From the Hood to the Woods
Tell us about yourself: Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Berkeley, CA, raised in West Oakland and Mendocino/Sonoma Counties. My Great Grandfather had agricultural land in Manteca, CA. As a kid I would call it “The Country”. We would pick plums, cherries, and go fishing, I loved it! As a kid I noticed the difference in energy spending time in “The Country,” then going back to Oakland where it was very loud and chaotic. In the 2nd grade we left Oakland for a better life up north, and we ended up in Ukiah, CA. Life was significantly different in Ukiah, we lived in a woman’s shelter for a brief period until we found our first apartment in Mendocino County.
Any pivotal milestones or accomplishments?
Unfortunately, I was exposed to racism at a very young age as we were one of the few Black families in the region. At the age of 12 I bought my first dirt bike with my own money earned by washing dishes at a local restaurant. I played basketball and football at Mendocino Junior College and in 2000 I joined the US Army. After the Army I had 2 beautiful children. I also went to school for sound engineering, music is a lifelong passion of mine. In 2013, I opened my first business, The Royal Barber Shop. We were the only barber shop in the region that serviced clients with ethnic hair. We held barber battles in a small rural town which was unheard of at the time. The barber shop helped me learn about running a successful business.
How did your relationship with Cannabis start?
I grew up around cannabis in both Oakland and in Mendocino County. In 2009, I began taking it seriously as a business. I started out trimming to make extra money then immediately started growing small amounts for personal use. I dove deep into everything cannabis and started learning about the more technical aspects of plant science. It’s been an adventure ever since.
What was your “Ah-ha” moment with Cannabis or with starting your own projects?
In 2018, I officially launched Farmer Don as a brand. I also launched Farmer Don Services Company which differs from the brand. During that season my services company was able to work with a team to build out a 4 acre grow in Lake County. I learned a lot about managing and building out industrial grow operations during that time. During the height of Covid in 2020 I built out another large grow operation and managed 14 industrial greenhouses from start to finish in Covelo. In 2021, I knew I had something with my brand, so I began working to bring it to life. Currently I am partnered with ET Farms as Head Cultivator. I will fully launch Farmer Don brand into the market in 2022.
What makes Farmer Don different than other grows in California?
I can utilize my unique life experiences, family history in farming and military discipline to connect with the plant.
Who or what motivates you?
My kids and family. I am my son’s football coach and my daughter’s biggest cheerleader.