It is referred to as the “salad bowl of the nation,” best described in iconic pages when John Steinbeck, American author and son of Salinas, put pen to paper in most of his classic writings.
It’s here where Japanese immigrants found their American dream after World War II in the cut flowers business, evident even today.
“A lot of these houses are Japanese-style houses,” said Alicia, a cannabis properties realtor.
Alicia agreed to show us around the valley on the condition we don’t share her last name. She specializes in the new green that’s growing here, pointing out farms she says are now cannabis farms.
“Look. Barbed wires, cameras,” she said.
Alicia works to sell, buy or manage what used to be properties housing the booming flower market, properties that have since fallen apart due to various free trade agreements over the years.
She says ever since California legalized marijuana, there’s new life breathing into the valley and sucking dry the idea of continuing with the cut flowers business, when owners can sell their properties for millions.
“It wouldn’t make sense to grow flowers, you know, at $5 million,” she said.
Under new California law, cannabis cultivators are banned from building new greenhouses, unless they are built in the footprint of old ones.
So any “green” house in the state has the potential to evolve into a “grow” house.
“California cannabis is its own brand, no different than California wine or anything else,” Michael Williamson, the director of operations at Harborside, a leading cannabis grower and distributor in northern California.
He says his hairnet, white jumpsuit and gloves are a way to keep the product pure and free from human interaction.
“When you look at our product and our plants, it’s really not that different than a lot of the cut flowers market,” he said. “Which makes this valley kind of the potential to be the Sonoma Valley of cannabis.”