It takes discipline, dedication, empathy and patience to be a nun. But for Sister Kate, whose real name is Christine Meeusen, 56, and Sister Darcy Johnson, 24, it also takes an almighty good knowledge of marijuana horticulture.
The two, who go by the name Sisters of the Valley, consider themselves nuns but are not Catholic or traditionally religious – cultivate weed according to the moon cycles before turning their harvest into remedies which they then sell online. Their products, which are all organic, treat a variety of ailments including back pain, migraines and even hangovers, and each jar and bottle gets its own little prayer before being shipped for distribution.
Their story came to the limelight after it emerged that California municipalities are considering a cultivation ban that would make their enterprise illegal.
So as to fight the ban, the two posed for a series of powerful photos documenting their day-to-day work.
Sister Kate and Sister Darcy, who live in Merced have given photographers Shaughn Crawford and John DuBois a candid look at their controversial business, which involves cultivating week for remedies they sell online.
The images snapped by the photographers show the nuns crouched among marijuana plants, burning rolled up sets of leaves in front of them.
Others show the sisters their wares while relaxing at home. Since launching their business last year, the pair has been selling their products online as well as from their own website.
“We thought it the best place to feature our home-made and hand-made goods. But not long ago, they were bought by eBay,” the pair wrote on a new GoFundMe page earlier this week.
“And yesterday, after nine months of no issues, they rudely took all our items off our shelf, alleging we make health claims”.
With bills piling up and their income being suddenly hindered, they are hoping for public help to keep their heads above water.
“We had a dream of living a simple life, making our medicines on a quiet farm, in a spiritual environment, and being self-sustaining,” they said.
It’s just the latest in a bad run for the ladies, after they were forced to move their business when new legislation rendered their operation illegal in their original location.
The nuns have since picked up and moved to the more marijuana-friendly locale of Merced County.