Cannabis grower rebuilds after devastating Nuns Fire

GLEN ELLEN, Calif. (KGO) -- The Nuns Fire started in the early evening on Oct. 8, tearing through Glen Ellen. This isn't just wine country, it's also home to a growing number of cannabis farms. A year later, they too are still rebuilding.

One year ago, Erich Pearson woke up to a firestorm. Flames tore through Glen Ellen in Sonoma County. It reduced homes to ashes, and turned farms into wastelands. Pearson had just harvested his cannabis crop. It was completely destroyed.

Now, things look much different.

BEFORE & AFTER: North Bay pot farm presses forward after devastating fire

"Back on track," said Pearson, "We're back at it. We've spent quite a bit of time since last October putting things back together."

Time and money.

Millions of dollars in premium pot went up in smoke when the farm burned to the ground. It destroyed all the plants, and most of the processing facilities.

In April, Pearson showed us around what was left after the fire roared through.

BEFORE & AFTER: DRONEVIEW7 shows North Bay Fires devastation, recovery

"This barn went twice as far," said Pearson "All the way down to that hay and then there was a whole 'nother barn over here the same size."

Pearson isn't new to the cannabis industry, he's founder of SPARC, a cannabis company that has provided safely grown cannabis for medical patients since 1998.

They operate four dispensaries in the Bay Area. Patients who use their products depend on its high quality to relieve their pain.

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This is the first year the farm is growing under legal recreational cannabis rules.

Navigating the new regulations was hard enough, but the fire made it even more complicated.

"You know it's not easy, but I don't think that anybody signs up for this industry thinks it is going to be very easy, but yeah it's been sort of a double whammy - it's been a bit of a challenge," said Pearson.

Many of plants he spent decades carefully cross-breeding were destroyed. Meaning they had to start from scratch with seeds from other cannabis farms.

"A lot of the seeds were donated which was really kind of the organizations that did that for us," said Pearson.

Now, the foundation is being laid for the new facility, and the first harvest since the fire is now underway.

From DRONEVIEW7 you can now see green where the earth was scorched black.

Pearson says the big, beautiful buds are flourishing, and this year's harvest is looking good, despite growing in the shadows of last year's blaze.

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He has big plans for this comeback.

"We want to have public access to this farm, we want to have educational tours, we want folks to come here and purchase cannabis one day, much like a winery, so this is a long term plan," said Pearson.

Pearson says that long-term plan will take time and patience both of which he says he's willing to put in he's working with the county to navigate through the maze of permits he still needs.

All taking root among the ashes of a conflagration.

Go here for full coverage on the North Bay fires.
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