Hi Friend,

Last week we learned that during the next fiscal year the county expects to collect $10.6 million in cannabis taxes alone. These projected revenues enabled Supervisors to budget essential public services throughout our community, especially for vulnerable populations such as seniors, communities of color and families struggling with food insecurity issues.

As an essential industry, cannabis businesses have continued to operate under strict safety protocols and precautions during the Covid-19 pandemic. In Santa Barbara County, cannabis farmers pay 4% on gross sales. The county will have collected more than $20 million in cannabis cultivation taxes by the end of this fiscal year. While other counties are grappling with furloughs that create an even greater demand for public services, Santa Barbara County is using this new revenue stream to retain its employees and deliver services.

Yet, amidst these contributions, cannabis farmers have faced constant appeals and hearings attempting to impede their livelihoods and farms, including Thursday’s County Supervisors’ meeting.

Following the hearing, Teddy Cabugos, owner of Sunstone Winery, released a statement to the Press. His comments are supported by the recent survey results (read the Polling Memo here) of more than 500 Santa Barbara County registered voters who strongly feel that Cannabis and Wine entrepreneurs should work together to spur economic growth and create sustainable jobs over the long term for local residents.

“It’s ironic that, when vineyards first emerged in the Santa Ynez Valley in the 1980s and ‘90s, the wine industry experienced similar resistance. The community feared alcohol would compromise the Valley’s integrity, and that wine culture would displace the cattle and horse-ranching tradition. However, cattle and horse-ranching were only two of the many cultures in the Valley’s recent history, including olive, peach, walnut, prune, cherry, quince, and dairy farmers, and Chumash inhabitants before them. Each of these cultures has made a lasting impact on the Valley’s rich heritage. As we now see, history is repeating itself.

Enter cannabis. We at Sunstone, among other wineries, envision a culture synergistic of cannabis and wine.  We envision the future birth of a new culture of class and elegance, where the community and visitors can visit wine and cannabis tasting rooms, further placing Santa Barbara County on the map as a world-class tourist destination. Like wine, cannabis is a connoisseur-good so specialized as to inspire tastings and a new vocabulary. If Santa Barbara acts with pioneering foresight, it will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to positively reinvent the cannabis image and define an entire industry.

We believe and emphasize that, for small wineries such ourselves, cannabis as a supplemental crop is critical to the viability of our businesses.  After more than twenty-five years of a robust wine industry in the Valley, wine is on a marked decline. Millennials are largely behind the decline, as they are disconnecting with alcohol for a variety of health and lifestyle reasons.  When millennials do choose alcohol, they now have diverse offers in breweries and beer and now recently many different Seltzers. As a result of this shift, many wineries now find themselves in the red, with many landowners facing foreclosure. With cannabis legalization and rediscovery of its medicinal, therapeutic, and recreational uses, we view cannabis with the potential to help save our wine business, and help revitalize the entire community. It can help save smaller wineries from going out of business, by diversifying their land and brand, so long as all the proper procedures are in place. We understand there are very wealthy wineries out there that don’t count on their winery business for income, many of whom actually use their winery as a tax write off. Not all wineries are in that position. 99% of the super wealthy wineries made their money in different businesses.

Now, in the midst of a global pandemic and economic shutdown, cannabis is more critical than ever to our community. Jobs and tax revenues are needed like never before. Around the country, cannabis revenues are saving counties, cities, and even states. Santa Barbara County is extremely fortunate that, through its climate and rich land, it has the potential to develop one of the most prosperous cannabis industries in the world. At this unimaginable time in history, we need to be thinking about ways to make it easier for responsible constituents or businesses to pursue the cannabis opportunity. We should be thinking about ways to make it easier to build this industry, to create massive job expansion, and to generate huge tax revenue for our community. Why would anyone want to crush that?”

We are grateful for neighbors and partners, like Teddy, represented across so many industries in our community. Thank you, as always, for your continued support at each hurdle. Together, we will thrive as good farmers and great neighbors.



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Hi Friend,

During this time of unprecedented social and economic upheaval, our farmers are doing everything in their power to continue supporting our community. They are working tirelessly amid the pandemic to ensure we can emerge from this crisis together, and that means bolstering our local economy and sustaining good jobs for local residents.

Taxes collected from the cannabis industry are one of the few stable revenue sources that Santa Barbara County can depend on as we continue to navigate this economic hardship. Next fiscal year, the county expects to bring in $10.6 million in cannabis taxes alone. This dependable source of revenue is being used to address budget shortfalls in essential public services throughout our community, especially for vulnerable populations such as seniors, communities of color and families struggling with food insecurity issues.

