Stephen Gieder — local cannabis event organizer and business visionary

Stephen Gieder

By Monica Robinson

Flapjack staff

After a troubling incident a year and a half ago Stephen Gieder intervened an unbalanced fight in the back alley of the Plaza in Arcata, California. While walking away, after believing he had verbally resolved the altercation, Gieder was attacked and struck down. He said there were at least 15 witnesses nearby and not one person checked in or offered to help.

Gieder was disturbed when he saw how disconnected people have become from one another and wanted to help elicit change. Gieder gave a good ol’ Facebook rant and set up a meeting at the Jambalaya in Arcata. To his surprise 35 people showed up.

“He wants everyone to be involved, keep people connected and rise the vibration,” says Sasha Miksis, 33, Gieder’s friend and co-worker.

The first two meetings identified problems and came up with solutions. The CPP started Street Clean Up on Fridays, which expanded to free yoga on the plaza Saturdays and the Plaza Play Group for kids on Sundays. The safety task force, created by the city of Arcata, deals with the same issues and works in conjunction with CPP.

Gieder was born on Oct. 27, 1976. and grew up in Pennsylvania, where he attended Williamson Trade School and studied horticulture and landscape design. After graduating and spending a year in Colorado, Gieder realized he wanted to be a part of the cannabis industry. Gieder drove across country towards Humboldt County and stopped near Lake Tahoe. While visiting Tahoe he went out for coffee and donuts and came back an hour and a half later with a job. Three years later, while walking his dog, he stumbled across Stan “the man” and Steve Muller opening a hydroponic shop in 1998.

As a graduate in Horticulture and Landscape design, Gieder would sit in the shop and consult the store owners when it first opened. At the time people didn’t really understand the science of it, but he had the knowledge and background to help people.

“Some people’s minds work scientifically; my mind works horticulturally,” Gieder says. This experience inspired Gieder to start his own horticulture supply store in Humboldt County.

Gieder started Northcoast Horticulture Supply in 2002. NHS sells cultivation supplies to indoor and outdoor farmers in Humboldt County at its four retail locations in Fortuna, Eureka, Arcata and McKinleyville.

In order to get the best product and deliver it at the lowest possible price, Gieder started Humboldt Wholesale, a nationwide manufacturer and distributor of specialty garden supplies. This allowed him to import from Holland the finest production nutrient line in the world, House & Garden.

“Steve’s a doer,” Ken Hamik, 59, Gieder’s business partner, says. Hamik wants to write a book on him called “Gieder Done.” Gieder embodies visions more than most people.

“Steve is where the rubber meets the sky,” Hamik said. “He starts and finishes things.”

After nearly a decade of being the sole distributor of House and Garden in the United States, Gieder purchased the company and moved manufacturing of the nutrient line to Arcata, California.

Gieder has always taken pride in building the local economy and continues to do so by employing over 100 individuals. For the 15 year anniversary of NHS, Gieder hosted an employee party the Arcata Theatre Lounge with live music and free food.

“He really does care about all of them, their family life and what’s happening at home,” Miksis said.

“You know that saying Kevin Bacon is six degrees of separation from everyone? I call Steve one degree,” Hamik said. Gieder’s fundamental businesses in Humboldt have enabled him to meet so many people here.

“Everyone knows Steve and Steve knows everyone for the most part,” Hamik explains. As a creative yielding local entrepreneur and cannabis advocate, Gieder began the consulting firm Humboldt Green.

Hamik describes Humboldt Green as one the most unusual businesses he’s ever worked for. “It’s a very difficult animal to describe to somebody,” Hamik said. It’s an event producing and community organization; a type of economic ecosystem trying to figure out how all the pieces fit together. Everywhere from cannabis infused yoga, Humboldt’s Om lead by Miksis to the Hummingbird Healing Center a dispensary reopening in McKinleyville lead by Hamik and Gieder.

Gieder has put together a highly qualified consulting team developing a new standard for cultivation which exceeds anything that exists right now. Humboldt Green looks after the environment, livable wages and makes sure people have good jobs. In a way it is like an incubator for people who don’t know what they want to do but leave with a more crystallized vision for themselves or their business.

With 11 years under its belt, Humboldt Green Week continues to bring people together for events that enrich the community. Thousands of dollars in donations continue to support local Non-Profit Organizations. The importance of education through art, music and gardening events is very important to Gieder and his crew.

