Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a cannabis farmer? Meet Elizabeth Luca-Mahmood. The woman behind Green Source Gardens, Eliza runs an eco-dynamic hügelkulture regenerative family cannabis farm in southern Oregon. Elizabeth and her team use methods rooted in experience and research by integrating growing styles dictated by bio-dynamics, permaculture, indigenous agriculture, and love. Eliza is dedicated to promoting agricultural practices that not only provide results but also heal and build soil. A profound and deep respect for nature, Eliza is passionate about building healthy biological soil communities so that we can move towards a more promising future for all.
What inspired you to enter the cannabis industry?
It happened pretty organically actually. My husband and I moved to Oregon from the Southwest with the intention to spread the knowledge of land stewardship that we had been developing growing food. We chose the area here in Oregon because of the unique qualities it has in terms of climate and water availability. We were able to work out a deal with a friend who lived in the area, he let us live on his land in a work exchange for us growing food and helping with his farms chores. We grew a beautiful veggie garden there and we were also allowed to grow some legal cannabis through the state medical program. We had never had the luxury of getting to grow cannabis in the open, with space and the ability to let it get as big as possible. I will never forget those plants...they began the journey.
Tell us more about your launching your business
We began very small and had to grow quickly to keep up with the market so we brought in family to help with the expansions. Keeping it in the family has kept the core of the business team rock solid. We have always had a very clear focus on what our intentions and goals are. We grow and tend our land rooted in a strong ethical foundation of earth care. Our whole business model revolves around the farm. We live a very farm-based life, caring for animals, tending the land and growing plants. We have been able to establish a niche in the market with our unique growing style and the plant health and vitality we can achieve with our close loop systems. People pay attention to things that stick out and break the mold. They start to really pay attention when it also is something beautiful and inspiring. Our gardens are sanctuaries that erupt with diversity and health.
How has cannabis influenced your life?
It is my life. I live, breath, dream, sweat, eat and worship cannabis. Everything in my life is a result of cannabis at this point.
What have been your biggest hurdles operating in the cannabis industry so far?
We started with very little. We had no money, no home, no land. We were living under a tarp at one point! So getting funding and access to land seemed like a far-fetched dream.
How have you been able to overcome these challenges?
We had to work very hard. Make do with what we had and did a lot of work in service of the community. That work was seen by goodhearted people. There have been a few people who made a lot possible for us. Also, our family believed in us as well. My parents sold their home in the Midwest, moved out to Oregon and spent their last dollar on a down payment on a home here. We all lived together and made ends meet. It was pretty rough at times. But, you just keep going! Keep dreaming big. Amazing things happen when your hearts in the right place and driven by passion.
Name the top 3 skills every cannabis entrepreneur needs
Any tips for maintaining a work/life balance?
My work is my life. I do feel swallowed up by it sometimes, and I think back on simpler days and the beautiful freedom that life held. But when you allow yourself to be swallowed, you get digested, you transform. I feel I am a different creature now, stronger, wiser and in control. I also accept that life changes, and I think of things in stages. At this stage, I have to live this fully. I have to be fully immersed. But, I also want to be, because there is still so much to learn.
What is the best advice you received recently?
What are your favorite resources/tools for your business and why?
Our business is extremely dependent on us being on the farm, caring for all the animals and tending the gardens. That keeps me rather isolated from the world. Social media has been paramount in keeping my finger on the pulse of the industry as well as enabling us to spread information and ideas with the community. Also, here are a multitude of books that I reference for better understanding and evolving my farm.
Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden - Gilbert Wilson
Culture and Horticulture: A Philosophy of Gardening - Wolf Storl
Wise Traditions - Sally Fallon
The Rebel Farmer - Sepp Holzer
An Outline Of Occult Science - Rudolph Steiner
Everything I Want to do is Illegal - Joel Salatin
The No Work Garden Handbook - Ruth Stout
Holistic Farm Management - Alan Savory
Goat Walking - Jim Corbett
Permaculture: A Designers' Manual - Bill Mollison
If you could offer an aspiring cannabis entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be?
I say if you have a passion for what you are doing and you believe in it, you will be successful, because you will be doing what you love. Coming into this industry with avarice will lead you down a cutthroat path that is likely to end poorly.