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The Emerald Cup
Tim Blake started using cannabis in 1971. He grew his first outdoor cannabis crop in 1975. He’s been a part of the evolution of our industry and culture since then, witnessing every aspect of the incredible journey it’s taken us on. He started doing transcendental meditation that same year. Cannabis and meditation have been an integral part of his daily life ever since.
Tim was part of starting and ran several production companies in the early 1990’s; including a ‘New Age’ distribution and production company, a Rap music label (which featured Bootsy Collins on one CD) and a video and music production studio. He has had properties in Mendocino County since the late seventies, finally moving up for good in 1992. Tim is blessed to have three amazing daughters and six beautiful grandchildren.
In 1998, he created Area 101, a spiritual sanctuary and event center for all faiths, devoted to personal growth and spiritual enlightenment. Over the years, he’s produced a wide range of events, including The Emerald Cup. Along with creating the Cup, Tim sponsored and helped produce the first gathering of law enforcement and growers, to openly discuss how they would work together. These debates between the sheriff candidates helped get Tom Allman elected as sheriff of Mendocino County. Hundreds of people came forward to participate in these historical debates, which lead the District Attorneys coming to Area 101 for debates before the cannabis growers of Mendocino County also.
This helped lead to the creation of the 9.31 program, the first of it’s kind in our country; where cannabis growers could get legal permits to grow organic cannabis from the county. Tim and a partner then created the Mendocino Farmers Collective. MFC is the first collective to bring together outdoor, organic growers in Mendocino, creating a way to get products to dispensaries around California, which at that time predominately featured indoor grown cannabis. During this time, The Emerald Cup was growing into the event it is today. While the Mendocino Farmers Collective is no longer in operation, Tim has opened Healing Harvest Farms, an organic, outdoor collective dispensary at Area 101.
Tim’s mission has always been focused on bringing cannabis out of the closet and back to its rightful place as the most important healing medicine on the planet. At the same time, making it something that everyone should have safe and easy access to. He had been dedicated to doing everything he can to ensure that it is grown to the highest possible standards of organic, sustainable gardening. Most of all, he wants to help bring a halt to the prosecution and imprisonment of people growing and distributing this magical healing plant. Due to a series of life threatening health issues, Tim has come to realize how important it is for everyone to not only grow organic cannabis but to also live organic lives; from the food they eat to the clothes they wear, to the homes they live in. That is what the Emerald Cup is all about- teaching, inspiring and sharing the knowledge of organic living with everyone. Tim believes this is the only way we can heal ourselves and this planet we call home.
In His Own Words
In 2003, during the fall, a friend of mine and I got to talking about the fact that Mendocino had the best bud on the planet but no form of acknowledgment or celebration for it. That was when it was still very iffy to be out front with having a public competition. We put out no press just some last minute posters, word of mouth and twenty-three entries into the ganja contest came forward. The crowd was small with very few even willing to be in the house with their faces seen, much less come forward for their prizes. Still, it was a wild night, everyone had a ball and other than the inevitable undercover agents, it was pleasantly uneventful.
The next year, we took the event more out front- putting up more posters, talking to more people, pushing the envelope. Slowly we crept into the light. Forty-three entries were put up and the bud was overall much better then the year before because then growers had begun growing their plants in the full sun. The show was headlined by the Avalon All-stars with Vince Welnick sitting in. Bless his heart, it turned out to be his last gig before his unfortunate demise.
By the third annual Emerald Cup competition, we all had medical permits and everyone was growing in the full sun. Marijuana was blooming right into mainstream America. The fourth year, we had fifty-one entries and in 2009 there were ninety-nine, all organic, grown in the sun as God intended. In 2010, we had our banner year of over one hundred and fifty entries.
The judging gets harder every year. The medicine is judged on color, smell, Trichomes, crystals, taste, vibrancy and finally how it changes the consciousness. Entries must be in a month before the Cup so our judges can assess them all. It is joy to be a part of this unique event, and we intend to keep doing this into the next millennium. We all have a part in this. Thank you for yours.
IRIE. You founded the Emerald Cup in 2003. How did the idea for a cannabis venue first come about?
Tim Blake: I grew up going to the county fairs each year. Like everyone, I enjoyed the smells and sights of the fair. I wanted to have a friendly competition for cannabis like they do for all the fruits, vegetables, and animals at the yearly county fairs. The Emerald Cup was created around that idea and desire. The original venue was an easy choice because I originally held it at my property, Area 101, which is a spiritual sanctuary and event center in Mendocino.
IRIE. As a cannabis grower and activist, cannabis and meditation is an integral part of your daily life. Can you explain?
Tim Blake: I’ve been smoking cannabis since I was thirteen. I started doing Transcendental Meditation at sixteen. I’ve been integrating both since then; over forty years now. I rarely smoke or vaporize before my daily meditation. I’m a workaholic and would never be able to keep up the pace I do without my meditation practice. I’ve encouraged my crews and family over the years to ‘smoke less and pray more’. Meditation is not only for the energy, it’s to take time off everyday to pray to our creator.
