Los Angeles agricultural activist and filmmaker Rafael Quezada has been working to promote sustainable agriculture and foods for several years and has now turned his attention and camera lens to one of California’s newest forms of agriculture: marijuana.
Quezada is the founder and executive director of The RootStalk Foundation, which is working to become a nonprofit corporation.
Like his organization, Quezada said the documentary he is working on would serve as an educational tool for children and adults alike to promote sustainable and “pure” forms of agriculture using science-based practices that do not harm the environment and do not generate waste and impacts as significant as those of industrial agriculture.
With cannabis having its own long history and California voters deciding to legalize adult use of the plant after a 104-year-old ban, Quezada saw an opportunity to combine the two subjects.
“For me, that became like a locomotive because of the pent-up demand that literally is 104 years’ worth of interest that people can’t act on because of its criminal nature,” he said.
“Consequently, there is pent-up demand and pressure on the status quo to change,” he said. “On that basis, I thought it would be a good thing to compare the ancient form of agriculture that is cannabis and industrial hemp with pharmaceuticals and industrial food while at the same time drawing the parallel on what we can do with purity protocol compared with what industries are providing for us today.”
The documentary is still in the early stages, with Quezada having compiled a reel in which he has interviewed agricultural producers and cannabis industry stakeholders from throughout California. Among those interviewed are Humboldt County Cannabis Chamber of Commerce founder and Fortuna resident Allison Edrington and Wonderland Nursery owner Kevin Jodrey of Garberville.
With regard to marijuana, Quezada focused on Humboldt County in Northern California where he lived briefly during the 1970s. He said that the producers in Humboldt County have a leadership role in the cannabis industry for sustainable production that they have not yet assumed, but should.
Quezada is a supporter of aquaponics in agriculture, which combines aquaculture — the practice of raising aquatic animals in controlled environments — and hydroponics, which is the practice of cultivating plants in water. Aquaponics works by using the water from aquaculture tanks and transferring them to a hydroponics system, where the animal’s excretions can be used to provide nutrients to the plants. The excrement-free water is then recirculated back to the aquaculture tanks.
Quezada said he has met eight cannabis farmers that use aquaponics in California, but noted that many producers are still using conventional methods, which have issues of their own.
“Until the growers in Humboldt County learn from their own leaders that there is a more pure way to do this, we’re still going to have a lot of chemicals in our delivery of cannabinoid products,” he said.
Quezada is planning to pitch his film to media companies that produce “socially conscious productions,” such as Participant Media.
“The issues to be covered in the documentary take the idea of using purity in nutrition to teach STEM and Next Generation Science Standards, K-12, to achieve a better logical conclusion: Practical, profit-based applications benefiting society that use the purity protocol inherent in aquaponics, Spirulina algae, industrial hemp and cannabis agriculture to lift people from disease and hunger; providing, literally, a chance for them to lift prosperity from seed — the way all great economies began,” Quezada said.
Editor’s note: In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted the filmmaker’s brother is a freelancer for the Eureka Times-Standard.