Alicia Rose and Brant Hindman are the brilliant co-founders behind HerbaBuena, the first Demeter-certified biodynamic cannabis collective in California, and the broader United States. They've “come out of the cannabis closet and are hell-bent on helping others to do the same.“ After learning about their biodynamicly-grown medicinal marijuana and the HerbaBuena Social Club (which sounds amazing!), we sought them out to learn more.
Brant and Alicia are currently in preferred applicant status, awaiting licensing to set roots in a storefront for their collective based in the North Bay. They have a delivery service that covers Marin, Sonoma, and Napa. One might call them a roaming pharmacy of sorts. The co-founders offer members-only educational and tasting (similar to wine tasting) events aptly called The HerbaBuena Social Club. The events are hosted at different locations around town.
We attended one of these events, which took place at a cozy Chinese apothecary in the quaint town of San Anselmo. While waiting for the event to start, we surveyed the “herba buena”, or good herb as it translates to in Spanish, surrounded by Buddha statues and glass cases displaying other varietals of eastern medicines. We were pleased to find that all of the HerbaBuena products “are qualified in their purity, potency, and impact” sourcing organically-grown or certified-biodynamic flower.
“What is biodynamic,” you ask? Good question, and your body will thank you for asking. Biodynamic farming principles are in the simplest terms a step above organic, but there's more to the story. In the U.S., the United States Department of Agriculture issues a seal of organic certification. Because weed is still under a Schedule I classification and federally illegal, cultivators of cannabis cannot certify USDA Organic or label products as organic. Cannabis consumers who are mindful of their health and the Earth's ecology can take heart knowing that there's a better alternative – biodynamic! CleanGreen is a new third-party certification specifically instituted for organically-grown biodynamic marijuana. Demeter is a non-profit with chapters around the world, incorporated in the U.S. back in 1985.
Achieving the Demeter-certification was easy for HerbaBuena founders. They identified that the farm where they grow cannabis is already subscribing to biodynamic methods. The farm, Red Tail Ranch, has what is called a closed-loop ecology. Everything needed to produce healthy, drought-resistant, flowering plants is already on the farm – animals to create the manure, fruit trees for the animals to eat from to create the manure, diverse insect populations, and of course, the biodynamic compost. Healthy compost contributes to soil fertility and a strong immune system to help the plant ward off pests or disease.
Just like in organic certification, chemical pesticides are not used in biodynamic horticulture. In his book, “Cosmos, Earth, and Nutrition,” Richard Thornton Smith explains, “The essential philosophical difference between chemical and organic farming is that the latter formally recognizes the connectedness of things.” The biodynamic farm is treated like a living organism with consideration given to symbiosis similar to how Native Americans grow beans, corn, and squash together. These plants are complimentary to each other and are known as the three sisters. The beans provide nitrogen, squash keeps the soil moist, and the corn feeds off the nitrogen.
It is worth noting that these holistic biodynamic cultivation methods were developed by a man named Rudolf Steiner back in 1920. While Steiner was particular about the soil, he was also interested in more esoteric topics – cosmic forces that issue life and in how plants interact with elemental beings. While the HerbaBuena founders are not suggesting that they are following this school of thought, Alicia did astutely point out during the introductory cannabis education course for the evening that cannabis is a “spirit plant” – it unites mind, body, and spirit.
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Brant supported this concept and then went on to discuss how cannabis provides an environment of homeostasis both inside the body with the endocannabinoid system, and outside in our cultural exchanges. “One of things we're geekin' on is the way that cannabis helps us to achieve greater balance inside, but also externally when it to comes to community. It's not just 'me,' it's 'us."
After diving much deeper into the science of cannabis homeostasis, Rose discussed the health benefits of mega-dosing on THCA with raw cannabis juice, from which one does not achieve a high. HerbaBuena delivers cannabis juice to members in a frozen state to preserve freshness. Other items in their product line are just as leading edge and intriguing as we learned in the subsequent, much-anticipated participatory portion of the event.
Guests with the proper medical recommendation were invited to stay and experience the cannabis tasting. Sampling of organic and biodynamic herb such as Dutch Treat was administered using a PAX vaporizer. The most notable difference in phyto-inhalation of flower grown free of chemicals, and with good intent, is the lack of a cough or burn in the throat. Put simply, it's a smooth toke.
Rose suggested that older smokers who are returning to the medicinal benefits of cannabis with the end of prohibition might notice that something else is a bit different – no feeling of paranoia. She explained that cannabis grown in the shadows under fear of prosecution, likely holds that paranoid energy. Conversely, when grown with good intent and consumed with a goal of well-being, one enjoys a remarkably pleasant, relaxing, and satisfying experience.
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Concentrates and elixirs designed to meet a multitude of interests related to well-being were also on display. Women's ears will perk up when they hear Alicia share her opinion on the more sensual Sexual Healing Pleasure Collection. “Combining Bliss Arousing Elixir with Quiver Sexual lubricant may lead to five minute orgasms.” Ms. Rose recommends combining these products in combination with a selenite wand to better activate kundalini energy.
Brad also showed some personal pride in the HerbaBuena wares with his in-demand kief. “Dispensaries are going crazy for this. It's really a superior quality.” While his is a proprietary process, we managed to extract some industry wisdom. The HerbaBuena kief contains trichomes that are knocked off of cured flower from strains such as Shasta Snowberry or Dream Queen. The color is very light confirming that it is of strong purity and artisan-craft.
If you are in the North Bay, consider ordering from HerbaBuena or attending one of The HerbaBuena Social Club events. Perhaps contact them about hosting one! Be sure to register as a member of the collective in advance. Let's all keep an eye out for the launch party to celebrate their upcoming storefront.