Father, age 74

Long term Hayforker, retired, former millworker and logger

Tom works on his son’s marijuana farm.                                                                                                                 Learn more about their story here.


Tom de-leafing buds to prep them for curing. Photo by Talia Herman.

How long have you been living in Hayfork?

I’m 74 years old. I’ve been living in Hayfork since 1948. I’ve got 3 kids, all born and raised here, and they all left and came back.

How long have you been growing marijuana for income?

Since it’s been legal. I was always growing in the woods, not a lot, just enough to get by on. I’ve been farming since 1973. I grew some to smoke, usually 2-3 plants.

What kind of work did you do before?

I worked in the woods. I worked at the sawmill for 17 years, and was falling trees for 18 years. I was here for two mill closures… the first mill, Trinity Alps, I started working there when I was 17. I worked there for 9 years and they shut it down.  Then I did logging and tree falling, worked for a contractor. I like bein’ out in the woods. No one bothers you and you can do what you want.

What was it like when the mills closed?

The first one devastated the town, houses weren’t worth a lot, people sold houses and moved away… I couldn’t move. The other (second mill closure) was devastating. There were no jobs for people.

Bins of de-leafed marijuana await curing. Photo by Talia Herman.

Why did you start growing marijuana?

Because it was legal and I needed the money. I only make $1500 a month for social security, for me and my wife. That isn’t good money. I had land, but I needed a new house and I had to have a way to pay. But there were no work opportunities. I had a five way bypass heart attack. I got a defibrillator put in; keeps my heart going right. There’s not much work I can do, but I can sit in a chair (and process marijuana).

What do you think about how marijuana growing is impacting the community?

I think it’s done it up good, but they let it get too far out of hand. Numbers are too high, they let it be up in the hundreds. Everybody moved here to farm. They (newer marijuana growers) should just grow 12 or 8 like the rest. Maybe they’ll go to Oregon or Washington. Things have changed a whole lot, there’s more crimes. I’ve lived here almost 70 years and I don’t regret it, but if it gets crazier I’ll move. There’s home robberies and that kind of crap. I’d like more rules so they wouldn’t do hundreds (of marijuana plants) around you.