Fast Five Q&A: Judi Nelson, Co-owner of Sol Spirit Farm and Retreats
Cannabis can be a fairly resource-intensive crop to grow. With the advent of legal marijuana markets across the country, more emphasis is being placed on boosting sustainability in the supply chain.
Judi Nelson is on the front lines of this effort as co-founder of Sol Spirit Farm. Sustainable practices and regenerative agriculture are the heartbeat of the brand.
Her sister company, Sol Spirit Retreats, helps consumers learn more about the cause by offering inclusive glamping visits to her Emerald Triangle farm.
Nelson answered five fast questions from GreenState, offering tips on what consumers can do to support sustainability in cannabis, why it matters, and how Sol Spirit is bringing people back to the land.
GreenState: When did your relationship with the plant begin?
Judi Nelson: I first found cannabis while on Grateful Dead Tour in my late teens. I was an athlete in college, and there was always the threat of drug testing due to that, so it wasn’t until after I got out of physical therapy school that I was able to consume cannabis more regularly.
Back then, all I had access to was “schwag” from Mexico, and it really helped me relax and sleep. Once I found my way to California in 1995 and experienced “kind bud” for the first time, I became much more aware of the differences in quality and would buy one $60 eighth of kind bud and make it last all week.
GS: What is your favorite method of consumption and cultivar, and why?
JN: We have a Burmese Mimosa phenotype that is my absolute favorite flower of all time. I love fruity weed, and this is super grapefruity with rose undertones and a unique woody bottom note that grounds the aroma and flavor. It makes me happy just to smell this Burmese Mimosa, and the effect of consuming it is even better, just pure joy.
I mostly smoke joints because of the ritual of preparing the joint, but I love my dried flower vaporizer to really taste the flower.
GS: Sol Spirit is focused on sustainability, both in production and packaging. How can regenerative agriculture save our planet, and what can the cannabis industry do to support this cause?
JN: Research shows that if all agriculture was transitioned to regenerative farming, we would sequester more carbon every year than is emitted from all other human activity, effectively reversing climate change. Regenerative cannabis farming can have a huge impact because, unlike other crops, when cannabis isn’t grown regeneratively, it is often grown indoors, under lights, and in warehouses with huge carbon footprints.
By choosing regeneratively farmed, sustainably packaged cannabis, you are having a double positive effect of the farm sequestering carbon while they grow the flower and avoiding the huge carbon impact of indoor flower.
Interstate commerce would be a major environmental win because areas that don’t have a good climate for growing outdoors could still buy regenerative sungrown. Not to mention the huge climate and financial cost of newly legal states having to develop self-sufficient supply chains.
Did you know you can ship an eighth of sungrown 16 MILLION miles by train before you would equal the carbon emissions of growing it indoors?
GS: Sol Spirit isn’t just a cannabis farm – it’s also a canna-tourism destination. How does tourism help normalize the plant, and what are some events you have on deck?
JN: We want people to see our farm because it is a beautiful, wholesome place that helps you reconnect with nature and the cannabis plant. It’s not a “facility” or an “operation.” It’s a FARM.
Your food and your cannabis (hopefully) come out of the ground, a gift from the Earth, who supports us and sustains us. I think sometimes we forget that, and it is a major cause of depression and angst. Coming to the farm reminds you that you are a part of the vast, interconnected web of life, and I want that for every human being.
Folks can come to stay anytime during the summer, and then I have the Cannamom retreat coming up from September 14th to 17th.
GS: How can consumers support sustainable cannabis?
JN: #1. Buy sungrown flower. If your dispensary doesn’t carry sungrown, ask for it. If you’ve never tried sungrown, try some regenerative, craft sungrown and notice how it makes you FEEL.
#2. Look for Sun and Earth and/or DEM Pure certifications on the package. These beyond organic regenerative farming certifications have the highest environmental standards of any third-party cannabis certifications.
#3. Buy items that are packaged sustainably. Mylar bags and petroleum-based plastic packaging will last eons in the landfill. Compostable packaging is best, followed by packaging made from recycled materials.
#4. Make sure your dispensary knows you care about the climate impact of your cannabis so they stock their shelves accordingly.
Judi Nelson is the owner of Sol Spirit Retreats and co-founder of Sol Spirit Farm. With a background in physical therapy, Nelson began offering wellness retreats at her award-winning Emerald Triangle farm in 2018. Located in picturesque Trinity County, California, Sol Spirit is centered on regenerative agriculture. Visitors can enjoy farm-to-table meals, commune with nature, and partake in exquisite sun-grown cannabis. Nelson, along with partner Walter Wood, have won multiple accolades for their flower, including 1st Place in the 2023 Emerald Cup for their Element strain.
The answers given by Q&A subjects do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GreenState, Hearst, or its subsidiaries. The subject is solely responsible for the views stated in this piece.