Supervisors Steve Lavagnino and Das Williams have been among the strongest supporters of our right to farm, standing in support even amid external pressure and misinformation campaigns. At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Lavagnino once again stood with our farmers, stating that “it’s been controversial, it’s been messy, but this budget without cannabis revenue would have been an unmitigated disaster.”

Supervisor Williams later stated …”we’re going to be able to help keep people safe and employed during what is becoming the worst economic downturn in our lifetime.”

The Board of Supervisors meets again this morning to discuss further changes to the cannabis ordinance. Let Supervisors Lavagnino and Williams know that you also stand with them and appreciate their efforts to spur the local economy, create sustainable jobs and stabilize the cannabis cultivation community in Santa Barbara County.

Santa Barbara County Total Agricultural Employment 25,400 (State EDD Data)

Cannabis Jobs Created to date – 6,100 (UCSB Economic Study)

You can voice your support here – send an email thanking Supervisors Lavagnino and Williams for their work on behalf of our farmers at [email protected] and [email protected].

Thank you, as always, for your continued support. Together, we will thrive as good farmers and great neighbors.

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Hi Friend,

Recent events, particularly the killings of Black men and women, including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, bring to light the deep-rooted systemic racism present in our society.

Good Farmers Great Neighbors stands shoulder to shoulder in support of peaceful protests manifested by Black Lives Matter and other civil minded groups and individuals advocating for racial justice, police and prison reform.

North County is enriched by the multi-racial diversity and cultural backgrounds in our communities. Solvang, Buellton and Lompoc residents joined peaceful demonstrations last week, as marches and vigils united people from every walk of life across the country. United we can, and will, turn fears into faith, hope, compassion and action, accepting and carrying out our shared responsibility to our neighbors and county.

Together, local businesses and farmers have worked to address the challenge of an immediate and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic health crisis – protecting the health and safety of our community members.

To this end, earlier this year, local farmers and business leaders have committed to developing a partnership with the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County as a community builder to help the most vulnerable populations in the area – seniors, people of color and children.

Please consider donating to the

Food Bank of Santa Barbara County here.

Santa Barbara County has the 3rd highest rate of “Food Insecurity” in the state, especially in North County. Systemic poverty, hunger and racism are in part intertwined and we have a moral responsibility to lend a helping hand. So far these efforts have helped feed more than 2,000 families.

As we close, we’d like to share light with reflections from anti-apartheid leader and former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela and former First Lady, Michelle Obama.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela

“Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of colour to deal with it. It’s up to all of us – Black, white, everyone – no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets.” – Michelle Obama in a statement following the harrowing death of George Floyd


Thank you, as always, for being a great neighbor!



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Hi Friend,

“For more than 5 years, North County cannabis farmers have been reaching out and developing partnerships with community groups, collaborating with independent wine grape producers, and creating jobs that will sustain economic activity during the most challenging times. We are internally delighted that the voters of Santa Barbara County support our mission and efforts to continue to build a foundation of shared prosperity.” – Co-Founders of Good Farmers Great Neighbors, John de Friel and Sara Rotman.


Earlier this year, we polled over 500 County voters on the economic, environmental, and health benefits in cannabis cultivation.

It won’t come as a surprise to most of us that voters responded with an overwhelmingly positive opinion of cannabis and its benefits for our community. Governor Newsom’s recent order declaring cannabis businesses as essential has only further validated our work. Take a peek at the polling memo here.

  • 68% of local voters supported extending right to farm protections for cannabis growers.
  • Even before the most recent economic downtown already 61% of Santa Barbara County voters strongly appreciated the revenue brought in by cannabis taxes.
  • 63% of voters further noted the environmental benefits from cannabis’ organic and pesticide-free cultivation.

The results of this groundbreaking survey go beyond their local assessment, and have important statewide and national implications as more communities begin to see the longer-term economic, social, and environmental benefits of cannabis tax revenue.

Views from Cannabis Leaders across the State and Country

“This survey is reflecting what we’ve known since the passage of Prop 64, that cannabis farming should be viewed equally to any other agricultural crop and have ‘Right to Farm’ status.” — Kristin Nevedal, Founder and Chair of the International Cannabis Farmers Association.

“Voters in Santa Barbara County are expressing a view we’ve been hearing across the state from policy makers that the cannabis industry has the potential to spur economic growth, create local jobs, and bring essential revenues to local government.” Lindsay Robinson, Executive Director of the California Cannabis Industry Association.

“With movement at the Nation’s Capitol to provide banking for essential cannabis companies, it is no surprise that this survey shows a microcosm of the industry’s progress. It provides additional momentum for Members of Congress to advance federal legislation for inter-state commerce next year.” — Randal Meyer, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce.