Gieder stresses that Green Week gives people a moment to get away from daily distractions and enjoy doing good for the environment while having the chance to connect with the community they are helping build. Miksis explains that folks are riding this cannabis culture’s wave into mainstream living. Gieder wants everyone to come along and succeed rather than be on top.

“He genuinely cares,” she says.


Deadly chemicals found in “organic” products

By Stephanie McGeary
Flapjack staff

Shoppers are usually willing to pay the extra price for organic foods, assuming that they are lessening their exposure to harmful pesticides. But consumers may be paying in more ways than one. By trusting that their food is chemical-free, people may be risking their health by unknowingly ingesting potentially dangerous chemicals.  Even with the certified “USDA Organic” label, foods, including chia seeds can contain the dangerous herbicide paraquat.

Arcata resident and North Coast Food Co-op shopper, Karen Shepherd, always buys organic when possible. Shepherd, a 63-year-old child care provider, said that she doesn’t want to expose herself, or the children she takes care of, to pesticides. However, she does not necessarily believe that buying organic groceries is fool-proof.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all that there would still be some pesticides in organic food. That’s why I grow a lot of my food myself. I know I can trust it,” Shepherd said. “But I still think organic is better than the alternative.”

So, what exactly does “organic” mean? According to the USDA website, organic labeling indicates that the product has been produced through approved methods which “integrate cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation and genetic engineering may not be used.”

That all sounds pretty good. But there are a few exceptions to the USDA labeling standards that are not keeping labeled “organic” products in the clear. For one thing, to be labelled “organic” a product must only contain 95% organic ingredients. Only if a product is labelled as “100% Certified Organic” does it contain no non-organic products. Many consumers are unaware of this difference.

Another issue is that there are many synthetic pesticides allowed in organic crop production, according to the USDA standards. Whats even worse is that many dangerous synthetic substances, although not specifically allowed, can be acceptable if they are under the tolerances as set by the EPA.

Local chemist for North Coast Laboratories Bradley Thompson said that he believes certain chemicals, such as paraquat, aren’t being tested for at all. Some samples being brought to his lab, including water, soil and “organic” chia seeds, have been testing positive for the presence of paraquat.

“The frequency of paraquat has been increasing,” Thompson said. “Hits were rare and now it’s in every run. About two-thirds of my samples come up hot.”

One product that Thompson has tested in his laboratory is a popular brand of chia seeds, Nutiva. Stamped on the front of Nutiva’s bags is that trusted label “USDA Organic.” But in his testing, Thompson has been finding a presence of paraquat in the seeds.

Paraquat, or bipyridinium dichloride, is a toxic chemical which is often used as an herbicide to control weeds in farming. It is deadly to humans if ingested in large amounts and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure in small amounts can result in heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure and scarring of the lungs.

Thompson says he believes the chia manufacturers use paraquat to whither off the leaves of their plants in order to make the seeds easier to harvest.

“Of course, the manufacturers claim it doesn’t get in the seeds,” Thompson said. “They say they’ve got the studies to prove it. But obviously it’s not true.”

With all of these confusing standards and misleading labels, it can be difficult for a person who wants to eat organic to feel safe about what they are buying. In order to be sure about what you are getting, Thompson suggests buying local over simply buying organic.

“Go to the farmer’s market. Know your farmers,” said Thompson. “Or here’s a suggestion: grow your own food!”

HSU alumna brings cider culture to Humboldt

By Lauren Shea
Flapjack Staff

Michelle Cartledge, co-owner of Humboldt Cider Company, makes being a entrepreneur on the surface seem like a piece of cake even though it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Cartledge from Eureka, California leads the Sales and Marketing at Humboldt Cider Company in Eureka and The Local Cider Bar in Arcata.

“When we first started, people’s idea of cider was just Clendenen’s Cider Works in Fortuna, where it was just regular apple cider,” Cartledge said. “It was delicious, but not fermented. People now have an idea of what cider is and it’s nice to be able to introduce that to the community.”

Cartledge’s interest in cider began about 10 years ago, which sparked her interested to start a cider company. She noticed there was a small market for cider in Humboldt County. The sales of cider started to grow exponentially around the country at the time and she knew she wanted to get into that market.

“When you’re younger, people always ask you what you want to do when you grow up,” Cartledge said. “I get nervous because I had no idea. I thought to myself well I’m only 15, am I really supposed to know what I want to do?”

