Nestled in a thickly forested area in rugged Northern California, sustainable cannabis is being nurtured. Talking Trees Farms is a legacy farm based in Humboldt County that emphasizes cultivating cannabis using exclusively organic methods and inputs. This means no chemical pesticides, no exceptions.
Thanks to this scrutiny over soil health and inputs, the results are astounding, evident in the brand’s flower as well as renowned bubble hash and solventless extract offerings.
The award-winning brand has earned many achievements. At the 2018 High Times Cannabis Cup NorCal, Talking Trees won best CBD vape. At the 2019 High Times Cannabis Cup Central Valley, Talking Trees won second place in Best Hybrid Concentrates with Pink Lemonade live resin and third place for Best Hybrid Flower with Orange Cookies. Talking Trees also holds numerous Emerald Cup wins in 2018, 2019, and 2021.
Talking Trees became a brand in 2013 when California’s Prop. 215 era was thriving. Years of expertise led to the brand eventually forming a name for itself as a farm built on a connection to the surrounding environment. The farm puts a significant emphasis on going the extra mile in sustainable practices from cultivation to packaging. Talking Trees does its part to conserve water for a state experiencing severe drought, although that wasn’t the case in 2023 when winter brought catastrophic flood conditions across California. Utilizing the uptick in rainwater, which wasn’t as severe in Humboldt County as in other areas, is ideal for having a smaller impact on the environment, says Talking Trees founder Craig Nejedly.
“I catch rain off the top of the building I have on the property, and then that funnels into a pond, and that’s over three-quarters of an acre big,” Nejedly says. “It catches rain in the winter, stores water, and then we use that to water the garden in the spring and summer and fall.”
The Talking Trees grow also doesn’t drain water from surrounding natural rivers, streams, and creeks, which would spoil the natural habitat. In Humboldt County, six wild rivers run through the county and provide essential habitats for fish and wildlife.
Taking action to prevent damaging the environment helps improve the reputation of the cannabis industry. The cannabis from Talking Trees is cultivated using organic materials in all farming practices.
“Even after harvest, when it comes to packaging our flower, we package everything in home-compostable, biodegradable packaging,” Nejedly says.
Talking Trees Pheno Hunt
It’s difficult to find a strain that isn’t already old news in Northern California, where many seasoned cannabis veterans have grown for generations. At Talking Trees, the team frequently sorts through many cultivars.
“We’re always on the hunt for new cultivars, so we’re always popping seed, pheno hunting, and just trying to search out new and interesting stuff,” Nejedly says. “Our goal is not to grow what everybody else is growing but to grow strains or females that are unique to Talking Trees. Right now, we have some pretty cool stuff we’re searching out that we have.
“One of our in-house strains that we’ve bred is the Plandyland, which is Candyland and Pink Lemonade. And then we have a Lemon Royale phenotype from Swamp Boys Seeds that’s really special. And I always love all the Zkittlez crosses. We have the regular Zkittlez—kind of the classic Zkittlez—and a cross of Zkittlez with the Pink Lemonade. We call that Peasy Lemonade, and it’s pretty flavorful. And then Rainbow Belts, which is very similar to Zkittlez and is great for live rosin and extract stuff.”
The cultivation team at Talking Trees is working on a few new strains set to be released soon.
“We’re working on some Dark Rainbow crosses,” Talking Trees Cultivation Manager Matt Weston says. “I found an interesting male from Archive Seed Bank. I’ve got that and all of our winter stuff. We’ve got a cross of our Lemon Royale, our Menage, and our Mac N Cheese. I’m looking forward to developing that and seeing where that takes us.”
Tall Trees Grow From Healthy Soil
Good flower depends on good soil, and a great deal of emphasis on soil quality takes place at Talking Trees.
“Our focus is on soil health, and we do our best to manage our soil health,” Weston says. “We reuse our soil. We amend it every year, and we test it every year. We try to do our best to make sure that the place that provides the home for our plants is healthy… We put a lot of effort into the earth and our soil, our cultivation medium. Just to make sure that we’re getting a biologically driven healthy plant that is as therapeutic and potent as possible.”
Soil health is a top priority, and Talking Trees’s current recipe has been carefully blended and developed over time.
“We started with your average potting soil to some degree, and then, depending on where we’re growing, like on the hill, in the greenhouses, we’ll blend that with a native soil and then just continually start feeding that soil or that potting soil that we bought,” Nejedly says. “And then basically never buy soil again, like getting soils like a one-time purchase and then from that point on or just feeding the soil, nourishing the soil [with] compost teas, adding biology, and end up building the soil.”
Compostable & Recyclable Packaging
When Talking Trees committed to compostable and recyclable packaging, it meant making some sacrifices such as abandoning the gold foil print the brand used to use. The first step towards compostable and recyclable packaging is to eliminate plastics.
“I try to avoid plastic as much as possible—that’s like the number one [thing] to avoid,” Nejedly says.
With the pre-roll packaging, Nejedly found a biodegradable solution at his organic grocery store and replicated the plant-based material. It took a lot of experimentation and trial and error to develop the packaging in a way that would work and also look presentable.
“And so now our pre-rolls—they come in a box, which is compostable or recyclable paper,” Nejedly says. “But we had to do away with our gold foil printing because that would take away the recyclability or the compostability of it. So we had to drop a little bit of the bling on our printing to make it more sustainable. But now we have 100% and sustainable pre-rolls.”
New Products in the Works
Talking Trees’s greenhouse-grown flower is sold as 0.6 gram pre-rolls, 1 gram pre-rolls, or in eighths. Loud Trees, the brand’s indoor-grown line, has similar stats.
Rainbow Drops, Orange Cookies, Zmasherz, Slurrimac, and Squeezits are a few strains you can find in the Talking Trees greenhouse-grown line. Talking Trees ice water-extracted bubble hash is made from cannabis grown in-house. That means the team has control over how that flower is stored. The localized production process gets down to how the ice is made using their own water.
Several more products are also in the works.
“We’re in the R&D about to launch and enter The Emerald Cup with a rosin hash-infused pre-roll,” Nejedly says.
Nejedly and Weston want to remind readers that the industry is built on the shoulders of small growers, including those found in the thick of the mountains in Northern California.
“Support the small farms,” Weston says. “Keeping the variety of life is why this is possible. And you know, supporting small farms does that. Only the small farms are going to do their best to bring different things every year and not just look for what feels the best.”
This article was originally published in the April 2023 issue of High Times Magazine.