IRIE. Area 101, has been referred to as the ‘learning center’ of everything Cannabis.
Why is that?
Tim Blake: Area 101 is located on the highway 10 miles north of Laytonville. Its right at the base of Spyrock mountain, which is an infamous cannabis farming region in the Emerald Triangle. Years ago, I refused to hide and stay underground any longer which turned Area 101 into a safe haven for our cannabis family.
For the past seventeen years, we’ve created space at my place for the Emerald Cup (until we outgrew it), activists events, friendly cannabis related gatherings; cannabis farmers markets, and many local community events.
IRIE. Can you take us back to the first Emerald Cup? What was the vibe like for you and the attendees?
Tim Blake: It was combination of exhilaration and fear. I knew we were going out on limb, doing something that had never been done before so publicly in our region. So did everyone who attended that first Cup. Many wore masks, most refused to accept their awards or show up. It was a total act of rebellion, but look where it took us!
IRIE. What has your experience been like working with E.N Young on your album?
Tim Blake: It is such a pleasure, great experience, and learning process to be working with E.N Young,
and I am blessed to have his help in spreading my message. He is one of the most conscious, caring, and optimistic people you can meet. He has class, style, and finesse in his work ethic, and I feel as a new artist I am beyond fortunate to work with him. He has opened so many doors, for me and I am for ever grateful.
IRIE. What is your most memorable highlight from past Emerald Cups?
Tim Blake: There’s so many its hard to pick just one. It would have to be that first Emerald Cup,
looking out at the crowd from the stage, seeing all the growers and attendees standing tall, demanding our right to celebrate our harvest and competition. Looking out at the crowd from the stage the first year at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds was a rush too! Watching all of my heroes in our industry accepting their lifetime achievement awards over the past 12 years has been humbling too!
IRIE. Is it true that the Emerald Cup has now become a family affair?
Tim Blake: The Emerald Cup has always been a family affair. From the start it’s been about friends and family coming together for a peaceful celebration. My daughters and their partners have helped from the start. What you’re probably talking about is that my youngest daughter, Taylor, has co-produced the past two Emerald Cups. Taylor is slowing taking over my role and will eventually run the event. I’m very proud of her!
IRIE. What do you hope attendees take away from this year’s Emerald Cup?
Tim Blake: We’ve come a long ways since the prohibition of cannabis. With the signing of the recently passed legislation, we’re finally entering a new era! The main hope I have for folks attending this years Emerald Cup is that for they walk away feeling inspired by the California cannabis movement. For outdoor farmers, I hope they realize that as long as they produce an organic, quality product that there will be place at the table for them in the coming years.
For the patients, I hope they realize they will soon have far greater access to reasonably priced, quality medicine; and for all those who up till now have been afraid to participate in our industry or use cannabis for their various needs, its okay and safe now to join us! And of course I hope attendees enjoy all of the great music, world class speaking panels, and organic food vendors.
IRIE. California legalized medical marijuana in 1996. Do you believe California will be one of the next states to end marijuana prohibition and legalize recreational marijuana when the voters hit the ballot box in 2016?
Tim Blake: Absolutely! We’re going to pass an initiative in 2016 that will once and for legalize cannabis for adult use. My concern is that the main players in this are doing what they’ve been doing for years; fighting amongst themselves about who gets the credit, who runs the show, and who decides what we will live with. Its sad to see the self interests of the various activists organizations and the money people, at this time, being unwilling to put aside their differences and join together as one unified voice. I pray sanity prevails and we see everyone come together under one roof!
IRIE. How does the current drought situation in California affect the farming of Marijuana?
Tim Blake: Cannabis farmers are bearing the brunt of the negative press about water usage. However, all farmers, regardless of what they grow, are being severely affected by the ongoing drought. It’s affecting our families, the wildlife, the ability to produce our crops. If we have another year or two of limited amounts of precipitation, all farmers will be in trouble.
One positive thing that this crisis has brought is the necessary conversation surrounding water use across the state. Cannabis farmers are investing in more sustainable water catchment systems, like ponds, to reduce their need for outside water.
IRIE. Is there anything you would like to share with our IRIE audience?
Tim Blake: I would just want to remind everyone that even with legalization on the horizon for
California, the war on cannabis is not over yet! It won’t be until every man and woman wasting away in the prisons across this country for cannabis crimes are freed, and given their individual rights back. It won’t be over until every person in this country and the rest of the world get reasonable access to cannabis, for whatever needs they have. It won’t be over until we push all the pharmaceuticalcompanies, along with all the other corporations beating us down off a cliff, and take back all the freedom we’ve had confiscated from us. I don’t like confrontation; but I won’t stand down until we’ve truly turned our world into one of peace and harmony, something that’s stripped away from us.
IRIE. Nuff Respect, Tim!