India Amarina knows the importance of masks during a pandemic from experience.
Before she became president of Pacific Grown Impact, the nonprofit arm of Carpinteria cannabis company Pacific Grown Organics, Ms. Amarina was in high school in Taiwan during its H1N1 outbreak.
“We were in class every day, but this is a lot more precautions being taken. Obviously now we’re in a digital world, so it’s a lot easier to track these things and engage with social distancing. It wasn’t a reality when we had H1N1, but the masks were everywhere. Every student had them, every person had them,” said Ms. Amarina.
“I’m well versed with having boxes and boxes and stocks of N95 masks.”
When news of COVID-19 began to hit U.S. media, Ms. Amarina and Collin Dvorak, her husband and CEO of Pacific Grown Organics, put in an order for N95 masks so their company would be prepared for an outbreak in the States.
The masks were delayed for months and only just arrived two weeks ago, but in that time Pacific Grown Organics was able to implement sufficient social distancing at its workplace and realized it would be best to give the masks to someone who could really use them.
“We’ve been quite lucky because we’re not running as a large scale cultivation farm yet. We only have a skeleton set of staff, and they are all wonderfully flexible in managing switching around their shifts so they aren’t at the same time as somebody else. We’ve not had any problems thankfully. It’s not a problem for us and my heart goes out to these businesses who can’t implement social distancing while still functioning,” said Ms. Amarina.
Last week, Pacific Grown Impact donated all 500 of its N95 masks to VNA Health of Santa Barbara, ensuring that healthcare and hospice workers at the nonprofit will have proper Personal Protective Equipment.
The move fits into Pacific Grown Impacts core mission to tie philanthropy with the blossoming cannabis industry in Santa Barbara County.
“We essentially want to develop a workforce with long term investment in our local area in Carpinteria. Just making sure that cannabis is really set up with the right foot forward as we move into this new industry,” said Ms. Amarina.
During the pandemic, Pacific Grown Impact has looked for other ways to support its workforce and the Carpinteria community, like its new community garden it is developing adjacent to its farm.
During the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of families of Pacific Grown Organics workers are maintaining isolation with children at home, and Pacific Grown Impact has developed the community garden as a way to support them through the pandemic.
“We have a neighboring property to our farm, which is uncultivated flat land, so we actually have been able to offer their children a scholarship to help build out a community garden and understand some of those scaled agricultural skills. That way they can come in in family lots and remain in isolation and we can maintain social distancing orders while still being able to give our families a full wage and support them getting through these tricky times,” said Ms. Amarina.
Although there are no COVID-19 specific plans in the works for Pacific Grown Impact, Ms. Amarina said the nonprofit will continue to look for ways to support the community as Pacific Grown Organics finishes construction on its farm and greenhouse and secures the relevant permits.
“We’re hoping to be at the forefront of the cannabis industry and be a poster child for what a greenhouse farm in Carpinteria should be,” said Ms. Amarina.