This got her thinking about her options she had. By time she was 16, she thought about going into business and opening a bar.

“I didn’t know what kind, but that was my mentality from then on out that I wanted to open a bar,” Cartledge said.

When looking at colleges she wanted to attend, she wanted to go to school out-of-state, but couldn’t because of the cost. Humboldt State University was popular option for her as it was still in California, but also providing the space away from small town Vista. She studied Business Administration with an emphasis in management.

“I wanted to graduate in four years,” Cartledge said. “ I was taking 19 units and working three jobs. I just wanted to get done with school as soon a possible.”

While she was at HSU, she made her way onto the beer scene tending bar at places like Redwood Curtain Brewing Company and The Local Beer Bar. Through work and friends, she met her husband, Darren Cartledge.

“We were friends at first for about two years before we started dating,” she said. “Neither of us wanted to get married. Then he decided he wanted to get married and proposed.”

The Local Beer Bar opened in March 2012. She worked as the manager and helped with the business side of the bar. Darren Cartledge, Michelle’s husband, have know each other since 2010. He talked about working with Michelle.

“Working with Michelle is awesome, we’ve been working together now for about six years,” Cartledge said. “She deals with the things I’m not good at. We compliment each other well. It’s fantastic for me because areas I’m not strong in, she’s strong in those areas. She puts alerts on my phone to remember and takes care of everything. She’s motivated, smart, pays attention to detail, very driven and focused.”

Cartledge graduated HSU in 2012. She wanted to open a cider bar in Arcata, but it didn’t work out at first. The idea came to them to start a Kickstarter to fund the Humboldt Cider Company Cider Garden.

I’m a very determined, hard working person,” Cartledge said. “If I set my mind to something it’ll happen. I’ve always has a business mindset. We were looking to start  Humboldt Cider Company originally in Arcata. Working with the city was difficult and they didn’t seem like they wanted to be apart of it. We felt like we got shut down before we even started. We then started looking at places in Eureka and someone mention Redwood Acres.”

Looking into Redwood Acres, it started to become easier in the process of starting the company. They came up with the idea to start a Kickstarter campaign to build the tasting room at the production facility on Redwood Acres. The campaign raised $37, 821 from 300 people in 45 days and opened up the tasting room in Feb. 2015.

Cela Wexler, bartender from Arcata, started working at The Local Beer Bar in January 2016. Since then, she has worked at the location on Redwood Acres, The Local Cider Bar in Arcata and will be working at Humboldt Cider Company Tap Room once it opens in Eureka. She talked about working for Cartledge’s company.

“I love working for the company,” Wexler said. “I love the industry. They allow employees have the freedom to be themselves. They put a lot of confidence in the people they hire. It’s really nice and encouraging. They make you feel appreciated and important.”  

This year, they decided to close The Local Beer Bar and turn it into Humboldt Cider Cider Company Tap Room. The location at Redwood Acres serves as the production facility and tasting room and because of this, it’s only open on the weekends. The new location on F St. will be open seven days a week and offers the option of buying bottled cider.

Cartledge has had the dedicated focus for following her dreams and being fast and efficient with the help of friends and the community. She has the ability to co-run two companies all while raising her daughter who she had just last year.

“Apparently we couldn’t help ourselves,” Cartledge said. “It’s fun, once the tasting room is open, we will be set for a little bit, but who knows. We are serial entrepreneurs.”

HSU’s Superbowl party features corn dogs

By Nicholas Vasquez
Flapjack staff

Humboldt State University throws a Super Bowl party in the bottom of Jolly Giant Commons (or the J) annually.  There was an abundance of free food and drinks supplied, with plenty of couch space to sit and enjoy the game.

The game was one for the books, and freshman business major Zachary McCormick was pleased with the outcome.

“I really enjoyed watching the game at the bottom of the J,” he said.  “The food was excellent, and the fact that the Patriots won just makes it even better.”

Other fans were not as pleased as McCormick with the Patriots overtime victory, as freshman kinesiology major Jaye Washington was distraught after the game.

“I am just very disappointed in the Falcons,” he said.  “But the taste of the free corn dogs down here definitely helps out with my sorrows right now.”

There was a great amount of corn dogs, and pretty much every soda that one could imagine.  They also provided ice water and iced tea as healthier options, and if these items were not satisfying enough, the Giant’s Cupboard was in the end of the room, so students could purchase snacks with their identification cards.

Freshman kinesiology major Parker Irusta was pleasantly surprised by the party.

