Anyone who’s ever tried to make a bong out from an apple, pineapple, watermelon, or any readily available fresh produce would have been highly inspired by a DIY bong-making contest at this weekend’s Northern Nights festival. As a companion to the event’s historic, outdoor cannabis sales and consumption lounge, festival attendees were treated to the Flow Kana Farm to Bong contest where fresh veggies and fruits could be carved, whittled, and crafted into the finest and/or silliest organic water pipe units. Let’s take a look at some of the fruit and vegetable bongs that won their creators distinctions for Best Functionality, Color Combination, Flavor Profile, or Best Overall Design.
Several cartons of carrots, peppers, potatoes, cabbage, watermelon, garlic, and all manner of other produce were provided as “raw materials” for competitors’ hand-crafted bong wizardry. Sponsor Flow Kana put out a fleet of picnic tables plus carving tools, carving gloves, and a “Fresh bongs daily” cooler kept these beauties crisp.
Flow Kana is a distributor of sun-grown cannabis from local farmers in Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity counties, and they funnel packaging and distribution resources to help smaller farmers compete with big factory farms operations. Their whimsical bong contests do emphasize the important point that cannabis should be grown alongside fruits, vegetables, and other crops to benefit the soil and the environment.
But the Farm to Bong contest really got people’s creative juices flowing. “People carve the skin of the watermelon on different levels, or they seal the bowl with banana so it hits better,” says Flow Kana director of events Zachary Carson.
“The weed industry is getting so serious,” Carson tells SF Weekly. “But it comes from a culture of play, community, and entertainment. Festivals allow us to place to be creative. It combines all the things of the diversity of crops, cannabis, and vegetables from our farms, the ability to create with community and have fun, and the opportunity to bring cannabis to the mainstream in a safe way.”
Flow Kana has taken this funny stunt to a few previous festivals. “At Outside Lands, someone took a mini-watermelon and used two zucchinis as bunny ears, so two people could hit it at once,” he says. “They they made a bunny rabbit face out of a bunch of different vegetables and stuck a joint in its mouth.”
Here we see Sunday’s grand prize winner, a giant squash bong festooned with the Northern Nights logo, carrot bowls and pull-pipes, and decorative peppers and sunflowers. Winner Caroline Rehberger is a farmer with the New Agrarian Collective in Willits, CA, who supply food for the Flow Kana Community Supported Agriculture program, and sell through the Mendo Lake Food Hub.
“Festivals are about expression and creativity, “ says Carson. “When you can sit down and have a moment in whatever mindset you are to share and dive into an art project, those opportunities don’t happen. When you combine it with getting high and your friends, people go an extra length to do some really special things.”