By Jonah Raskin; photo by Steve Krause, Valley of the Moon magazine, February 2018
Last October, just days after a raging fire destroyed much of his bumper crop in Sonoma Valley, Erich Pearson told a reporter: “We’re in fight and rebuild mode.” Soon afterward, he explained, “We got water to some of our plants and salvaged part of our garden.” But he wasn’t able to save eight structures on the property that he leases in Glen Ellen, and that’s at the heart of his sustainable marijuana enterprise. By the time he and staff members woke and rolled out of bed, the fire was too far advanced to contain it. But Pearson and his crew managed to wage a successful battle against flames on nearby Trinity Road. “We saved properties and rescued horses and cats that belonged to neighbors,” he says. “Several places had the potential to re-ignite, and we prevented that from happening.”
Would he rather fight a fire or be a bureaucrat behind a desk in Sacramento?
“We’re good at both,” he says with a laugh. “But I’d rather fight a fire. Fire is predictable.”
Putting out fires, helping neighbors and salvaging crops have been a big part of Pearson’s life since 1998, when he arrived in California from Indiana and began to cultivate, harvest, transport and sell marijuana.