It’s been 12 years since I first came to the Rogue Valley. My dear friend John has a sprawling property one town over, in Shady Cove, that sits on the Rogue River. Our children were the same ages and in the same classes in Los Angeles and he invited us to join him for the weekend. We began to visit twice a year, in the spring and in the fall, as our families gathered around many activities.
I still recall that shocking and shivering moment as I first I took a deep dive into the waters of the Rogue River. When I emerged, I felt as though I had been baptized. I saw the light! The river spirits had cleansed me and I immediately began the journey to find what this magnificent river had to offer.
My friend’s caretaker, Dennis, showed me many properties along the banks of the river before he finally suggested, “There’s one other property you might either love or hate.” It was 13 acres on the Rogue River with 1,800 feet of riverfront. At one time it was an old, run-down Elks Lodge picnic grounds. There was a stage there, which really peaked my heart. There was also a huge outdoor barbecue pit with a kitchen, many little outbuildings, a 1950s porcelain trough urinal in the mens room (reminded me of old Wrigley Field in Chicago, that was awesome), and 25 picnic tables constructed by Eagle Point High School in 1996, with small plaques nailed to each, commemorating the exchange between the Elks Lodge and the students.
I started by tearing all the brush and brier down. We re-roofed, repainted and refurbished all of the outbuildings and barbecues. We revitalized the stage with reclaimed wood, new lights and a sound system. Then, the real vision began.
There was no house on this new land, so we set out designing and building one 75 feet from the river’s edge. This construction project can be seen on DIY Network as a show called Building Belushi.
It’s pretty cool! Six episodes capture the stunning details of the remarkable reclaimed woods used in timber framing, which is mortise and tenon construction—no nails involved, just old time craftsmanship. Re-purposed wood beams that adorn the living room and kitchen were taken from an 1868 cotton gin in North Carolina. Rusted and corrugated metal roofs were, at one time, used to cap old barns from Missouri, Washington State, and Oregon herself.
As the list goes on, another piece of sudden magic appeared. There was a totem poll and a sweat lodge built for me by the Indigenous Americans (who I might add, would not accept payment), to honor the spirit of the Takelma people who lived there before me. The name Takelma means, “Those along the river.” I hold sweat lodge ceremonies here which whip Mother Earth, Father Sun, Water Spirit, and Fire Spirit around our bodies to detoxify us from impurities torturous to carry in one’s heart.
I walked out of the sweat lodge one day dripping wet, drained, and in my own soul, I looked up to the sky and said to Dennis (who had worked the fire), “Look at the eagle!” Dennis replied,
“Jim, why do you think they call it Eagle Point?”
Dennis told me profound healing happens here, and the Bald Eagles use the land to breed, filling the big Oregon sky with several generations of local fauna. I will forever be grateful for the gift these great men built for me and we thank them in each and every ceremony.
Directly behind us lived an 80-acre farm run by Charlie and Becca. I fell in love with my neighbors, especially Becca, and we became very close. She had been raised on that land with her three uncles of German descent who worked the farm tirelessly with their bare hands. They collected windows, boarding and entire walls from an army compound in White City, Oregon, to create the charming outbuildings.
Becca and Charlie had a beautiful, sweet little compound with a stoically aged old barn that housed a 1948 John Deere tractor, old farming implements, and a very old gas pump that now resides in a museum. They raised cattle while farming alfalfa and hay.
Becca had moved to Alaska with her husband Charlie for 15 years before returning when her uncles became very elderly, sickly and stricken with Alzheimer’s. They passed on, one by one, as Becca cared for them, bathed them, and loved them. They eventually left her the farm.
It broke my heart when Becca became ill and we sat beside her bed as she slowly faded into the light. Before she passed, she wanted me to have the property and with a smile in my heart, I purchased the land and renamed the old road Becca’s Way.
I love this farm like I love Becca. In the winter, a neighbor down the street brings 40 to 45 pregnant cows to graze on the property and deliver their sweet calves on this sacred land. This thrilling sight is only part of the spiritual events this property provides. I am so incredibly grateful to Becca for passing this beautiful, charming and spiritual land on to me and to my family.
Well what do I do with 93 acres? What do I grow?
Every year, I still have the Ashland Elks Lodge enjoy their picnic. The Cattlemen's Association has their annual event here. There’ll be a couple local weddings and there’s always a few memorial services for local members of the community. We recently honored one of the men who built the sweat lodge. I grant them permission freely.
And, of course, I get to rock out on stage every once in a while with a bunch of friends during our annual harvest party in the fall, where we welcome bud tenders, dispensary owners and other members of the Oregon cannabis community. All of this positive activity generates great joy. Magic happens when you bring families together with the river and the Spirit of this Land.
I believe so deeply in the spirit and medicine cannabis offers in healing our families, communities and world, that I decided to let the Spirit of the Land and the Water Spirit of the Rogue River irrigate and grow this powerful cannabis medicine.
Belushi’s Farm was created as a gateway to healing.
Every time I cultivate the land, I get pulled more and more into the medicine and the joy of this work. We sun-grow all natural and rigorously tested cannabis. Everyone on this farm has a beautiful way about them because of their intimate work with this plant. It has changed me as a man.
This land, this river and its cannabis ground me and have opened my heart to even more compassion and empathy to people struggling in this world. Whether it’s an opiate addict, a veteran with PTSD, a grandmother who is suffering from cancer, nine to fivers who suffer from headaches, sleepless nights, anxiety or pain, or a mother and a father who traumatically suffer through their child’s seizures, one after another.
This place is a guardian for the wellness of the plant. A wellness that enhances creativity, the taste of food, the richness of music, and the touch of your lover’s skin. It brings joy, euphoria, releases endorphins, laughter, and brings peace to relationships.
These are all elements of wellness and well being that this plant possesses and I am overwhelmed with gratitude to have been led to the Rogue River and be a part this agricultural and healing circle of life.