June 2nd Board of Supervisors Meeting

Santa Barbara County’s perception of the industry’s economic, social, and environmental benefits represents a roadmap for successful cannabis implementation and collaboration nationwide. But we still have work to do here at home. On June 2nd, County Supervisors will be meeting to discuss cannabis regulations again. View the agenda, send an email and learn how to get involved on the day here.

Throughout this process, our farmers have been grateful to you and the greater county for standing by their side. Now more than ever, they remain dedicated to bolstering the county’s economic wellbeing and giving back to their neighbors.

Thank you, as always, for being a great neighbor!


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Hi Friend,

Our farmers remain committed to supporting our local community and its economy through this crisis. By partnering with industries hit hardest by the pandemic, our cannabis growers are taking steps to see that the business community emerges from this uncertain time together.

Local restaurants have seen the support of our cannabis farmers firsthand. Buellton favorites Industrial Eats and Pattibakes commended their efforts, stating that “the opportunity to partner with essential businesses such as cannabis and agriculture helps us retain our workers and be optimistic about the future. We are stronger together.

Lompoc mainstay Floriano’s Mexican Food also praised their work, stating “we are fortunate our local cannabis farmers have always been a steadfast customer and supporter. We will get through these difficult times together.

Tell the Board that our county needs Cannabis farmers now more than ever

Our cannabis farmers know that as essential businesses, they must continue to step up not only on behalf of their peers in the business community, but for their dedicated workers. They are taking safety procedures to heart, and have taken every precaution to ensure their workers are protected.

While other counties grapple with furloughs and public service shortfalls, Santa Barbara County is using the cannabis gross sales tax revenue stream of over $20 million for this fiscal year to retain its employees and deliver services. This tax revenue will be critical in the coming months to help off-set potential budget cuts to vital government services for communities of color, seniors, and other vulnerable populations.

With drastic job cuts in the hospitality sector, we are now seeing children and families go hungry. Our promise to address Food Insecurity among our most vulnerable families in North County is steadfast and long term, please donate to our community partner Food Bank of Santa Barbara County here.

As our dedicated cannabis farmers strive to provide economic support to their community during these unprecedented times, they need your help to ensure they are allowed to continue our proud tradition of farming. You can voice your support and make sure County Supervisors know you stand with our good farmers by sending the Board a letter and re-tweeting your support.

Stay up to date with county issues impacting our cannabis growers by liking Good Farmers Great Neighbors on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support.

Stay informed. Follow us on social media for updated events and news stories.

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Hi Friend,

The COVID-19 crisis has wreaked havoc on our communities. We are grateful to see community members coming together to support one another during these difficult times.

As COVID related layoffs and furloughs have forced over 20,000 people to file for unemployment in Santa Barbara County alone, our cannabis farmers recognize their responsibility to their community now more than ever. Designated by Governor Newsom as an essential business, our farmers with the help of other essential agricultural business partners and health experts have developed best practices and tools to protect our workforce and keep them safe.

North County cannabis farmers are also doing their part to collaborate with local industries hit hardest by this crisis.

Our cannabis farms are working with beloved local eateries and restaurants to ensure they can weather this crisis. Local establishments such as Industrial Eats, Pattibakes, Floriano’s, Herb Home, Los Arroyos, and California Tacos are part of an effort to provide meals to our workforce through a food delivery service for all cannabis employees located at both farms and other facilities. As allies in our business community, we intend to continue finding new ways to collaborate and ensure our local independent businesses emerge from this crisis stronger than before.

Cannabis farmers are committed to continue to spur economic growth and job creation in the region. In 2018, we helped create almost 5,000 local jobs and today we are viewed as an essential economic engine to help in the county’s economic recovery and employment for local residents.

The cannabis tax revenues our county receives will be critical in the coming months to help off-set potential budget cuts to vital government services for communities of color, seniors, and other vulnerable populations.

Moreover, we are continuing our promise to address Food Insecurity among our most vulnerable families in the greater Lompoc Valley, please donate to our community partner Food Bank of Santa Barbara County here.

These times have impacted all of us in various ways, but we are all in this together. If you have a moment, please consider sending an email to our county supervisors to make sure they’re reminded of the efforts our community is taking to sustain our local economy and jobs.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support. Together, we will thrive as good farmers and great neighbors.

Hi Friend,

This week, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors held a budget workshop amidst the COVID-19 pandemic to help the public get a better understanding of the current economic situation and potential hardships ahead.One area of relatively good news to come from the workshop was the consistent and reliable revenue from the County’s cannabis tax collection. Over $8 million dollars in cannabis taxes were collected last year, and there is projected to be more than $10 million in the upcoming fiscal year.

