John Wright greets us at the entrance of his old junkyard in the heart of Yolo County, 20 miles west of Sacramento. Surrounded by fields and orchards, the one-acre site has changed dramatically from its junkyard days. Instead of parts for hot rods, tidy green rows of Sour Diesel rustle in the breeze. Yolo Botanicals grows both indoor and outdoor. There’s no stereotypical skunk smell, instead the air smells faintly of mango thanks to the wonderfully fragrant and delicious strain Forbidden Fruit.
Wright was introduced to the idea medicinal cannabis when his mother was diagnosed with cancer wanted to try marijuana to help alleviate her symptoms. He began to read up on the plant and says, “The more I read the more I realized we were being lied to.” Together with his partners Robin Miller and Alex de Ralfos, Yolo Botanicals began growing in 2015 with an emphasis on CBD strains.
Wright and de Ralfos grew up in the area and have been working diligently with county officials to craft regulations that help local cannabis growers. “We wanted to do it their way even though they didn’t know what that was,” de Ralfos says. Focusing on education and transparency, Yolo Botanicals started a cannabis alliance and invited different officials to come speak at meetings. Membership jumped from 5 farmers to 60 in a matter of months. Officials have praised Yolo Botanicals for their transparency and use the farm as an example for educating various county departments.
Besides growing clean healing cannabis, building community is a top priority for Yolo Botanicals. Wright says, “We want to keep the money local, hire local, buy local.” They help found a cooperative of ten local growers to share knowledge and resources. Partnering with other local cannabis farms, they are able to hire skilled crewmembers that have consistent year-round work tending to the farms.