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Humboldt Family Farms Curates Cannabis Products from Local Farmers: The Starting Line

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Scott Vasterling’s wife and sister-in-law have operated the Beachcomber Café, a farm-to-table restaurant in Trinidad, Calif., for two decades.

As the family looked to source fruits and vegetables from local farmers for the café, Vasterling thought, why not curate cannabis products from some of those same farms to create a Humboldt County-based cannabis brand for direct-to-home delivery?

The idea for Humboldt Family Farms was born.

The company, which launched its e-commerce platform in November, sells a selection of sungrown cannabis products produced by Humboldt County farmers under the Humboldt Family Farms brand, which includes flower, prerolls and vape cartridges.

Humboldt Family Farms also holds a cannabis cultivation license for less than 5,000 square feet of canopy space, although its main business model is to provide an outlet for other farms’ wares.

Vasterling estimates that approximately 80% of the cannabis products produced in Humboldt County last year were unbranded, despite the region having a world-renowned brand reputation for high-quality cannabis.

“Humboldt obviously has a legacy of small farmers in our area,” he says. “We wanted to curate products from those farmers. If they don’t have a branded product that we could put onto the market, then we can do it into our Humboldt Family Farms house brand, but then we’re [also] doing some curating of other branded products … onto our platform, as well.”

The company’s direct-to-consumer e-commerce platform currently delivers to roughly 80% of California’s population, and customers can schedule same-day or next-day delivery on all orders.

“We do have a retail strategy going into 2023, looking at some select retail partners, but right now, what we decided to do is tell our story directly to consumers,” Vasterling says. “The supply chain in California has been challenging and so, I think, … to take it directly from farms and directly from Humboldt, directly delivered discretely to consumers, then we can tell the story directly to them. I think [that] was really attractive to us, so that’s how we’ve launched.”

RELATED: California’s Small Cannabis Farmers Launch Direct-to-Consumer Sales Platform Inspired by Industry Struggles

While the brand initially launched with the cannabis farmers that Vasterling already has business relationships with through the family’s Beachcomber Café, he plans to bring on additional growers as Humboldt Family Farms expands.

Photos courtesy of Humboldt Family Farms

“We’re looking to provide the highest quality with a nice diversity of strain selection and products,” he says. “But we don’t want to overpromise to the farmers. … We’re building the demand first before we make commitments to a whole variety of farmers and then have those obligations. We’re trying to really prove this algorithm for moving products through the supply chain to consumers before we really commit to a variety of other farms and brands.”

The Humboldt Family Farms team has created Spotify playlists that pair with each of the brand’s products.

“Clearly, it’s pretty reggae-heavy at this point, but it goes hand-in-hand with cannabis,” Vasterling says. “We selected a lot of those playlists and artists because they’re ones that we like. The sativa blend has a little bit more of an upbeat [feel] and the indicas have more of a mellow tone to them. We tried to pair them and we’re continuing to do that with the additional products that we launch. … Music and cannabis for generations have gone hand-in-hand, so I think to actually provide some flavor to the cannabis with music was just a natural blend, a natural partnership.”

The team also hands out guitar picks with QR codes on them instead of business cards.

“We’re getting a lot of high passthrough on those guitar picks,” Vasterling says. “People throw them in their pockets and tend not to throw them away. They share them or use them.”

Customer feedback on Humboldt Family Farms has been positive so far, he says, and the company has largely relied on word-of-mouth to market its business since launching just before Thanksgiving.

“Probably our biggest challenge is getting the word out,” Vasterling says. “I think Humboldt has a world-renowned brand reputation for high-quality cannabis, and I think bringing it through the supply chain directly to consumers … [and] letting people know that they can go to Humboldt Family Farms, and they can have some of the highest quality curated products delivered discretely, directly to their door, [is important].”

Looking ahead, Humboldt Family Farms plans to launch a Private Reserve VIP List, which Vasterling compares to a wine club. Those on the list will receive exclusive access to small-batch flower that growers have limited quantities of.

“Typically, in cultivation, there are certain strains that farmers will run every year that they have smaller quantities [of],” Vasterling says. “I’ll give you an example on our farm, where we have our standard strains that we typically run in certain areas on our farm every year, but we always add some test strains to see how they work. And some of those test strains are phenomenal, but typically, they’re on a smaller scale because you don’t invest two whole greenhouses into a strain you’ve never grown before and you don’t know how it’s going to react in that particular environment and that particular elevation, as an example. So, we have worked with the farmers to curate some of those fun strains that turned out really amazing on the farms, but that there’s a very limited quantity.”

Humboldt Family Farms’ product offerings include flower, such as this Blue Dream, as well as vape cartridges and prerolls.

Customers who sign up for the Private Reserve VIP list are not obligated to purchase these products but are rather given the opportunity to choose whether to order the offerings as they become available.

“We’re really excited about that concept of getting people involved and helping them understand how things work on the cultivation side at the farms, and then [they can] take advantage of these amazing, unique strains that may or may not be something that’s available again,” Vasterling says.

While Humboldt Family Farms’ current focus is the California market, growing its supply chain and educating consumers on its products, Vasterling says in the longer-term, he would like to expand to other states, once interstate commerce becomes a reality.

The team also plans to add to its own product line with more cannabis varieties and a wider selection of prerolls, which Vasterling says has been a popular product category.

“We’re doing three half-gram prerolls in each package currently,” he says. “The demand has been pretty positive for those, so we’ll likely have a larger bulk package of prerolls for those folks who have an affinity for it.”

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