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The Golden Tarp Awards began in 2014 on a mission to recognize the cannabis farmers who have shown exceptional skills and craftsmanship in light deprivation. Light deprivation, as known as “light dep”, is the process of forcing plants to flower with sunlight in a time of year that is not normally the flowering period of the sun’s natural lighting cycle.

Similar to controlling the light cycle with a grow light by turning it on and off with a timer, farmers can control the budding cycle by blocking the sunlight, and make the plants think it’s time to flower.

As we approach the 4th Annual Golden Tarp Awards, we had a chance to sit-down with the team and learn more about the vision of the Golden Tarp awards, and what you can expect at this year’s event and much more!

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DCN: Can you please share a little bit about yourselves to our readers?

Kevin Jodrey is one of the most well-known growers in Humboldt County and is an internationally respected cannabis expert, known for improving and forwarding the modern cannabis movement. As a world-renowned hunter of ganja genetics, Kev is fascinated by the search for rare, desirable, and marketable traits. Kevin is the creator of Port Royal, owner of Wonderland Nursery, and co-founder of The Ganjier. He’s been a cannabis cultivator for decades, running this own operations and offering consulting services to the broader community. He’s spoken at universities, judged at the Emerald Cup, and consulted on cannabis-related educational shows for National Geographic and A&E.

Featured in the New York Times, a Pulitzer prize-winning Washing Post article, countless other articles, books, and radio and tv shows, he is at the epicenter of the Green Rush (and graces the walls of the Oakland Museum to prove it) and is guiding the industry as it transitions to the Clean Rush – the sustainable movement of regenerating the land naturally through cannabis cultivation.

Dennis Park has been a technology and online strategy consultant in the cannabis space since 2010 and launched Ganjier Solutions in 2014 to support the needs of the California Cannabis industry. Ganjier Solutions specializes in online media strategy, custom web development, and branding. A trusted resource and strategic partner, Dennis helps to bridge the divide between where cannabis brands are today to where they wish to be in a legal, regulated cannabis economy. During his career, Dennis has worked with leaders in the California cannabis industry; The Emerald Cup, SC Labs, Wonderland Nursery, Cannabusiness Law, Americans for Safe Access, NORML Women’s Alliance, Berkeley Patient Care Collective to name a few. His client focus is to help demystify online and social strategies to work for cannabis brands of all sizes.  

William “Big Oos” Pedro is the cultivation manager at Wonderland Nursery and a long time business partner of Kevin Jodrey. His knowledge and understanding of cannabis are second only to Kevin’s and when issues arise at the nursery, Pedro is the solution and quietly brings things under control. A trusted partner, Pedro provides project management of the operational side of the event. In other words, he takes care of the details and handles business.

Kevin Jodrey, William Pedro & Dennis Park. Founders of Ganjier Media and The Golden Tarp Awards

DCN: What is the Golden Tarp event?

It’s an event that’s respected by the Industry. High testing standards — high expectations of dankness. This is a cannabis flower competition for light deprivation farmers only, and your flowers need to be clean and powerful for a chance in the Top 16. The Golden Tarp Award celebrates cannabis grown using sunlight using light deprivation techniques to take advantage of nature but still producing cannabis with ideal indoor visual characteristics.

DCN: How did the event originate?

Light dep practices began to flourish in the Emerald Triangle’s craft cannabis community in the early 2010’s, particularly in Humboldt. This technique produced exceptional quality cannabis with high cannabinoid and terpene levels within a shorter time frame. Even though light dep farmers were producing stellar flowers, many weren’t being recognized for the high levels of craft they were achieving. Kevin Jodrey and William “Oos” Pedro of Wonderland Nursery wanted to change that.

The Golden Tarp Award is designed to recognize the farmers who show exceptional skill and craftsmanship in light dep, at an event that is right here in the heart of Humboldt County. Since the inaugural event in 2014, we have invited sponsors and vendors who we know and trust to participate every year, and we continue to welcome qualified speakers to tackle timely topics and the pressing questions in our community.

DCN: When did this event start?

Our first year was 2014.

DCN: How has the event changed each year?

Every year the event there are more entries and the quality is stunning. As people perfect their cultivation approaches the consumer is the one that really benefits and we love being able to showcase this talent. We’ve also evolved our event to address the concerns and needs of our community. First, started out with a different approach to categorization. Then we implemented a zero tolerance for pesticides in our entries. This year, we’ve updated the microbial limits on microbial lab testing to be inclusive of biodynamic approaches to cultivation.

The biggest changes for this year will be the Judge’s Livestream allowing a behind the scenes look into what the Judging of the cup is, live interviews with industry leaders, speaker sessions and a peek behind the Redwood Curtain. Take a look the video here.  

DCN: How has the community responded to the Golden Tarp event?

We have incredible support from the community because they fully understand that our goals are to help highlight and connect these cannabis entrepreneurs with other businesses to support and consumers to build their business with. Our mission is to help shine a light on the expertise and experience that is here in our regions as well as to highlight the cannabis production and quality of light dep cannabis.

DCN: Why do you believe an event like the Golden Tarp is important?

