Last Saturday, April 2nd, Villa de Merlo, a city in the Argentine province of San Luis, witnessed an event that featured learning, education, and the sharing of experiences related to cannabis. Sierra Cultiva, the first meeting of growers from the mountain area, allowed locals and visitors to enjoy a full afternoon of informative talks, exhibition stands displaying plant cultivation, cannabis cuisine, demonstrations of the extraction process for derived products, and live music at the wonderful tearoom “El Rincón de Virginia.” The star of the show was the cannabis flower, presented in different strains and stages of growth for everyone to appreciate. The plant was exhibited to give attendants a closer look into cannabis and educate them on cultivation and therapeutic use. At the event opening, Orlando Rodriguez, organiser and co-founder of Terracuyo, a local company that produces substrates made from post-harvest plant waste in the mountains, emphasised the importance of supporting cannabis ventures, as well as transforming and raising awareness of this kind of events as a space to broaden knowledge and learning, considering the benefits of cannabis for Argentina.
The venue chosen for this meeting was a traditional tea room surrounded by nature, a few kilometres away from the city centre. Fresh air and the feeling one gets walking around in a seemingly isolated environment tell us a lot about the quality of cannabis grown in this area. Villa de Merlo is blessed with one of the three most distinguished microclimates on Earth and stands as a solid competitor against some regions in California and the Canary Islands. These good climate conditions lead us to believe that cannabis will grow as well as pears, apples, peaches, figs, and citrus fruits that thrive on this soil. This was the idea conveyed at the presentation of Tomás Bulit Goñi, who goes by the nickname “Colibrí” (meaning hummingbird in Spanish) and is a founder of Sweetpacha, a company devoted to regenerative medical cultivation that follows specific guidelines to restore the native ecosystem and redress the balance of the soil damaged by overgrazing, agriculture, and the use of chemicals.
Information as a Tool for Social Change
Relevant players in this industry showed up at the event, including professionals from distinct areas such as: Juan Palomino, a cannabis legislation expert and founder of the law firm Estudio4veinte; Santiago Lusquiños, organiser of Expo Cáñamo San Luis; and, representing Madre Kaya, a cannabis business incubator, Lucas Garro and Andrés Robledo, who stressed the need of high-quality information, cannabis sample analysis for users, and a trustworthy process when producing derivatives. “Leaving business aside, there is a question of public health that calls for urgent answers. It is up to the government and us to build awareness. Not all illnesses can be treated using the same cannabis varieties, which is why we are here today, offering our knowledge to improve crossbreeding and introduce methods that allow the industry to provide a wider variety of products with a higher quality,” underlined Andrés.The event drew 300 attendants, who had 8 hours to enjoy the cannabis culinary wonders of the host and local chef María Virginia García, while Natalia Hilgen (dj Nat Hilgen), DJ Juampi and other artists provided live music to get the atmosphere on point. Credit must be given to the active involvement of the community at large and certain local public officials like the mayor of Villa de Merlo, Juan Alvarez Pinto; the Secretary for Environmental Management and Sustainable Development, Stella Maris Cuello; the Villa de Merlo Secretary for Tourism, Santiago Trobo; and Luis Macagno, Secretary of Tourism for the Province of San Luis. This event was also promoted by local businesses like Kief, Madre Kaya, Sweet Pacha, Coco loco, Cocos de autor and Silver River, apart from growers, enthusiasts, and specialised media companies such as El Planteo, and others with a national outreach like Vorterix. Next year, Sierra Cultiva is expected to bring a massive turnout and establish its position as a new space for social progress, abolishing the stigma, and promoting Villa de Merlo and the province of San Luis as national-scale cannabis tourism destinations.