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One Good Year (2014)

“Many years ago, they made a move back to the land.
I won’t tell on you. Don’t you tell on me. It’s just a family felony.”
-The Camo Cowboys

They are farmers living off the grid. In the remote backwoods of Humboldt County, these homesteaders just want to be at home to plant their own food, harness solar and wind power, and live the gentle, quiet life. Marijuana growing allows them this. No boss. No time clock. This is their lifestyle.

In Mikal Jakubal’s serene One Good Year, a whole marijuana growing cycle is chronicled from start to finish. But these aren’t large marijuana growing operations and, quite frankly, small is how the profiled farmers prefer to work. For three generations, these trimming crews have built a thriving alternative culture around California’s most valuable cash crop and they take pride in organic, sustainable small-scale farms: healthy alternatives to the paraquat-sprayed products that come from down south. What’s more, the local authorities are happy and the regional economy thrives on everything from soil hauls to coffee shop patronage. But even with lax state laws and a budding connoisseur market, there’s still fear and concern of intervention at the federal level. Nevertheless, these farmers and their communal families continue to work hard living off the grid.

The profiled farmers in One Good Year become the voice of using “sunshine and dirt again,” championing sustainable living through methods like stone masonry and natural irrigation. They’re willing to stand their ground because of their connection and commitment to their land and lifestyle. As farm owner Jory puts it, their goal is like anybody else’s: “All I ever wanted was a home.”

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