Meet ILGM’s Writers: Stoney Tark

Join me on a journey through the origins of my career as a grower, breeder, and writer. I'll share my long-term goals and offer advice for turning a cannabis passion into a career.

Meet ILGM’s Writers: Stoney Tark

As I write this piece for ILGM on my 39th birthday, I look back at how I have become a product of my environment and how everything in my life is cannabis-based.

I want to take you on a journey that explains how it all started. Reveal the origins of my career as a grower, breeder, and writer, explain my long-term plans and goals, and give my advice and tips for anyone who wants to insert their passion for cannabis into a career.

So roll up a few flower joints with some hash or dry sift sprinkled down the middle, light up, and enjoy!

Growing up around cannabis

As a youngster, I was always around cannabis plants growing in our greenhouse in the back garden. I would often go inside to help my mother do basic gardening stuff. This was where I learned about topping, pruning, training, and how to make seeds. 

My father was a big smoker. He had a Dutch contact who would provide him with an assortment of old-school Dutch classics, such as AK47, Shiva Skunk, Northern Lights, and Bubblegum. A favorite was Lamb’s Balls, which I later discovered was Jamaican Lambsbread.

I would see all the different buds in plastic tubs under the coffee table, so my parents did not exactly hide the fact they smoked cannabis. Of course, at this time in my life, I was just a skinny little kid, most likely wearing a football kit, oblivious to what cannabis buds were or the actual properties of cannabis plants. I would agree 100% that my parents' relaxed and nothing-to-hide mentality certainly allowed me to see cannabis for what it was, with zero stigma or negative energy attached.

A suburb in 1990s Manchester, United Kingdom
Stoney grew up in Manchester in the UK during the 1980s and 90s.

I was around 17 when I first got my hands on the original Sensi Seed catalogs. Those were like something from another world, giving me my first insight into the lifestyle and culture of Holland, which was only an hour away from Manchester by plane. Catching the bus to the local tattoo shop at the back end of the next town, an hour away, I could also collect Soft Secrets magazine and the odd Red Eye or High Times Magazine. 

My career as a grower

The first time I ever had the idea of growing cannabis seriously began when I became a daily smoker and wanted to contribute to the household stash. With the ok from my parents, my first- -ever proper indoor grow was inside an old cupboard in my bedroom. It was probably 3 feet by 6 feet in size and was perfect for the big bulky CFL bulbs and reflectors. Looking back now, the quality of flower I grew out of that cupboard was phenomenal. That is when I knew I had a passion and skill for growing knockout buds and hash.

Growing cannabis changed my life and my outlook on what was considered clean and organic. I understood that plants and people are closely related, and my relationship with the plant kingdom blossomed to another level. 

This was when the light bulb went off in my head, and I decided to work on making something of myself in the industry. I told myself that if I hadn’t made it by the time I hit my 30s, I’d quit. 

From my early twenties until now, I can’t begin to tell you how many plants and back-to-back grows I have done over a space of nearly two decades. One thing I can tell you is…growing cannabis is the most joyful, loving, and pride-filling experience you can have. It will shape you into the best person you can be.

A passion for breeding cannabis plants

It is only now that I look back as an adult that I realize I was actually involved with breeding cannabis plants in the greenhouse with my mother without even knowing it! I discovered that plants would grow and flower from the Dutch bag seeds in my parents' buds! My first time seeing pollen was from looking at a giant pile of bright yellow dust. The whole floor of the greenhouse was covered in it at one point. Yet, I hadn’t put two and two together. Little did I know that putting that pollen to good use would form such a big part of my passion for breeding. 

Ten years later, my passion for breeding cannabis was at the forefront. I had been making my own crosses since my early twenties, working with lots of Flying Dutchman genetics, BC Bud Depot, Sensi Seeds, and Homegrown Fantaseeds—just to take the old-school growers back for a moment!

Stoney Tark in a growroom
Stoney Tark in one of his grow rooms.