Major news publications and media outlets underscored the importance and value of the cannabis industry in supporting Santa Barbara during these uncertain times, including KEYT, KCLU, and the Santa Barbara Independent.

The North County Farmers’ Guild is enormously appreciative of Governor Newsom’s directive deeming cannabis cultivation essential, as well as the supply-chain that supports the industry. This progressive act invariably saved hundreds of thousands of jobs and businesses across the state. As seen below in a graph compiled by Politico, California is one of only 22 states that have deemed cannabis businesses essential.

“As North County cannabis farmers, we are deeply aware of the challenges we all face as a family and community – continuing to provide good paying jobs, supporting our local restaurants, and assisting local organizations who help our most vulnerable during this time of crisis. We remain hopeful that we can sustain a viable partnership with the County and continue to provide vital tax revenue to its’ mission,” declared John De Friel and Sara Rotman, co-founders of Good Farmers Great Neighbors Community Initiative.

Thank you again, for your support and for sharing this journey with us.

Hi Friend,

Thousands in our community are hurting. Many who have never needed assistance from their local food bank before find themselves dependent on this important resource.
Over one million workers in the State of California have filed for unemployment.
In our own Santa Barbara County, more than 80,000 workers have been impacted by the closure of businesses due to the “stay at home” coronavirus mandate. People across nearly every industry are facing challenging times.
Santa Barbara County already has the 3rd highest rate of food insecurity in the state. Families and children in North County need our help to sustain their most basic needs of nutrition with healthy meals. One in five children are at risk of hunger in our community. Seniors are particularly vulnerable during this health crisis – unable to visit community centers to obtain their meals.
Central Coast Agriculture (CCA) has made a significant financial contribution to assist North County Families, sponsoring an effort to provide over 1,300 meals to children in need.
The Food Bank of Santa Barbara County is leading the effort to help feed all the needy families of the County, especially those residing in our surrounding communities – Lompoc, Buellton, Santa Maria, and Guadalupe.
Please consider joining CCA and other leaders of the North County Farmers Guild (NCFG) and the Good Farmers Great Neighbors Community Initiative in providing financial support to the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County by donating here.
Now more than ever your generosity and compassion is needed. We must help lift up those who may feel uncertainty and anxiety. We are one family, and we will all get through this together!  
You can volunteer at these local food distribution sites in Buellton:

County resources during this time, including emergency sites and food bank information, can be found here.

Thank you again for your support and for sharing this journey with us.

Hi Friend,

The Right to Farm is being threatened by some at the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission.

At a hearing tomorrow, the County Planning Commission will be taking up changes to the ordinance that could impact the right to farm. They are considering restrictions on one crop, cannabis, which sets a dangerous precedent on how all farmers tend to their livelihood. We need you to contact the Planning Commission today and tell them to reject these unnecessary changes.

Click HERE to send an email now supporting the Right to Farm.

The Planning Commission is proposing rules that an outdoor, sun grown crop must not have any smell that crosses a property line. This is a rule that would be nearly impossible for any farmer to comply with as nearly every crop produces some odor.
The cannabis industry is taking extraordinary measures to control and prevent odors. Their best practices also include adopting and implementing the highest management standards in pesticide-free organic cannabis cultivation, fair wages and hiring practices, and environmental stewardship.
If our county wants to preserve its agricultural heritage, it must protect the right to farm. Please send the Planning Commission a message to reject these rules.
Read more about the work our cannabis farmers have done to uphold best farming practices in the Santa Maria Sun and the Santa Barbara Independent.
Thank you again for your support and for sharing this journey with us.

Hi Friend,

With your support and perseverance, on Wednesday we at Busy Bee’s Organics finally received unanimous county board approval for our farming project. Though this is a momentous win for our family farm, workers, and the broader cannabis farming community, our victory is overshadowed by the uncertainty that the Covid-19 pandemic exerts over every corner of our lives and community. Those of us deemed essential employees will continue to serve the community, and we hope that everyone can stay safe as this public health crisis continues.

While we know we will continue to face challenges and challengers as we move through the regulatory system, we are ready to continue alongside our amazing community of friends and professionals who have shepherded us through the maze of regulations, and stood by the science to build a stronger agricultural community.

You can read about the Board of Supervisors’ meeting HERE.

We are so grateful for the support each of you has shown throughout this process; we couldn’t have done it without you! Last night after the dust settled, Nate and I felt a mix of relief and gratitude. But what made us the happiest was an overwhelming sense of community. We hope that our victory will help pave the way for more projects to successfully navigate this system.

Thank you again, for your support and for sharing this journey with us.

Now we plant,

Sara and Nate

Photo from Voice Magazine