“I was skeptical about a Super Bowl party ran by the school,” he said.  “But they did a really good job.  The food was great, and the Chub (Giant’s Cupboard) was right there so it was very convenient for me.  Overall it was a great environment to watch the game.”

This Super Bowl was historic, as it was the first in history to go into overtime.  The Patriots won by a score of 34-28, which capped off a 25-point comeback.

Hayfork raises funds for Roderick Senior Citizens Center

By Chris Ledman
Flapjack staff

On Saturday Feb. 4 love was in the air along with the smell of a scrumptious breakfast at the Roderick Senior Citizens Center Sweetheart Breakfast.

A record crowd was served a tasty breakfast at the center’s monthly fundraiser breakfast. In this time of uncertain funding, this fundraiser provides financial support for the services supplied by the center for seniors and all members of the Hayfork community.

Helen Stone, the executive director at the center, said a crowd of 81 showed up for breakfast bringing in over $700, an increase of $400 more than their usual monthly breakfast fundraiser. The breakfast consisted of eggs done your way, ham, sausage, bacon, hashed browns and a waffle or a blueberry pancake. Fresh coffee and orange juice were also available. Stone moved to Hayfork 10 years ago, and became the executive director of the center just last year.

A special added menu item was a sparkling wine. Lisa and Evan Barrows of Hayfork offered tastings of their Ginger carbonated wine as a special treat. Both Barrows are retired teachers who moved to Hayfork 13 years ago, and started this venture. Lisa Barrows said their wine, Curvy Roads Kegged Wine, is for sale at the Hayfork Family Dairy Store.

A fundraising breakfast is held on the first Saturday of every month from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. for a price of $8 and is open to everybody. Lunch is available, Monday through Friday at a cost of $8 for the under 60 crowd, and $5 for the 60 and over.  Take-out lunches are available and home delivery is available for those 60+ for an additional 25 cent delivery charge. Seniors can contact the center and have the van and van driver pick them up if they have a Doctor’s appointment or just have errands to run.

Trinity County’s newly elected supervisor, Bobbie Chadwick was in attendance.

“The Senior Center is a great place for everybody to socialize,” she said. “The center is in a great location, close to everything, right in the middle of town.”

Chadwick has been active in volunteer work in Hayfork since 1999.

For over 25 years Martha Beymer has been helping seniors understand the Medicare Program at the Center. Every Thursday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Beymer is available to help seniors sign-up for Medicare, explain the program and advocate for you if you are having problems.

Beymer said she was trained by the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program sponsored by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and said “I love working with the seniors in our community.”

Beymer is also the manager of the Roderick Thrift Store, located next door to the Center. The Thrift Store not only raises funds for the center but a great place to pick up everything from clothes to books at ridiculously low prices.  Beymer said that donations of any kind are welcome and please drop them off Tuesday – Friday from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. One of six volunteers there will be glad to provide you a receipt for your donation.

Other fun events at the center that are open to everyone is bingo held twice a month on the first and third Wednesday from 1:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. with Marathon bingo every other month on the fourth Saturday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., the next one to be held on Feb. 25.  Every Tuesday and Friday at 11 a.m. exercise classes are held.

One very important offering by the center is ground and air ambulance insurance.  If you or your family needs to be taken to the hospital by ambulance the cost is around $3,500 for ground and can be up to $7,500 by helicopter. The center has negotiated a policy with two firms that offer this coverage for $60 per household. Anyone in the Hayfork community can sign up for this policy, with or without a senior, under the center’s umbrella policy. This is needed protection for everyone in a rural community.

The Trinity County Economic and Demographic Profile 2014 reports that 61.7 percent of the 13,443 residents of Trinity County are age 40 or over and 20.1 percent are 65 or over. Both percentages are 10 percent higher than the California average. The 24/7 Wall St. financial news website has identified that Trinity County has the lowest household income in California.  These factors make fundraising difficult for the center with an increasing number of seniors who need services.

The center is a not for profit organization that depends on donations to keep providing services. They have some immediate needs of a new swamp cooler, sidewalk, security cameras and much more.  You can send check donations to PO Box 723, Hayfork, 96041. You can also drop off donations at the center from 10 a.m. -2 p.m. Monday through Friday, located at 90 Coral Ave. in Hayfork. If you have any questions, feel free to call the Center at 530-628-4692 or visit their Facebook Page at Roderick Senior Citizens Center.