Photo by Matt Guilhem/KCRW.
The Coachella Valley town of Desert Hot Springs has been on the map for generations as a wellness destination. The mineral waters underneath the town are famous for their curative properties.
While it’s been known as “the spa city” for its dozens of resorts, it’s looking to expand its portfolio. Marijuana is growing in fenced off, unmarked industrial buildings southwest of downtown in what until recently was wide open space.
Inside the grow operation at Desert Underground, the hum of fans is a constant in the 40 climate-controlled rooms used to cultivate strains of weed with names like “cereal milk,” “apple fritter,” and “banana split.”
Ethan Woods is Desert Underground’s CEO, and he sees a future where this unremarkable patch of desert becomes a destination.
“You know I see it potentially evolving as like a Napa or Sonoma Valley if everything comes together at the same time,” says Woods.
Taking in a grow room full of pot plants is a little more difficult than wandering through a sun-drenched field of grape vines. Before stepping in, you have to put on scrubs, cover your shoes with booties, and be sprayed down with alcohol. It’s less a greenhouse than a NASA operation.
“Every single piece of data from this room gets tracked,” Woods says as he surveys hundreds of pot plants. “We do temps, we do humidities, the number of gallons, the pot size, the electrical conductivity of the coco. We’re looking at each different bad bug and each different good bug, bacteria, and fungi that goes in.”
Bathed in special, far-red spectrum light as he makes his way through the room,Woods says his business is part of the green rush set off when California voters decriminalized cannabis.
Published: March 24, 2021
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News