Co-founders of the cannabis brand Swami’s choiceNikki Lastretto and Swami Chaitanya, they spent many years on a spiritual path that included residing in India, visiting temples frequently, and conversing with holy men. When their trip brought them back to California, they created a sanctuary with a unique spiritual approach to cannabis cultivation. With Swami Select, they take pride in their embrace Renewable Agriculture Cannabis is praised as a way to uplift the senses and connect with others, as well as the world around them. Lastreto and Chaitanya took time to chat with them High Times About the events that led to the origin of their brand, their unique approach to cannabis cultivation, and how the herb brings people together.
Many age of Nikki and Swami
Lastreto and Chaitanya are two travelers around the world whose spiritual experiences shaped their cannabis venture. Lastreto describes herself as a flower child who grew up in San Francisco. She first met Chaitanya, a “27-year-old hippie artist” when she was 14. They later hooked up again at a party in San Francisco and married in 1985. L’astretto worked for San Francisco Chronicle For many years in the 1980s, Chaitanya was an artist and photographer. Together they traveled to different countries, including China and Thailand, and for some time lived in southern India in a house overlooking the Arabian Sea.
In the end, Lastreto and Chaitanya divorced. Citing her desire to embark on a new goal and path, Lastreto returned to the United States and embraced her love of hosting parties and creating giant altars featuring statues from different religious traditions. At the time, I worked with Tim Blake, founder of Emerald CupTo develop and coordinate various events. During this time, explains Lastretto, “Swami became Swami,” while he remained in India and took a religious initiative at the Kumbh Mela, the major pilgrimages and festivals in Hinduism, in 1998. Chaitanya lived in the Himalayas for a few years and continued to travel around the region to visit temples. During this time, he and Lastreto remained good friends, and Lastreto traveled to India to meet him and visit one of their spiritual teachers. When Lastreto expressed his desire to build a temple to the Hindu goddess Sri Mookambika in the United States, their spiritual guru suggested that Chaitanya help, leading them on a trip to the province of Mendocino.
honor the earth
The idea behind Swami Select came from a vision Chaitanya had at a rainbow pool in the 1970s.
“I had a vision of a beautiful royal lot with a mountain in the distance and some trees in the middle and an open field and some trees behind me, and a message that I would spend the end of my life there,” he said. .
Thirty years later, he and Lastretto buy a property in Mendocino County that is similar to seeing Chaitanya. When they bought the land, they decided to marry again – this time, with the goal of saving money from taxes. In 2017, with the arrival of The fiftieth anniversary of the summer of love in 1967 In San Francisco, Lastreto and Chaitanya married for the third time in a more private spiritual ceremony on their land.
Initially, the house had no electricity or running water – it was just an old two-room cabin. It took many years to develop the property into the thriving spiritual landscape it is today. In addition to the lawn, the farm has a thoughtful design and many religious statues. For example, upon entering their property, there is a gigantic 1,500-pound stone statue Ganeshathe Hindu deity with the head of an elephant, to greet visitors.
Even before Lastreto and Chaitanya chose to grow cannabis, they wanted to make sure they treated the drug with respect.
“We tried [develop] In a really conscious way, you know, it honors the land because we really see ourselves as stewards of this wonderful piece of land,” said Lastretto. “We don’t own it, just as the natives didn’t, but it is our duty in this lifetime to take care of it.”
This mindset led to the adoption of regenerative agriculture on their farm to maintain harmony with nature. Regenerative agriculture describes agricultural practices that reduce the effects of climate change by using technologies that revitalize the soil and the environment. Swami Select believes that a regenerative approach to cannabis cultivation produces some of the best floral quality.
“People, if you want to smoke something that will nourish your body, nourish your mind, and nourish your soul, [regeneratively grown cannabis] Lastretto said. “I know this sounds like a marketing ploy, but it’s true. It comes from my heart.”
Growing with Spiritual Intentions
With Swami Select, Lastreto takes care of the business side of things, while Chaitanya focuses on growing and farming. Together, they frequently visit dispensaries in the San Francisco Bay Area that carry their products for neonatal training and meet clients face to face.
Their approach to how hemp is grown is unique. The garden at Swami Select is designed in the shape of a sacred geometric pattern called Sri Yantra. The idea is that creating a garden like this supercharges the cannabis plants that grow inside. Growth also includes other rituals.
“When we decide what seeds to plant each year, we have a statue of the goddess Ganga Ma, the goddess of cannabiswhich was revealed to us by our spiritual teachers,” said Chaitanya. “In her lap, we place this seed, and then we say a special spell to the seed.”
In addition to invoking the goodwill of Ganja Ma, Chaitanya also adds a few drops of water from India’s sacred Ganges River to each seedling.
“The seeds sit in front of the lawn mower for about a month before we plant them,” Chaitanya said. “This costs them in a very special way. After they crack and begin to sprout, we put them in a small plant pot with some soil in them and then put another drop of sacred Ganges water on them. All this to create a spiritual foundation for the healing and inspiration that the cannabis plant provides to the people who use it or celebrate its use.” .
They have a few Ganga Ma statues on the property. One is indoors (where the seeds sit), another placed outdoors during the growing season, and an additional figurine they take with them when visiting the various dispensaries for in-store displays.
“We always put it on and show people who it is. So you know, it really gives cannabis that awareness,” Lastretto said.
Swami Select believes that cannabis can help consumers tap into their spirituality.
“[With cannabis]“Not only is your heart open, but your mind is open,” Chaitanya said. “One of the things that cannabis does is it removes a lot of your filters, which blocks a lot of your sensory input… All of your different sense organs are heightened and further refined. That’s why when you smoke cannabis, your food tastes better, and you listen to music better. Better, and your creative talents are more free and free.
“Cannabis removes a lot of the limitations and the limitations and the ambiguities that society places on you. When you open up to that, all of a sudden, you not only get the five senses, but your sixth sense starts to open up and your intuition and those sensual feelings about what magic is in the world and how you deal with it and how the energy flows” .
Sense of belonging to the community
While Lastreto and Chaitanya were developing their residences, they also spent years establishing local organizations such as Mendocino Cannabis Industry Association and network with other industry farmers. Chaitanya is the founder and board member of Asset Board, a statewide organization of cannabis growers that aims to preserve California’s historic cannabis regions. Lastreto working on reset Hemp farms markets in the region. Together they contribute to A close-knit community sustaining a growing history and dedication to the cannabis industry In the emerald trianglewhich is the hotspot for cannabis cultivation in Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties.
“This is a passion for all of us and a lifestyle,” Lastretto said. “We know that we are really helping others by doing this. And it has just been created, as I keep saying, this amazing community.”
Lastreto and Chaitanya were judges in Emerald Cup For 18 years (you may have seen them at the recent Emerald Cup Awards in Hollywood, California on May 14). Their work with the Emerald Cup has also been a source of the community’s passion for cannabis.
“When we come together in the Emerald Cup, there is a great celebration and respect for everyone’s differences,” Chaitanya said. “That’s one of the great things about cannabis. You appreciate and honor the differences between people because we also respect the differences between the different types of cannabis, the different ways of smoking, the different ways you can use tinctures and ointments. It’s all about that diversity. And there’s no one way to do it. There’s no one way.” Not a single group.
Marijuana is an incredibly versatile plant that can help people in many ways. Swami Select believes that cannabis can be a powerful tool for cultivating wellness.