80's Story of Nevil's The Seed Bank

Originally published in High Times Magazine

Inside Cannabis Castle

Incredible story of the man who would be King of Cannabis

by Steven Hager
Photographs by Jeff Vaughn


It is Thursday, November 6. 1986 and Nevil has just returned from his daily pilgrimage to a nearby post office. It is raining lightly and a cold breeze blows off the Rhine River. Although the sun made a brief appearance early in the day, it has since been obliterated by massive, billowing clouds.

As Nevil enters his house, he is assaulted by his watchdog, Elka. He climbs the stain to his living room, flops on an old couch, and starts opening his mail. “Breeding is a matter of bending nature to your will,” he says while drawing a toke on a joint of Skunk #1. “There’s not a coffee shop in Holland that can produce better weed than this. But I don’t sell it. I give it away—or I throw it away.”

In a few short years. Nevil has made an incredible transformation from penniless junkie to wealthy entrepeneur. Although he’s an effective and efficient businessman, marijuana is his business, so things are run a bit differently around here than at most companies. For example, resinous buds of exotic types of cannabis are strewn haphazardly about the room, as are large chunks of hash and bags filled with seeds.

Nevil is a displaced Australian of Dutch heritage, and has a quiet, understated sense of humor. He lives in relative seclusion on his estate, breeding marijuana, playing pool, watching video, waiting patiently for his many cannabis experiments to bear fruit. He has his doubts about the future of the marijuana business in the Netherlands, but these doubts are likely to disappear in a whiff of smoke whenever he samples a new, successful hybrid.

“In the beginning I was quite keen for people to come here and visit me, but I found it takes large amounts of my time.” he says. “I have to sit around and smoke with them. Now it has to be someone worthwhile, someone who has a large project in mind. Most American growers are looking for the same thing: strong, overpowering, two-toke indica with huge yields. My number one seller is Northern Lights.”

Last year Nevil supplied $500,000 worth of seeds to 15.000 American growers.

After the mail has been sorted and delivered to the in-house accountant, Nevil visits the basement to inspect his prize plants. The doors to four grow rooms are wide open, disclosing the blinding glare of dozens of sodium and halide lights. Powerful exhaust fans circulate the air, and the smell of cannabis is overpowering. Three of the rooms are devoted to young seedlings, while the largest contains 40 flowering females in their spectacular resinous glory.

It’s no secret than an explosion of indoor marijuana propagation has taken place in America: grow stores are sprouting across the nation and sodium and halide lights are selling faster than Christmas trees in December. The reason for this sudden interest in indoor growing is no secret either: for the past two years high-quality marijuana has been nearly impossible to find—unless, of course, one personally knows a grower. But any pot fanner will tell you good equipment does not guarantee a good harvest. The most important element, in fact, is good seeds. And until recently, good seeds have been as rare as a $15 lid of Colombian gold.

Thanks to Nevil, however, this sad situation has changed. Every day letters pour into his post office box, letters containing American dollars wrapped in carbon paper to avoid detection. The money is for seeds. Not ordinary pot seeds. but the best, most potent seeds on the market, seeds that will grow gargantuan buds dripping with resin, seeds that cost between $2 and $5 each.

Nevil’s seed factory has been in business for three years and it perfectly legal. The Dutch government views Nevil as a legitimate, tax-paying businessman. Seed merchants are held in esteem in Holland, and even though Nevil is something of a small fry by seed merchant standards, he is a protected national asset nonetheless. Last year his company supplied $500.000 worth of seeds to 15,000 American growers. If you smoked high-quality marijuana sometime in the last three years, chances are good the buds were grown with Nevil’s stock.

There is a big difference between growing marijuana and breeding for quality. The best-known example of the long-term effects of breeding are the cannabis indica plants that arrived in the United States in the '70s. For hundreds of years indica plants were bred by Afghani farmers for disease resistance, early flowering, large buds, and wide leaves. The strain was developed for hash production but it was also useful for American growers who had difficulty with sativa strains, most of which require longer growing cycles.

