Third generation Berkeley nursery owner planting seeds of change, hopes to cultivate cannabis

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- A longtime Berkeley family is hoping to revitalize their once bustling nursery with a new crop: cannabis.

Grandma Tomoko Yabusaki keeps the former nursery lot at Dwight Way and 10th Street in Berkeley clear of weeds, while her grandson, Masao, has a vision for its future.

He showed ABC7 his plans for the property. "And then we're going to have the cannabis retail on this end," he said, motioning with his hands.

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The budding entrepreneur is sowing the seeds for a cannabis-based nursery and retail space.. He wants to teach people how to responsibly grow their own marijuana plants.

"What our business model is going to be is just going to be off the seeds and the clones and the start of the plant and maybe even pollen," Masao Yabusaki explained.

Yabusaki's Dwight Way Nursery has been in the family since 1984.

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"I helped my father and mother way back when, starting at 6 or 7 years old, helping my dad as a gardener. It's in my blood," said Kenneth Yabusaki, Tomoko's son and Masao's father.

Cannabis was never in the cards until cancer took both Masao's grandfather and aunt.
"What really got us into it was the passing of some of our family members," Masao said.

The nursery closed in 2014 when Emi Yabusaki died. She and Kenneth ran the business their parents started. Now Masao's ready to grow it in a new direction.

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"We've come from a long family of gardeners and I'm excited that he's gotten the green thumb," Kenneth said of his son.

"We really want to have our nursery as a platform and educational platform if anything," Masao added.

There are plenty of zoning regulations and state and local laws that pose challenges. On Oct. 9, Berkeley City Council is expected to take up the issue, but the family isn't waiting to get everything ready. They've constructed trellises and planted shrubbery to hide the public view of cannabis cultivation and they will increase their security with 24/7 protection.

If he gets the necessary approvals, Masao hopes to open around the first of the year. It will be a traditional nursery on one half of the land, with cannabis on the other, and all of it organic.
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