If you have ever picked up Coastal Sun products, you may have noticed our information-packed labels. Beyond the customary THC and terpene percentages, we delve into genetics, flavors, fragrances, and the potential effects you might experience. Yet, among these crucial details, we believe one stands out: where the cultivar is grown.
While a significant portion of our greenhouse and sun-grown cultivars are grown at our Santa Cruz County Farm, we're privileged to collaborate with a network of partner farms across Northern California. As a grassroots company, we could’ve focused our efforts on building a large grow facility. However, we realized that a network of owner-owned and operated farms furthers our mission while offering customers a selection of cultivars that honor the diverse terroir California has to offer.
These partnerships ensure our products are fresh and available year-round, fulfilling cannabis needs statewide.
"In the Fields" is our latest blog series highlighting our diverse partners and their integral role in our overarching mission. This month, we spoke to Sebastian Gotla, owner and operator of Foothill River, an organic farm nestled in the serene Sierra Nevada Foothills of Nevada County, CA.
1. How long have you been growing/involved with cannabis?
I have been involved with cannabis since my early teenage years, as it was a significant part of my upbringing. My introduction to growing cannabis occurred through various channels - my mom grew it in our backyard, friends' parents cultivated it to supplement their income, and it was prevalent within my aspects of my community growing up in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
As I entered my early 20s, my involvement with cannabis took a more intentional turn. I began working at a large medical cannabis farm located in the heart of the Emerald Triangle during the early Prop 215 days. This experience marked my initiation into larger-scale cultivation, specifically focusing on sun-grown organic practices. Working in this environment gave me valuable insights into the intricacies of cannabis cultivation, emphasizing sustainable and organic methods.
Throughout my journey, I have witnessed the evolving landscape of cannabis, from its informal presence in my early years to my professional involvement today. My experiences have instilled a deep appreciation for the plant and a commitment to contributing positively to the cannabis industry through ethical and sustainable cultivation practices.
2. Why did you choose organic farming practices vs conventional? What are you trying to accomplish with this style of cultivation?
I choose organic cultivation practices to accomplish my goal of cultivating the most therapeutic cannabis strains as naturally as possible, with diligent respect for our community and the environment. Organic farming methods not only align with my commitment to producing the highest quality cannabis but also contribute to environmental sustainability.
By avoiding synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, organic cultivation promotes soil health, biodiversity, and protects the ecosystem. This approach ensures that the cannabis I grow is not only therapeutic for consumers but also reflects a conscientious choice to prioritize the well-being of our community and the planet. Additionally, I believe organic cannabis offers health benefits by minimizing exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, providing a cleaner and more natural product for consumers.
3. How and why did you end up working with Coastal Sun?
I became a partner with Coastal Sun through a unique journey that began as a customer visiting their nursery in 2019. At the time, Coastal offered specific seeds that were not available elsewhere. During this visit, I was given a farm and facility tour and became further impressed by Coastal Sun's brand, vision, and business model. The commitment to delivering high-quality cannabis products to a wide audience at an affordable price resonated with me, and I knew I wanted to be a part of this vision.
The following season, my connection with Coastal Sun deepened when colleagues in the local industry introduced me to their purchasing department. This connection marked the beginning of our partnership, and since then, our partnership has expanded yearly.
I have been proud to collaborate with Coastal Sun in realizing our shared vision of providing exceptional cannabis products to the California community.
4. What's your favorite cultivar? Are there any exciting genetics in the pipeline?
It's always challenging to pick a favorite. Still, I've been particularly enthusiastic about the CBD Gush Mints 1:1. As a medical advocate with a focus on medically minded cultivars, I appreciate strains that incorporate alternative cannabinoids and are not just focused on the highest THC percentage.
The CBD Gush Mints 1:1 aligns with my passion for providing diverse and balanced consumer options. I'm thrilled that this variety is now part of Coastal Sun's menu. I'm eager to continue growing genetics provided by Coastal Sun. Their collaboration with some of the industry's top breeders ensures a diverse and high-quality genetic pool.
Additionally, I'm actively involved in developing our own breeding projects, focusing on CBD:THC cultivars. This allows us to contribute to the evolution of therapeutic strains and cater to the market's specific needs. The future holds exciting possibilities in cannabis genetics, and I'm grateful to be part of this dynamic and innovative journey with Coastal Sun.
5. What is something you want the people enjoying your cannabis to know about Foothill River?
We are a small family farm that brings legacy values into the new commercial marketplace. These values are deeply ingrained in our cultivation practices and underscore our commitment to quality and sustainability. Our farm is run by a small, dedicated team that values all aspects and diversity of life on the farm. From the towering sunflowers to the gigantic pumpkins, we embrace and celebrate the abundance of life thriving around us.
We take pride in creating a product that uplifts people's quality of life. Every step of our cultivation process is undertaken with care and consideration, ensuring that the cannabis we produce reflects the essence of our little slice of paradise. It's an honor to share our carefully crafted product with the good people of California, and we hope that those who enjoy our cannabis can feel the passion, dedication, and positive energy that goes into every plant we cultivate.
