Whether or not you celebrate Halloween, you’ll be familiar with the iconic jack-o-lantern carved out of a pumpkin.
Which is why this story is appropriate for today.
It isn’t all fun and games in the pumpkin-growing industry, as you’ll see from Farmer John’s story.
In “World Pumpkin Capital” Half Moon, California, a community is divided between those who support John Muller’s new venture – to grow marijuana in his greenhouses, thereby saving his pumpkin farm – and those who think that his actions will lead the community down a dangerous path.
You can read the full story on The Washington Post. In short, here’s what’s happening:
On Nov. 6, residents of this small, coastal city will vote on whether Muller, 72, can use a section of his 21-acre farm to grow thousands of young marijuana plants.
Muller and his wife, Eda (below), said they need this revenue to save their property, Daylight Farms. If voters don’t approve Measure GG, the Mullers could be forced to sell everything before next year’s harvest.
“If that doesn’t pass, there won’t be a pumpkin farm,” Eda Muller told critics at a recent city council meeting, muttering under her breath, “Put that in your pipe and smoke it.”
You can see the decrease in land and pumpkin production since 2008 here:
Last year, two billion pumpkins were harvested and turned into Halloween decorations across the States. But these and other iconic American holiday symbols exist in an often overlooked economy with hidden pressures and difficulties.
For many farmers in California, the legalisation of marijuana has provided the prospect of raising a lucrative crop that will help them to maintain and keep their land.
Local governments, particularly in remote rural areas, are deciding whether cannabis should be treated like any other crop or banned, out of concern that it could lead to crime and other unwanted social change. Calaveras County, for instance, allowed the cultivation of cannabis, collecting millions of dollars of taxes, only to backtrack. Now growers are suing.
In Half Moon, John’s efforts have divided the community in two. On the one hand, John’s pumpkin farm is an iconic feature of the “World Pumpkin Capital”, drawing wealthy visitors from San Francisco and Silicon Valley each autumn.
On the other hand, the community is worried that the growth of marijuana will encourage drug use and set the town on a path towards luring outside investors with nefarious motives, and drawing federal scrutiny upon farm labourers, many of whom are undocumented Mexican workers.
A lifelong Republican, John Muller voted against the statewide measure in 2016 that legalized the recreational use of marijuana by adults. He was an outlier in Half Moon Bay, where 69 percent of voters backed it.
Shortly after that vote, Muller was approached by Eric Hollister, a chef and acquaintance from the local farmers market. Hollister wanted to refurbish the Mullers’ dilapidated greenhouses, grow cannabis “starts” — young, non-flowered plants — and market the products to individual consumers and other commercial growers.
Strapped for cash, and with mounting medical bills for Eda’s mother’s health care, the Mullers saw a way to keep their farm and cover their expenses.
The Mullers will learn their fate on Tuesday next week.
In the meantime, they’re participating in the annual Halloween parade, unsure if it will be their last.
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