Unemployment may plague the rest of the state, but in Northern California, during fall and early winter months, work is abundant. The job? Harvesting marijuana and trimming buds. Season Work, or trim work is found in the region of the Sierra Foothills and in and around Humboldt county. To become a worker, one must get plugged in to the network of farmers who grow. Price per pound has dropped in recent years, and so what was usually a 200$ per pound gig can now look something more like 180 or 160 a pound. And that’s if you can trim fast enough to make ” a pound a day”. Trimming a pound a day, depends on multiple factors. First, the strand, how tight and large the buds are, your focus, and the dexterity in your hands. And, some growers own ma- chines that cut the time of trimming in half. So, if you trim for someone who uses a machine, you will receive an hourly pay, ranging 10-15 an hr.
1) Who works at trim camps?
Young adults from all over the world, including Israel, Germany, Finland, Canada, Russia and Costa Rica. You will meet elder econauts, west coast rainbow gatherers, professionals in their mid 30s-late 40’s, families of the growers, circus performers, fashion designers, visual artists, entrepreneurs, and many more!
If you can plan ahead, set up work with your friends.
2) What’s the work like?
You wake up, you trim, you break for meals, you trim, you go to sleep. Work is between 10-15 hours a day. Sometimes, there are no dry buds to trim and you will be harvesting more plants in the garden, or you will be bucking down plants, (which involves clipping the stem and buds from the large sticks that they grow on.) This then becomes hourly wage. Or, if there is no work, you will take a field trip! Field trips with fellow campers is an incredible bonding experience and filled with magic. You begin to develop deeper connections with a culturally diverse group of people that you may not have ever met otherwise. And, field trips that are paid for are even better! Imagine getting paid to see Cloud Atlas with kombucha, coconut bliss ice cream, and uncle Eddie’s vegan cookies, after sitting in front of green flowers all day, yum! Or, hitting harbin hot springs for a night or two, until more work is available.
3) Is there a party scene at night?
That depends on what you invite in. Certainly, if that is what you are looking for, there are scenes that can provide this experience. However, scenes are work heavy and focused. Meaning that your fellow campers are going to be goal oriented, stay up late and work to make a pound. A lot of the workers enjoy meditation, yoga, and playing light music in the evenings.
4) What should I bring?
A good pair of scissors found at grow shops or Friskers. Friskers will hurt your hands after awhile; scissors are much easier to work with. Get two pair, and label both with your name. Headlamps are helpful to have with you for late nights, as are a custom tray and jars. Your fingers, unless you wear gloves, will make hash from touching buds all day long, so coming pre- pared with your own oils to remove them (regular soap does not do the trick!) is also recommended. Definitely bring your smart phone or other music playing device. You will want your laptop, too. Depending on your location, wifi will be available.
5) What should I wear?
Anything you do not mind smelling like weed…forever! Trim will get all over your clothing, in your hair, in your nails, everywhere! Bring an apron! A good tip to keep the smell from infiltrat- ing your entire wardrobe is to separate your regular clothes from trim clothes in the wash.
6) What will I eat?
Meals are provided by your employers. How many meals a day are specific to each scene. For example, some scenes offer three meals a day, some only one. They are simple vegetarian meals; if you are lucky, they will be organic. And, if you are really lucky, meals may even be from the garden. A sample menu includes: oatmeal, small salad with soup, quinoa or brown rice with vegetables. Meals are shared amongst the whole camp and are eaten outside on picnic benches and rocks over looking the mountains and valleys! (yes! hooray!) Staple items provided are tea and coffee. What kind of tea varies. For example, do you love mate latte with cacao and maca? Well, you can certainly manifest it, but to be on the safe side, bring it with you. Budgets are limited (for most!).
Always ask! Or, volunteer to be a part of the kitchen staff and go on shopping trips. Of- ten, growers cannot manage the food, the plants, and you! So, helping with food is a great service to them, and you can ask to receive an hourly wage for being chef for a day. Helpful snacks to bring with you to work are: special teas, raw almond butter, raw cacao, super foods, avocados, nuts/seeds, bananas, and meat or eggs (if you eat it).
7) Will the work take a toll on my body?
You can expect to sit anywhere from 10-12 hrs a day. If you are quick, you may be able to schedule in breaks.You are responsible for you. You are your own best time manager. If you weigh out mid-day and are far away from reaching a pound, then you can gage how much time you want to take for break and then how much more time you need to sit. For proper body main- tenance take epsom salt baths at night ( when available), limit caffeine and other acidic sub- stances, a regular 5-10 minute break to stretch. Plan a hot spring trip directly after your work has concluded.Orr hot springs, Wilbur hot springs, and Sierraville are recommended. Soak, stretch, dance, go for a hike or a run before work. Maintaining a fluid body temple is very important in order to have the stamina to continue until the end of the season.
8) What else should I find out before I begin?
Every scene is different, so make sure to engage with the growers before committing to a job. Asking the following key questions is helpful:
What is the pay like? (per pound? hourly?) What are the accommodations like? Tent? Room in house? Off-site housing? Are we paid after it is sold or are we paid daily?
Growers are typically able to pay you when they are paid, but there are also those who pay daily. All work is paid in cash. And when choosing who to work for, always use your intu- ition like you would with any other job, (or anything else in your life!) Do you feel safe in the environment? Does the person’s energy leave you calm or excited? Do you feel they are reliable, honest, and truthful? Good vibes? Trust me, they will be thinking the same thing about you. You are being invited in to their home and there space and who is in it is important to them. Certainly an element of trust required for both parties involved.
Remember prospective camper, enroll in camp with an open heart and open mind and stories to share!
Image by Mark, courtesy of Creative Commons license.