The California Dream

in Culture

Driving north along California’s Highway 12 to visit a cannabis farm, the scenery gives way to rows of established old vine wine grapes cast against a backdrop of low undulating golden hills. When I pull off the highway and arrive near my destination, Esensia Gardens, a Cooper’s hawk flies into a patch of oak woodlands moments before Marley Lovell cruises up on a Subaru UTV. His dad is also a bird watcher, he says with a wide welcoming smile, as he directs me to follow him along a short dirt road past a small herd of spotted brown and white cows huddled together in the shade. Esensia naturally blends in with many of the working farms in the heart of the Sonoma Valley, but it’s growing a unique crop for the area. And behind the rows of juvenile cannabis plants stretching their branches into the full sun lies a story of friendship, perseverance, and cutting-edge scientific agricultural techniques. 

“One thing led to another with farming, and I think with cannabis specifically, it’s humbling in the sense that there’s always something new to learn,” Lovell says as we sit down with his business partner and high school friend Ben Blake. “That has really fueled us. It’s been hard, obviously, for a lot of people, particularly in the last couple years. But this site has a renewed sense [of purpose].”

High Times Magazine, October 2023.

Located in Glen Ellen, California, the plant canopy sits at 1 acre, roughly the size of a football field. It’s Esensia’s third grow and most significant iteration yet. With 600 plants, the farm is small in comparison to the size of mega cannabis growers located further south in Santa Barbara County. Still, the core two-person team behind Esensia shows its might by winning …

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Author: Ellen Holland / High Times

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