We believe that there are alternatives to cultivating than just indoor. Indoor was mostly a response to the illicit nature of the industry but as we go legal and are allowed back into the light, so to speak, we are also able to leverage more natural inputs and as a result, are needing to improve farming practices. Light dep allows for the use of more natural inputs like sunshine but also allows you to trick the plant into flowering to schedule to mimic the market characteristics of indoor-grown cannabis. So light dep will help the smaller farmer scale up and still retain their more chemical-free approach to cultivation as well as allowing large indoor grows to reduce costs by moving towards a greenhouse/light dep approach.

Ultimately, we believe the majority of cannabis will be produced this way in the market to leverage the commercial incentives and the craft approach. Our event is celebrating the incredible skill and quality of what is being produced with this approach and at scale by what we consider artisans of cannabis production.

DCN: What can attendees expect this year?

They can expect to interact and communicate more freely as everything we are doing is to put more information out there to prepare both entrepreneurs for the market as well as consumers to what they’ll be seeking and smoking in the near future.

DCN: Any cool activities you want to highlight?

Yes. Our live stream of the panel will be so we can share the information but not be limited by geographic restrictions. The information discussed is important for those moving through compliance and facing 2018 legal cannabis. Our Judge’s feed is meant to show consumers an alternative to indoor through light dep cannabis and to share the conversations and insights of the cannabis judges who come from both cannabis professional backgrounds as well as random, lucky consumers who are just attendees who won a judging spot.

DCN: How many attendees do you expect this year?

Physically we expect anywhere between 500 to 700 people attending the event but we expect far greater numbers online. As well, the nature of the live stream is that it will be captured in its entirety for post-event viewing well into the next year.  

DCN: You have built a strong speaker list, what were the criteria for speakers?

We are typically very cultivation and regulatory focused in our panels because of the nature of our community. Last few years we discussed concepts like living soil, IPM (Integrated Pest Management) and compliance panels. This year we are looking to the many challenges of 2018 with panels focused on the market the community is entering.

So our topics are about how mainstream use is expanding via the Athlete’s panel, the lessons learned on the craft model front by people creating the market, lessons from people on the local regulation level and addressing the challenge of out of date testing standards that do not account for a biodynamic approach to farming cannabis but is being championed to address pesticide-related health and safety concerns. All these matters affect the entrepreneur’s ability to compete in the newly regulated market.

DCN: The cannabis community is moving towards becoming an industry, what do you want our readers to be reminded of as things start to change?

We want your readers to understand that the nature of cannabis in society is changing due to legalization and the people responsible for providing cannabis is changing. We believe that there is space for both corporations and small/medium sized businesses but that will only happen when people ask for it or are motivated to support local and non-corporate businesses.

We consider a good analogy to be hothouse vs. heirloom tomatoes. There are a market and reasons for both. Like heirloom is a little more costly, time-intensive and flavorful…not everyone cares or wants that difference. Some do. For those that do…it’s the small and medium-sized farmers that are bringing that to the table.

DCN: What is the criteria for those who submit their products to be judged?

Must use light dep cultivation techniques to enter and our testing is thorough. We have a zero tolerance for the presence of pesticides. If present, our judges don’t even see it. We’ve updated our testing standards this year for the biodynamic farmers affected by the City of Berkeley microbial limits.

This year we’ve had the most entries ever, over 200+

DCN: What are you hoping happens in 2018 as California moves towards recreational cannabis?

We hope that the regulations are inclusive of all sizes of business and that those laws and regulations around smaller businesses are figured out quickly. The delays in deciding on or re-addressing bad policies for this demographic can result in their business running out of time or money to be compliant.

Large corporations with deep pockets can weather large losses and survive but the same is not really said about smaller entities. We want there to be a healthy craft industry to supply the diversity of genetics and cannabis quality in the market to enjoy cannabis at its utmost potential. Legalizing cannabis to end up with Corn’s fate in terms of genetic diversity would be a horrendous loss to society both recreationally and medically.

DCN: What are you worried about as we move to recreational cannabis and how can we as an industry work together to tackle those worries?

The strain is visible for those that are moving from the illicit to legal. Business models that worked before are not working with the level of oversight and regulatory influence. Also, competition is sharply increasing and the road is beset by many offering solutions that go nowhere. Although we understand not everyone will make it through the transition to a legal landscape, there must be a healthy portion that does.

And that will only be possible by supporting one another despite competition. That’s why organizations like California Growers Alliance and Humboldt County Growers Alliance are so important. They look out to support those striving to move to a legal landscape and empower them to compete in a legal market alongside corporations and mainstream entrepreneurs — but if we lose too much of the sense of community that defined people working in this industry, we lose the soul of this new legal industry when we have an opportunity to create a better way.

DCN: Anything else you would like to share with the DCN community?

Be aware that there is always a choice as a consumer and that choice has power. It impacts the lives of the people involved in bringing you that product or service. We ask that you remember when you make your choices between your cannabis source that there is a real person behind that product making its way to you. Who do you wish to support?

Will you be attending the Golden Tarp awards? You still have time to RSVP today, visit www.thegoldentarp.com to learn more!

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