Jeffrey Hickey had a colorful career as an author, storyteller, and educator before “living the life of the retired dope farmer.” As we prepare to launch our newest course, Home Grow, we caught up with him to talk about his cannabis journey, and why he was compelled to help write the Home Grow curriculum.
Journey to the Plant
Jeffrey first realized the healing power of cannabis while recovering from prostate cancer surgery. A delivery of CBDoos was the only thing that relieved his pain from crippling bladder spasms.
Later, when his wife became “catastrophically ill” from an autoimmune disease, he turned to the plant once more.
“When the person you love most in the world is suffering, it’s brutally hard,” he says.
Flower and FECO proved to help Karen’s condition but soon became cost-prohibitive. The couple hatched a plan. Jeffrey would learn to grow cannabis and Karen would study how to extract the precious cannabinoids from the flower to make the medicine she needed.
Jeffrey enrolled in Oaksterdam University’s horticulture program to get started.
“I was a very good gardener and I knew how to grow tomatoes and other vegetables very well. I thought ‘how tough can this be?’” he recalls.
He planted clones outside on his property in Northern California and grew seven pounds of cannabis that first year. As his skills increased, so did his yields. By his fourth growing season, he harvested 17 pounds.
“That was the year I completely broke through,” he says.
Meanwhile, Karen set up a home extraction lab to process the flower into FECO with good results.
Creating the Class
Jeffrey’s passion for farming and writing merged when Oaksterdam’s then Dean of Faculty Natalie Darves asked him to do a blog about his experience as a DIY outdoor grower.
“It was like firing up a jet engine,” Jeffrey says.
He submitted four blogs the very next day and hasn’t stopped writing about his cannabis journey since. Jeffrey’s 2020 Isolation Grow blogs chronicled his entire growing season and planted the seed for the development of Oaksterdam’s new Home Grow course, co-authored by Jeffrey, Natalie, and Oaksterdam Business & Operations Faculty Member Tara Bonhorst.
Unlike Oaksterdam’s Horticulture Certification Courses, which focus on commercial growing, Home Grow is geared toward the do-it-yourselfer.
Whether you are cultivating cannabis in a small tent or big backyard, the class covers how to choose your growing medium, fight pests and pathogens, care for your plants, and even extract FECO at home, along with much more.
“It’s the class I wish I had when I found out Karen was sick,” Jeffrey explains. “I tell them exactly what to do. I reveal all the secrets. I share the good, bad, ugly, happy, and magical.”
The course became a family project, with videos by Jeffrey’s wife, Karen Kiser, formerly a professional animator/filmmaker with PIXAR, and photos by Bee Hickey, one of the couple’s grown twins. Bee also does all the plant training, which is documented through the curriculum.
“I’m so grateful that Oaksterdam allowed me the privilege to write about this and give people the help and the hope I was lacking when I was in need,” Jeffrey says.
For More Information
To learn more or enroll in our new Home Grow Course, click here.
To read Jeffrey Hickey’s 2020 Isolation Grow blog, click here.
To read Jeffrey Hickey’s Introduction to Home Grow, click here.