Breeding is such an amazing opportunity to learn about the cannabis plant’s diversity, terpenes, effects, preferred environments, feeding times, and so much more. If you really want to become the best grower out there, then you should spend some time learning about breeding. 

There is absolutely no reason why you cannot start experimenting with making regular or feminized cannabis seeds from the comfort of your own home. 

The writing world

In school, one of my favorite subjects was the English language, and I always enjoyed reading and writing tasks. Between reading the Soft Secrets and High Times magazines, it didn’t take long for me to become inspired and to write educational articles.

In 2014, at the HighLife Cup award show in Amsterdam, I crossed paths with the chief editor and boss of Soft Secrets, Cliff Cremer. Within 10 minutes of our first-ever conversation and me singing his praises for allowing me to judge the cup and be part of such a great event, I explained I had written an 1800-word article about LED lights and how they were going to be the future, and wanted him to publish it.

One thing I can tell you; it doesn’t take a Dutch businessman more than a second to decide what they want. To cut a long story short, I have been the head writer for Soft Secrets for the last decade and have never looked back. I absolutely love working with Soft Secrets and Dutch people, and even though you must get used to how harsh and direct they can be, once you hit it off, success is pretty much guaranteed.

From that first article, Soft Secrets allowed me to not only write alongside the legends I admired and studied growing up, such as Ed Rosenthal and Jorge Cervantes, but also educate myself and push my passion further. Since then, my articles have been seen by millions in Europe.

Podcast and the book

My next passion project was to take my writing work to the next level and write my first book. I felt I could squeeze all my growing experience into a top-tips style book that would save growers time and prevent new growers from making the same mistakes I did. 

Helping others is one of my main incentives as a writer in the cannabis industry. So, after working on the book for nearly a year, the final result was an 18-chapter book containing 180 top tips titled “Stoney Tark’s Top Tips on Growing Cannabis.” Writing a book was certainly a wonderful learning experience that was much harder than you would think!

Stoney Tark's grow tips book
Find Tark's book about grow tips for Cannabis grows here.

After the book release, my next goal was to make a short and concise podcast where I could speak with old-school industry members in a back-and-forth Q&A format to get as many great answers and tips as possible. The final outcome was a 45-minute educational platform called The Roll Models podcast, which included guests such as Dutch Passion, Mila Jansen, Trichome Jungle Seeds, and Cliff Cremer, to name a few.

At this stage in my career, I feel that event organizing is the next big thing and will allow me to provide a framework where growers from all over Europe can come to learn and network. That has been a dream of mine for a long time, and working on breeder conferences and educational-type events will be on my to-do list in the near future.

My tips and advice for working in the cannabis industry

Now, if you are currently working in a dead-end job with anti-cannabis colleagues you’d never normally hang out with, and the future and your career seem as bleak as can be, do not get yourself on a downer. I have worked all types of jobs, from working at Pizza Hut to garbage call center jobs that were the least motivating and mind-numbing, as well as my fair share of seed shops and hydro shops.

All you have to do to make it in any career is to find out what you are passionate about and find people who need that passion. It does not matter if you are a chef, a writer, a DJ, a karate instructor, or a pottery maker. Set your heart on finding people on the same mission as you, and once you find your place in an industry, keep working hard until you get to the top!

One of the most important life lessons and business advice I can offer is to focus on long-term working relationships. Take every opportunity to make working relationships as healthy and strong as possible, and be prepared to consider the importance of longevity.

Always be ready to learn, and think you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. Be open-minded, willing to listen and adapt, and aware that we are always learning and growing as people at our own pace. I count myself blessed that everything I now do in my life is cannabis-related, and I am paid in return. I live a fruitful and wonderful life, working with truly passionate professionals such as the ILGM team.

I firmly believe that everybody has unlimited potential, and once you can fine-tune your passion for life, the rest will fall into place. Thanks for reading my story; I really wish I had inspired you in some way, shape, or form!

Peace out…

Stoney Tark