Having grown up in California’s Calaveras County, the younger sibling of the Emerald Triangle (a.k.a. Cannabis County), Michael Ray always had pot as a part of his life. He learned how to grow the plant at a young age, but his future was really put in motion in 2009, when the Golden State began to shift toward selling medical cannabis and Ray started Bloom Farms.
Calaveras is a poor county; Ray had discovered that one in six families there suffer from hunger, which he thought was unacceptable. Inspired by the efforts of larger companies, Ray decided to make Bloom Farms a one-for-one business, meaning that for every cannabis purchase, Bloom Farms donates a meal to someone in need. “I told myself I would try to make a dent in that problem,” Ray says. “When I started Bloom Farms, I made it our core mission to fight food insecurity.”
Starting with the San Francisco Marin Food Bank in 2015, Bloom Farms began to receive recognition and offers to join more partnerships, eventually making relationships with nine food banks, including the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, the Alameda County Community Food Bank, the SF Marin Food Bank, World Harvest, Merced County Food Bank, the Redwood Empire Food Bank, the San Diego Food Bank and the Second Harvest Food Bank. Through such affiliations throughout Southern California and Nevada, the company has provided nearly 2 million meals through THC and CBD product sales.
Everything the Bay Area-based business sells is 100 percent natural and includes flowers, wax cartridges and CBD products. One of the company’s top sellers is the hemp CBD tincture that came out in January. Its oil products do not contain petroleum-based solvents, and it uses FDA-grade, BPA-free vape products. Every product is also lab-tested for potency and to provide the highest quality.
Ray, who is Bloom Farms’ CEO, says his goal to bring a safe and delightful experience to all who use the company’s products and that he hopes to provide a good life view through cannabis. Bloom Farms also supports local farmers in sourcing products. “We believe very much that a part of the foundation of the company is also to support local agriculture and support the small farmers, so we work with farmers all over the state,” Ray says. “We support the ecosystem, which is made up of thousands of farmers.”
Ray also hosts demo days to answer all cannabis-related questions. The aim is to promote a healthy mind, body and soul through yoga and other wellness and fitness practices. Outreach extends into the kitchen, as Bloom Farms staff host “Bloom Appetite” events in the Bay Area and Los Angeles County at which guests can taste cannabis-infused food dishes.
Bloom Farms is among the cannabis companies seeking through its actions to remove the negative stigma that surrounds the industry. “There’s lots of education that needs to happen because consumers are learning as they go,” Ray says. “With adult-use cannabis in California, we have a lot of new consumers who are using cannabis again for the first time in years, and the industry has changed.”
Ray is also looking to help more in Orange County. “We are looking and talking to people,” he says. “We are pretty methodical about how we pick up and work with our food bank partners, and Orange County would be an area we would love to work with.”
Locally, Bloom Farms products are sold at six locations in Santa Ana and Costa Mesa. And though you can find more throughout Southern California and Nevada, Ray dreams of one day taking his business even farther.
“We have major plans for the future,” he says. “I would love to see Bloom Farms products sold nationwide, as well as internationally.”
For more information on Bloom Farms, visit getbloomfarms.com.