my opinion, appears to be the source of much of Lindsey’s prowess for growing the plant. She has an ability to communicate with her cultivars in a very tangible way.
Lindsey recounted a memory of her early days acting as Head Grower and how the cannabis plants themselves could communicate. “I was applying kelp to their leaves, and I am not even kidding that you immediately see, with a foliar spray, their leaves start to perk up. They are literally thankful for it…they know you are giving them nutrients, energy, and care, and it changed my life.”
When I asked her about how she accumulated such an acumen for growing weed, she told me, “It was like a download” from the plant or perhaps even her ancestors themselves. They tapped in and showed her the way.
It was not long before Lindsey learned that the attention, energy, and love she gave to these plants were given right back to her. A truly respectful relationship built on reciprocity and guided by doing things properly for the love of the plant. “I get up in the morning; I am active all day. That is the secret.”, Lindsey told me, “I get up every day and put one foot in front of the other. I feel like as long as I do that, everything seems to line out.”
I spoke to Lindsey about the future of Cannabis in California. While Renner is a relentless optimist, she is also very much a realist with a refreshing point of view on the need for action to preserve the future for the cannabis farmer. She offered me her take on what must change to avoid calamity within the California Cannabis market.
JR: What do you see as the main threat to the livelihood of cannabis farmers currently?
LR: One of the most significant issues facing the California cannabis farmer is getting shelf space in cannabis retail establishments. The lack of allowance for retail sales is one of the main factors that has led to an oversupply of product.
JR: Would it be safe to say you believe these are failures by California’s state and local government?
LR: Absolutely. They gave out too many cultivation licenses, allowed people to stack them, and did not allow enough retail permits. That is a failure of the regulators.
JR: In your eyes, what are the potential solutions?
LR: A potential solution is the state gets involved! (laughter)…and they start attempting to remedy some of the issues we see from Proposition 64. The market has been trying to function for a few years now, and it is time for the state to look back at the issues we’re facing, make changes in the law, and move toward getting solutions in place.
JR: Is it just as simple as opening more retail space for cannabis?
LR: We need more retails. A lot of people don’t open brick and mortar storefronts because of the high taxes as well. So, there are not enough retails, and then that retail has an extremely high excise tax. Then you have city and local ordinances that tack on extra cannabis taxes on top of the state sales tax. These create enormously problematic barriers that keep farmers from competing, selling their products, and making a living. We need to be able to open more retails, we need more of California to open up and allow retails, and we need sweeping tax reform so that more people can participate.
JR: Taxes are an overlapping issue for sure across the board, it is apparent. Speaking of the State of California, congratulations on being appointed a Cultivation Ambassador role for the CA State Fair Cannabis Awards!
LR: Thank you so much! I am very excited for sure. It’s a tremendous honor and genuinely significant for cannabis to be recognized like this in general, with the state fair.
JR: Anything, in particular, you hope to accomplish with that platform?
LR: What I am hoping for, honestly, is that the platform as a cultivation Ambassador can get me a meeting with Gavin Newsom. Now that California is acknowledging cannabis as an industry and being recognized at the California State Fair, I hope they will see our legitimacy. We can start to get some meetings between farmers and state officials, the higher-ups, you know? Then we can get into it and see if we can form some real solutions for farmers.
JR: What would you tell Governor Newsom if given the opportunity?
LR: I would say first and foremost that the task of regulating an unregulated market is enormous. And I do appreciate any effort the state has made to regulate this industry. Now that we have been in this industry operating for a few years, following the regulations as a farmer, manufacturer, distributor, and retailer, I can see these rampant issues within prop. 64 clear as day, so I am sure that the State of California, Gavin Newsom, and Jeanine Coleman at the DCC (Department of Cannabis Control) can absolutely see these issues.
It is currently a failing system, and we need to make substantial changes. We need to act quickly and work together, and the time is now.
Feature Photo: Lindsey Renner. Photo Credit – Isabella Renner