Commemorating the Last 10 Years of Dark Heart Nursery

 After a decade of providing the best quality clones you can find, our founder Dan Grace takes some time to share his perspective. Dan and Dark Heart have shared quite a journey. In this post, he relives the history of DHN and takes a peek at the future.
Without further ado, here is Dan’s letter to you And the community:

Before the nursery days, I was a cannabis grower. Ten years ago, I set up my first grow in the basement of a modest split-level bungalow in Oakland. A friend and I each scraped together a few thousand dollars working menial labor jobs. We pooled our money together to buy used grow equipment on Craigslist. And we went to work on the basement space.

I taught myself how to install electrical service from youtube videos and home repair books. We built the grow room and installed our first eight lights. Ten years ago, the wholesale price for premium indoor cannabis was hovering around $4,000. We were excited at our prospects and imminent financial success; but we were also young and naive.

That first year we made just about every mistake you could make. Our lights were too dim, the room was too hot, pests infiltrated our grow, our genetics sucked, we got ripped off and the list goes on. The variables in the art and science of cannabis growing are many. It’s hard work, as you know. In those early days, I would work 10-hours digging ditches as a landscaper only to come home to another eight hours tending to the plants, fixing electrical, harvesting, trimming, etc. And you know what? We barely broke even.

We weren’t Dark Heart back then, but looking back, I think of it as the true beginning. Those experiences taught us the most important lesson: that growing cannabis is farming. And farming is hard work.

Farming any crop is hard enough as it is. But with cannabis, we found whole other levels of difficulty. The first blaring difference is the Prohibition growers faced and the challenges that come with the work. We fight pests and weather like any other farmer, but we also risk imprisonment, theft and violence. We struggle with cultural stigmas, the banks don’t take our money, landlords evict us with no notice, the list goes on…

All the hard work and risk was worth it, for many reasons. Working for ourselves and within the community was a big plus. Initially we had a lot of trouble with our genetics. Our first plants came from a shady back alley deal we orchestrated on Craigslist. The plants were spindly, pest-infested, and stunted. After a few runs, we found new sources for clones and hit on our first two winning strains: Sensi-Star and Hindu Skunk.

That following year, my partner Sara and I built our first small warehouse grow. Our friends at Oaksterdam Nursery taught us how to make great clones. We started off cutting clones for ourselves, but then started sharing them with our friends and, later, the greater community.

Over time, we got better at it and focused more on selecting high-quality genetics. We knew that our first grow experience would have been much easier with better clones. And we realized that with our newfound skills, we could improve others’ experiences.

 

And that’s how Dark Heart Nursery began. It’s been a wild ride, with stratospheric highs and subterranean lows. That first growing experience, however, has served as our guiding light. We believe cannabis farmers have a hard enough time as it is. Issues with clones and genetics shouldn’t be a problem for growers to deal with.

Every day we strive to find new ways to improve the farmer experience.  And every day, we work to be a little bit better than the last. We’ve come a long way, but there’s more work to be done.

In the next decade, we plan to make more progress in serving cannabis farmers by:

  • Producing more clones, so that everyone can get the clones they need, when they need them
  • Sourcing and breeding strains with improved yields and higher quality flowers
  • Introducing novel approaches and technologies to clone production, like tissue cultures
  • Better understanding and eliminating diseases that impact cannabis cultivators

All in the name of making life a little easier for cannabis farmers.

From the beginning, I was an activist with a green thumb. And I know we wouldn’t have made it as far as we have without the help of countless other activists, farmers, and community members along the way. This sense of camaraderie and commitment continues to drive us to improve our service to the community.

Thank you all for your love and support. Here’s to another 10 years together!

Sincerely,

Dan Grace

  • Derek Gilman

    From humble beginnings, a legend is born. Your diligent devotion to quality is truly inspiring, Dan. Congratulations on 10 years of continued improvement and success!

  • Beth Grace Silver

    An outstanding story, beautifully written. Congratulations on your success and all our best wishes for a prosperous future.

  • Gary Goodman

    Thanks for persisting in this work and in constructing the story of the difficult conditions and transition to a legal business.
    While I am writing, I encourage you to explore making clones of some old favorites with proven medical properties: such as lavender to counter insomnia and induce sleep– without which our health declines steeply. While I enjoy new varietals — The White last year was a great new option–

    it seems that the advertising benefits of that hot new thing (whatever it is) override the primary purpose of making medical marijuana as available and high quality as possible.

    • Dark Heart Nursery

      Thanks for the recommendation. We always try to keep the classics around, even as we add new variety. We’ve never had lavender in the line up, it’s definitely a goody. We’ll keep an eye out for a great cut!

  • Patricia Williams

    It was awesome meeting and with you @ Oakland’s First Friday Fund Raiser! Your article and conversation are inspiring on growing in the Bay Area.

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