SPARC’s Marigold line of sungrown marijuana is unique even among Northern California’s rich history and array of outdoor cannabis cultivation. As a brand, Marigold stands for quality, minimal environmental impact, and the core principles of organic and biodynamic farming. And it’s grown on especially fertile land that has been used for farming in the Sonoma Valley for over a century.
Acclaimed American writer Jack London discovered Glen Ellen, California in the later years of his life, using the proceeds from popular novels like The Call of the Wild to purchase a ranch on the eastern slope of Sonoma Mountain, in the Valley of the Moon. In 1905, he bought the first of what would ultimately be seven properties that he assembled into his Beauty Ranch, deciding to trade in his life as a gentleman adventurer to become one of some 3,000 farmers in Sonoma County. And it was here that he lived out his latter days, dying on the ranch 11 years later, in 1916, at the age of 40.
In that decade, London became Sonoma County’s most famous literary resident, and he befriended a Russian couple during those years named Vladimir and Olga Gordenker, who bought property not far from his. As family members explained to the Kenwood Press, Olga was gregarious and a natural friend to London, having emigrated to the U.S. after serving time in a Russian prison for her radical ideals. London was as passionate about socialism in his later years as he was about becoming a farmer, and he exchanged letters with Olga that show his admiration for her opinions on the world.
“My best friends are those with whom I hold the most decided differences of opinion, and I haven’t an ounce of respect for the person who sweetly and complacently agrees with everything one says,” London wrote in one such letter in 1909. “That’s why I like you.”
But the Gordenkers ultimately became much more successful as farmers than London did, evolving into major turkey farmers and purchasing what would become a 400-acre ranch in the heart of the valley. Olga lived until 1932, dying at the approximate age of 80, but her son Allan launched what would become a highly successful business raising turkeys for meat, which lasted on the property until the 1980s. In his twilight years, Allan Gordenker planted wine grapes, and the property continues to be used for farming, grape growing, and a functioning rock quarry that produces the prized Sonoma Gold limestone.
SPARC entered the picture in 2016, leasing a portion of the former Gordenker turkey farm to begin cultivating cannabis for the legal market. Marigold was launched as a way to provide cannabis consumers with high-quality, sun-grown marijuana flowers using the highest standards of organic and biodynamic farming — and it’s the first cannabis brand ever to receive Demeter certification for its biodynamic farming practices.
Much like Jack London did on Beauty Ranch a few miles away, SPARC’s farmers have been learning to raise crops according to cycles of the moon, using biodynamic compost and holistic agricultural techniques, right in the Valley of the Moon.
By 2020, the Marigold line has grown to include biodynamic varietals like Purple Punch, Black Jack, Peach Puree, and Blue Dream, to name a few. The farm is slowly repurposing a defunct quarry, filling it in with fertile soils to be used for more cannabis cultivation. And alongside an organic vegetable farm and a vineyard on the Gordenkers’ land — planted in 1999 — Marigold cannabis is part of a diverse ecological system that continues to profit off the riches of the Northern California sun.