High Desert Nectar: The Origin Story

When I moved to Bend my eyes opened up to the world of supporting local food purveyors and farmers. Raised in Florida, we shopped at Costco and prided ourselves in purchasing organic food and meat, but didn't realize the significance of supporting local farms. The more I engaged with the local Central Oregon farming community and started researching the depths of nutrition and holistic health as a whole, the more I realized the most nutrient-dense food is available from the region in which we live (and better yet, from the gardens of our own homes). I was immediately enamored by this knowledge quest. I religiously frequented the farmers’ markets with the intention of learning more about the farms and building relationships with the humans that grew my food by having candid conversations with them weekly. I signed up for monthly farm-to-table dinners and never hesitated to reach out via social media. I became so curious about local farming practices, soil, values, and community integration. Personally knowing the faces behind the operations, as well as their stories, ethics, and passions inspired, us to integrate similar ethos within my own company.  

Building healthy soil is imperative to the quality of food, so let’s work with the earth, not against it. The quality of food: taste, vitality, size, and nutrient density starts with the quality of the soil. As the seedling grows, nutrients are uniquely vital to the duration of the growth process. The contents of the soil and the nutrients provided throughout directly relates to the make-up of the vegetable. This is when it all clicked. It’s so obvious. We tend to be shockingly disconnected from our source, soil, and farmers that we neglect to do research about our food systems. Guess what--all of this translates directly to hemp farming as well. 

Hemp is a phytoremediator which means it is a type of plant that extracts nutrients from the soil and groundwater. With that knowledge, what’s so important? Soil. Water. Nutrients. And how do we incorporate this knowledge into our practices? We’ve partnered with Tumalo Co, a local Central Oregon company that brews organic nutrients derived from food waste leftover at local markets. No synthetic nutrients, no corporate nonsense. (provide details on nutrients, drive phytoremediator point home. more x nutrient, yields more x result)

Just as I believe in supporting the local food system for the community, the earth, and my own personal health, we have designed High Desert Nectar based on the same ethos. After all, hemp is plant medicine. Our vision is to introduce a  single-origin plant medicine to our community brought to you by the earth and High Desert Nectar.   

Our journey to growing hemp in Central Oregon started with two catalysts—1., I broke my back in Thailand and 2., I started trimming cannabis in Southern Oregon shortly thereafter. Although my accident was a tragedy, it was ultimately a remarkable awakening for me and our entire family. I returned to the states after a traumatic motor bike accident and an intense spinal reconstruction surgery just south of Bangkok. With a long road ahead, I made a promise to myself that I would not turn to pain-killers or anti-depressants as I navigated my physical and emotional recovery. It was not prescription drugs that “saved me,” it was cannabis, yep, plant medicine. Gummies eased my dark thoughts; smoking flower encouraged a full-night's slumber and salves alleviated the minor aches and pains plaguing my mangled body. After recovering at my folks’ house for half a year, I was restless. A close friend of mine suggested I join her to trim cannabis in Southern Oregon. I did and I fell in love with Oregon, the medicine, and called home to Florida frequently with many stories. My folks love an adventure and they soon planned an Oregon road trip. We shared stories and dreams, and everything seemed to line up—in Oregon. 

My entire life, I witnessed my dad successfully owning and operating his business. He has always been a model of dedication and commitment. When the opportunity to partner with him appeared, I was incredibly nervous but equally overjoyed. It was a new adventure for both of us—the task itself, the learning curve, and the newfound relationship. I was excited to learn how to develop the property, walk into his world of construction and welcome him to my life in Oregon. The transition from being a daughter to a business partner/roommate has not been peaches and cream, but we've worked through the hard conversations and our synergy continues to improve each day. It’s love and harmony in its own light. We have defined our roles and lanes. I’ve respected his perspectives and become eager to learn his ways. He has allowed me to flourish in my strengths. We understand each other’s passions and are constantly excited to bounce thoughts and ideas off of each other especially with a joint in hand. 

Ever since he moved to Bend, he and I enjoy cannabis (hemp and marijuana) together frequently. Our open relationship with cannabis was not always this way, but luckily now he and mom my both see cannabis in a positive light. I consider this plant to be a grounding element of our relationship. Cannabis brings out the child in both of us allowing for plenty of giggles and introspective thoughts. We are constantly smoking our own hemp flower as well as rolling joints with other badass female-owned businesses in the industry. It’s market research and quality control at its finest! 

My father is incredibly systematic, process-oriented and dedicated to a project from soup to nuts. It’s the General Contractor in him that is fueled by starting something from nothing and finishing it with care and attention to detail. He contemplates all the different possibilities and outcomes before making a final decision. He truly considers the intricacies before pulling the trigger. His attentiveness is inspiring as is his desire to complete tasks properly with high integrity and without cutting corners.

And me. I’ve realized how important it is to have clear headspace to be able to process the project at hand. I am reinvigorated when I step away from work. In order to thrive, I need daily movement, adventure and mediation in my routine to stay sane and persevere. Balance is key to my dedication and overall well being. Additionally, positive energy is critical-- I thrive in uplifting environments and communicative spaces where the intentions are to empower one another, inspire and promote productivity. All that juicy nectar that is needed in business just like the yin and yang.

As we light up this upcoming season, we will continue to be stewards to our land, partners, and loyal customers. Our dedication to growing boutique, premium flower remains the same. We will be launching our new line of products early summer. My father and I will be building a home on the farm and fervently convincing our remaining family in Florida to move to Bend. We have big dreams on the horizon.

Danielle Caruso, Co-Founder, High Desert Nectar

photographer: James Jackman