6. Do you have a list of things you want to achieve with your cannabis farm? Long-term vision.
One of the key goals is to implement more regenerative practices by closing more loops on the farm. This involves creating on-site compost and fertilizers, contributing to a more sustainable and self-sufficient cultivation system. I aspire to increase the diversity of crops on the farm, incorporating even more vegetables, fruit trees, and flowers. This not only enhances the overall biodiversity of the farm but also promotes a healthier and more resilient ecosystem.
7. Do you do anything to give back to your local community that you would like us to highlight? How does Foothill River impact the local economy?
Yes, I’ve been a medical cannabis and policy advocate for nearly a decade. I have served as a past board member of the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance (NCCA) and currently hold the position of Co-Chair of the NCCA's Compassion Program. Through this program, we actively contribute to providing free medical cannabis products to local patients in need, collaborating with our local dispensary, Elevation 2477, and other members of the local supply chain.
Our involvement in the NCCA and the Compassion Program underscores our dedication to supporting and enhancing the well-being of our community members. By offering free medical cannabis products to those facing health challenges, we aim to make a positive impact on the lives of individuals who can benefit from the therapeutic properties of cannabis.
Additionally, our farm's impact on the local economy extends beyond the Compassion Program. As a small family farm, we contribute to the community's economic vitality by providing employment opportunities and participating in the local supply chain. Our operations involve collaboration with local businesses, creating a support network that strengthens the region's economic fabric.
Through these initiatives, we strive not only to cultivate high-quality cannabis but also to actively engage in initiatives that foster community well-being and economic growth.
8. How have organic and regenerative agriculture methods made production more profitable and/or efficient?
Organic and regenerative agriculture methods boost production efficiency and profitability by focusing on soil health and biodiversity. These practices, involving building soil fertility and fostering microbial and fungal life, minimize the reliance on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. One key aspect is the natural building of soil through processes like compost teas and cover cropping, eliminating the need to purchase new soil for each crop cycle. This approach reduces costs associated with external inputs and emphasizes sustainable farming practices, contributing to healthier and more resilient ecosystems over time.
9. Are there any cultivation practices that are unique to your farm?
While many of our practices align with common regenerative and sustainable approaches, one unique aspect is our emphasis on sourcing products locally. We strive to support our community by obtaining supplies from nearby businesses whenever possible. In particular, we are fortunate to have access to what we consider the best compost available, known for its rich fungal and microbial life. This high-quality compost is sourced from Catalyst BioAmendments or Vital Garden Supply, local businesses located just minutes away from the farm. We utilize this exceptional compost in our compost teas, contributing to our cultivation practices' overall health and biodiversity.
10. Do you and your team have any quirky or fun traditions on the farm? Any farm pets? Any must-have stories?
Absolutely, we have a cherished tradition on the farm that spans over a decade – the practice of giving thanks to each and every planting – a little positive intention with each planting. Whether it's one plant or a thousand, our team takes a moment to acknowledge the significance of the plant, expressing gratitude for the opportunity to cultivate this sacred plant. During these moments, we ask the plant to provide abundance for the farm and contribute to individuals' well-being worldwide by bringing peace and health. This tradition fosters a sense of mindfulness and connection with the plants and adds a touch of reverence to our farming practices. Plus, before each harvest, we have a similar moment of gratitude – for every harvest is a blessing.
And yes, we do have a beloved farm pet, Makena! She's our farm mascot, and her farming tenure spans over an impressive 12 years. Makena brings a daily dose of compassion and light to the farm, making her the most adored being by all of us. Not only does she exude love, but she's also a great farm protector.
Farm stories, yea, we are stoked on placing in some of our industry's most regarded contests: The Emerald Cup and The CA State Fair. It's a proud moment for us because we entered strains that we hold dear to our hearts. The MediHaze and CBD Gushmints are not just unique but packed with medicinal properties that we're incredibly passionate about. Winning these contests is not just a nod to our expertise but also a testament to the therapeutic potential of our cultivars. Excited to keep pushing the boundaries and cultivating strains that positively impact the diverse world of cannabis.
11. Do you have any advice or first steps for any cannabis farmers out there thinking about switching to organic?
Certainly! My advice for any cannabis farmers considering switching to organic cultivation is to first and foremost believe in organic production wholeheartedly, as it's a commitment not for the faint of heart. Once you've made that internal commitment to yourself and the principles of organic farming, the rest tends to fall into place with a natural flow. Embrace the philosophy, learn from established organic producers and practices, and let your dedication guide you through the transition. It's a journey that involves mindful cultivation, sustainable practices, and a genuine passion for producing cannabis in harmony with nature.
We are deeply grateful for the overwhelming demand for our flowers in California. Our Partner Farm Program isn't just about expanding the organic cannabis farming community; it's also a strategic move that allows us to concentrate on brand growth and consumer education. These farms play a pivotal role in our journey, contributing to our vision of cultivating healthy cannabis.
Thank you to Sebastian of Foothill River for doing this interview with us. Stay tuned and subscribe to our newsletter for more blogs from Coastal Sun.