Get to Know the Farms: Sweet Sisters Family Farm
Redwoods tower above with their needles swaying in the gentle Mendocino County breeze, leaving an open meadow full of sweet cannabis plants drenched in the warm California sun. Here lies Sweet Sisters Family Farm, a craft cannabis farm that planted its roots on this property in 1986. Ten years later, with the passage of Prop 215, Sara and David O'Donnell, owners and operators of Sweet Sisters, began cultivating their cannabis to share with the world. Both made their way to this magnificent county back in the '70s, but while Sara is a California native, David made his trek from Minnesota, and now they can't imagine being anywhere else. "There is a well-known belief that if Mendocino is in your heart - if it bites you, so to speak - this will always be home. You can try to leave, but you will always be back. I have never considered, for even one day, living anywhere other than Mendo," Sara shares.
In 2017, Sweet Sisters was permitted to grow cannabis under Prop 64, and since their inception in 1996, they've dedicated their operation to providing consumers access to the best cannabis on the market. "We have always known first hand the power of the plant. The medicinal properties of the plant are very real." Being a three-time cancer survivor herself, Sara knows from experience the healing benefits of cannabis and the importance of using only clean inputs. This is why they utilize organic cultivation practices to produce their high-grade bud, the other motivator being their determination to maintain a loving relationship with the earth. "We believe that the loving intention you bring to the garden every day is ultimately expressed in the flower."
Flynn - Photo by: Chris Butler
With sustainability as one of their primary focuses, the Sweet Sisters farm is entirely run on solar, and all of their plants are grown full-sun either directly in the dirt or in raised garden beds. Drip irrigation helps them manage their water usage responsibly, and compost tea made on the farm from forest duff helps their plants perform to their fullest potential. This year, they're converting their farm into an entirely in-ground system, removing the raised beds block by block to fully connect their plants with the earth and obtain a deep synergy with their land.
When discussing their affinity for cannabis cultivation, Sara explains it's each plant’s individual expression that ties them to the craft. "Is she a fast grower? Is she tall? Is she pest resistant?” Sara asks. “Is she a late bloomer or an early girl? And finally, how does she smoke?" It's these observations that they admire most about the cultivation processes. It's seeing each of their "girls" display a unique personality that makes their job all that more fun. And while they care for each of their plants equally, there are a couple of favorites they always try to keep in the lineup. "Two cultivars we are very partial to are Mendo Crumble, a cross of Mendo Purps and GSC Forum cut, and Moon Drops, a Purple Urkle and Do Si Do cross."
Before starting their cannabis farm, David worked as a carpenter while Sara was a candle maker and executive director of a local non-profit for twenty-two years. Because of their devotion to selfless service, both owners are committed to supporting their community through financial donations and volunteering their time with local organizations. Their selfless service extends into the cannabis industry as well, and they have donated trim for manufacturing RSO under the Compassionate Use Act. These donations with Dear Cannabis and Emerald Bay Extracts are distributed to dispensaries participating in this program, giving California patients access to this healing plant regardless of their financial situation.
As part of the original founding members of the Hive Mendocino Cooperative, Sara and David are passionate about teamwork and supporting others. They know that each farm brings its own unique cultivation knowledge, and together, they can help improve the craft cannabis space by combining new and old techniques. "Our intent has always been to create a network of farms where collaboration and transparency are achieved in all aspects of the individual and collective farming and business practices," Sara explains. "We hold each other up, we learn from each other, and we have fun together." When discussing how this past year's COVID-19 restrictions have affected the small, tight-knit group of farmers, she shares, “It's been tough not being able to be in the same space together for so long. Our Hive farmers are now fully vaccinated, and we are all looking forward to gathering together as a group."
Side-by-side, Sara and David work in harmony with the land around them on their multi-generational farm. It's this connection to the earth that sparks magic in their world and influences them to leave this planet a better place than it was when they got here. They feel very fortunate to have called this piece of paradise in the Mendocino mountains their home for nearly forty years, and because of that, they care deeply about preserving the culture and natural landscape of this area. They're proud to have helped shape this county's cannabis community into what it is today, and they hope to continue inspiring social responsibility in others by giving back to their neighbors, supporting others in the industry, and practicing sustainable farming methods to produce their out-of-this-world craft cannabis.
The Sweet Sisters logo embraces the nature of their farm and business, and can be interpreted in three ways: (1) an abstract "SS" for "Sweet Sisters"; (2) a cannabis calyx; or (3) the convergence of two water channels meant to illustrate the two waterways that run through their property. It's these waterways that add a sense of magic to their farm as if their winding paths are weaving it into the fabric of the land.