Grassland by H Lee

Issue 33

A few hours north of San Francisco, along the coast, lies a rugged landscape of towering Redwoods and Douglas Firs. Cut with rivers and fog, it is iconic American terrain, which draws countless RV-towing tourists who wind up and down logging roads all summer long.

But beneath this layer of green and golden splendor, there exists an unseen world that no maps can find, only a discriminating eye for unmarked dirt roads. To the initiated, there are signs, as clear as the highway billboards offering hydroponic paraphernalia, medical cannabis consultations, trimming solutions and turkey bags in bulk. These services are welcome flags to cannabis country, where droves of marijuana growers, both indoor and outdoor, hide in the hills and make their living.

The first time I entered this world, I was totally ignorant to the world of pot farming, and riddled with judgment. It took some time for my outsider eyes to adjust to see what was all around me — behind locked gates and camouflaged cabins, past generators and barking dogs, protective firearms and diesel trucks — but also to gain the trust of the community. It is an eclectic group, bound together by a deep knowledge of growing techniques, along with a strong distrust for outsiders; suspicion is a necessary survival trait. These farmers are lured by the single magical and medicinal plant; a plant whose cultivation or possession holds the promise of profit, coupled with possible jail time. As state and local laws, along with public acceptance, are now changing, this once-furtive farming community is coming out of its greenhouses, building bigger ones and growing giant plants in full sun, less fearful of the hum of helicopters, more exposed and confident than ever before.

I have come to understand and applaud this unique universe, so closed and cautious, protected and protective, and courageously strong in its beliefs. This series respectfully shares and bares witness to cannabis cultivation, illustrating a full season of plant production, from farm to table.

H. Lee is a San Francisco, CA based artist.
To view more work, please visit this website.

  Private Property 

Private Property 

  Barrel 

Barrel 

  Farmer 

Farmer 

  Farm 

Farm 

  Greenhouse 

Greenhouse 

  Starts 

Starts 

  Weighing Out 

Weighing Out 

  Worker 

Worker 

  Harvest 

Harvest 

  Shake 

Shake 

  Starts II 

Starts II 

  Weighing Out II 

Weighing Out II 

  Worker II 

Worker II 

  Pounds 

Pounds 

  Back Room 

Back Room 

  Greenhouse II

Greenhouse II

  Drying Room 

Drying Room 

  Drying Shed 

Drying Shed 

  Hanging 

Hanging 

  Resin 

Resin 

  Equipment 

Equipment 

  Plants 

Plants 

  Trimming 

Trimming 

  Untrimmed 

Untrimmed 

  Farmer II 

Farmer II 

  Trim Scene 

Trim Scene