In it for the Long Haul

Hayfork Couple, M & F

Living in Hayfork 20 years


T_R

So, when you began growing to supplement your income, there weren’t viable employment options?

M: Not for what we needed.

F: No, the only two employers in town were the Forest Service and the school. That’s it. If you didn’t work for one of those, then you didn’t work.

M: (Around the time we started growing in larger amounts) things were changing socially in Hayfork. It was really anti until about 11 years ago. I (only) smoked with 2 people in town…

 

“It was definitely something where we felt it would be detrimental to our life in Hayfork if people knew we grew pot.”

You felt like you had to hide it?

M: Yeah, I definitely wasn’t going to share it.

During that period of time what do you think would have happened if people found out? Do you think you would have run the risk of getting fired?

M: I mean, I think for sure (I ran) the risk of getting fired. It was definitely a little more taboo.  

So you were saying before that one of the weirdest things about this industry was—

F: The duality. Well, because that’s how we felt, it was definitely something where we felt it would be detrimental to our life in Hayfork if people knew we grew pot. (M) would have definitely lost (M’s) job if people knew. We had a friend […] and he had a fire on his property and he got found out and he lost his job. So that was terrifying. It was like ‘oh my god, if they knew what we were doing’ we would definitely lose our town life, and if we lost that we would have to leave Hayfork.

How did that impact you? Having to be secretive?

F: Oh, it was emotionally exhausting, really. It was hard to interact in one social group and have to be one person when you’re really something completely different. And we used to talk about that all the time. It was emotionally exhausting, really, not to be able to be ourselves, and let people know who we really were, and we didn’t feel like we were bad people.

“It was hard to interact in one social group and have to be one person when you’re really something completely different. And we used to talk about that all the time. It was emotionally exhausting, really, not to be able to be ourselves, and let people know who we really were, and we didn’t feel like we were bad people.”

M:(At one point when I was working) I remember one day having (a woman) come in and she had a big ol’ fat nug stuck to the bottom of her shoe, and somebody else saw it and we all sort of just laughed because we were all in the same boat where our home lives… we were trying to have this façade, but then the ice finally got broken. We all realized that we were all doing the same thing and it was so liberating. It completely changed my experience, because at that point socially we didn’t have a lot of people to the house.

What’s different in terms of feeling like you have to hide less? How have things changed?

M: We became more comfortable as the culture in town became more comfortable. You know it wasn’t us pushing an agenda or anybody. It was just there became more and more young people with families and they came to this area and this (marijuana growing) is what they were here to do, to try to set roots down, and this is how they were going to make an economy.

How has marijuana growing impacted the community?

M: Way more positive than negative I would say. Definitely from a financial standpoint obviously, completely. I mean you joke about it but when we got here there were no nice cars in town.

F: There were no young people in town. We used to joke around that us and (M) were the only people under forty, literally, in the late 90s. And sure there was a handful of Forest Service people, but that and the school were the only employers, so there was no new blood coming to town, there was no youth. All the programs for the kids had gone away, and all the older people were looking at us and saying ‘we’re old and we need young blood, we need to pass the torch of these community programs’ and all this stuff, but who were they passing the torch to? There were no young people, the schools were dying; everybody was leaving.

M: I mean there was a solid core though, of people, of teachers and their kids, who were definitely doing a lot.

F: Yeah, but it was the same people doing everything, and they were all tied to the school or the Forest Service.

For people who are really mad about what’s happening with marijuana in the community, what do you think is the motivator for their position?

Environmental impacts. I know that part of it is environmental impact. And for other people it’s selfishness because this is a beautiful place and they don’t want to share it. It’s a bummer that the lot next door used to be vacant, but now there’s people on it. They want to keep the small town. They want it to stay pristine. A lot of the old timers they don’t want change, good or bad, and with the influx of new people, and money and all of this..well, it’s changing. Things change. I don’t think that building a big wall around us and not allowing people to move in is going to keep this place pristine.

What would you like to have happen in the community in the future?

F: I’d like to see control and regulation; I’d love organic standards. I think that as a community we can create a place that embraces the environment, and embraces the industry, and make this a super awesome place to be. I mean, with pot comes money, and with money comes options, and programs, and livelihoods, and happy people. I’d like to see this place thrive.