CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing
1220 N Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
1-833-CALGROW (1-833-225-4769)

This is California Cannabis

Photo of Spencer Sanborn

Spencer Sanborn

Whitethorn, Humboldt County

About the Farm

Spencer Sanborn is the owner of CaliGardens, a small outdoor cannabis farm in the community of Whitethorn in southern Humboldt County. Sanborn bought the Whitethorn property, a long-time agricultural parcel, in 2011 and operated the farm with a medicinal marijuana license before California passed Proposition 64 in 2016. Sanborn grows 10,000 square feet of cannabis on his 6.5-acre farm, which includes a rotating variety of outdoor strains grown with “as much love and grace as I can foster.”

Like many small outdoor cannabis growers, he owes his success to hard work, diligence, and the help of friends and family. Sanborn also dabbles in other farm-related businesses—selling fertilizer, soil, and other services to area cannabis farmers. Spencer is a member of Flow Kana and joined the cannabis collective through the recommendation of his friend, John Casali, who owns Huckleberry Farms, another small cannabis farm in Humboldt County. Spencer has been with Flow Kana for two years. “What I like the most is the security; they buy everything I grow. And they are good people.”

“As farmers, we’re one foot in front of the other,” Sanborn says, explaining that his mantra on growing is simple. “It’s part science, part tedious work. When we’re doing good farming practices it’s because we are following the plants. The plants let us know.”

Benefits of the Legal Market

“Why did I go legal? Because of my son,” Sanborn says. “I want to create something within the legal framework to keep my family safe and to have something I can carry on.”

Sanborn says there have been challenges navigating through the growing pains of a new industry in California, but ultimately he appreciates his working relationship with the staff at the Department of Food and Agriculture. “I can call them, and they’ll answer. And that feels good.”

As for the rest of the industry making the transition to the legal market, Sanborn says, “It’s hard for the older guys who’ve been here for years to trust the system. There is a good-faith relationship being worked on by both sides.” Sanborn says he is encouraged and hopeful about operating in the newly regulated cannabis industry. “I’m feeling better about it all the time.”

Proud to Be a Licensed Grower

Sanborn is proud to be a licensed cultivator, especially in southern Humboldt County. He grew up in Pinole in the San Francisco Bay Area, and as a young child he spent his summers in Humboldt. That’s when Sanborn “fell in love with Humboldt,” even before cannabis entered the picture. He has lived in Whitethorn full-time for 15 years, and before that he spent his summers there for more than four decades. He cherishes the true sense of community the Whitethorn area embraces.

“I’m thankful I ended up in southern Humboldt County,” Sanborn says, “where cannabis growing has been alive for as long as almost any other place in the country.”

Return to the Farmer Profiles page