Ever since indica arrived in this country, breeders have been treating hybrids that take advantage of indica’s hardiness and sativa’s clear, bell-like high. The results of these experiments first appeared at secret harvest festivals in California, Oregon, and Washington. Then, in the early '80s, a legendary underground organization called the Sacred Seed Company began distributing these remarkable hybrids. Nevil’s company, The Seed Bank, sells many strains originally developed by the Sacred Seed Company, including the famed Skunk #1, Early Girl, and California Orange. In the past three years, however, some of the most mindblowing strains have come out of the Pacific Northwest area: Northern Lights, University, Big Bud, and Hash Plant are adequate proof that Seattle and Portland now hold the breeding crown. Needless to say, Nevil’s Seed Bank has obtained cuttings and seeds of all these varieties and will soon be offering them for sale. Who is Nevil and how did he come to found this amazing company? As usual, the truth is wilder than anything HIGH TIMES could invent.


The man who would be King of Cannabis is the son of Dutch migrants who settled in Perth, Australia, in 1954. His father worked as an instructor for telephone technicians, while his mother became a counselor for unwed mothers. They were adventurous, hardworking Catholics, and they raised their six children strictly, sending them to Catholic schools.

“I wasn’t the most malleable child,” admits Nevil. “From an early age I had an aversion to authority. I was the first-born, and I saw myself as a sort of pathbreaker for the rest of the children.” Despite his rebellious nature, Nevil was intelligent enough to jump two years ahead of his peers, a leap that resulted in his being the smallest in class. “I got beat up a lot,” he admits. “A typical day would start with the teacher calling me up in front of the class to smell my breath. ‘Yep.’ she’d say, ‘You’ve been smoking.’ And I’d get six of the best straight away. And that was just to start the day! Usually a thing like that would put me into a bad mood, so the rest of the day wasn’t much good either. It worked out I got the strap 900 times in one year, the school record.”

Nevil was not your typical juvenile delinquent. At age seven, he began raising parakeets; two years later he joined the Parakeet Society of Western Australia. “My best friend across the road got some parakeets,” he explains. “and I got extremely jealous. After he started breeding I became quite adamant I’d do the same.”

He eventually became friends with one of Australia’s leading parakeet breeders, Bob Graham. “I learned an awful lot from him,” he says. “He was a quadriplegic and he was incredibly intelligent.” Nevil learned Mendel’s laws of breeding and began charting dominant, recessive, and intermediate traits for his birds (something he would later do with cannabis plants). “I bought some of Graham’s stock and got immediate results,” he says, “When you breed parakeets, you breed to an ideal. It’s like sculpting with genes.”

When he was 15, Nevil was sent to a state school and forced to repeat his third year of high school. Consequently, he caught up with his classmates in size. “I got into a few fight,” he says with a smile, “just to get back for all the times I’d been beaten up.”

Although discipline at the school was considered harsh, it proved a cakewalk after Catholic school. “The first time I was brought before the headmaster to be punished, he made me hold out my hand and he tapped it twice with a cane,” recalls Nevil. “I thought he was just aiming. I closed my eyes and waited for the real pain, but it never came. I was quite shocked. I thought. ‘Well, now I can do anything I want.’ I ignored the dress code and dressed how I pleased. That didn’t go over well and I managed to get kicked out within three months.” He also discovered marijuana.

To be continued…


thank you for interesting story I can´t wait for another part and more stories of interested lives of interested people:book:

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:book: The story of Nevil Schoenmakers part 2


“I had an American friend who suggested we buy some,” he says. “I remember thinking, ‘Okay. I’m not scared’ We both pretended we’d done it before, when in fact, neither of us had. After scoring from someone at school, we went back to a shed outside his house. I volunteered to roll joints, even though I’d never done it before. There were three of us and I rolled three joints, one for each of us, hahaha. It seemed logical at the time, still does, actually, even though it was more normal to pass joints. But we didn’t know any better. It was Indonesian weed and we got extremely ripped. I really liked the sense of time distortion—everything happened so slowly.”

There was plenty of high-quality reefer going around Australia, and to insure a steady supply for himself, Nevil made the jump from smoker to dealer in a matter of weeks. Meanwhile, to satisfy his parents, he found a legitimate job. “As long as I couldn’t be the pope, my mother wanted me to be a doctor or a veterinarian.” he says. “My father didn’t see this as a possibility and just wanted me to get a job. Fortunately, I was offered work as a lab assistant at a local university, which was semiprofessional, eh? And I was working, so they were both satisfied.”

NeVil did well at the position. So well, in fact, that he was made acting head of the anatomy lab with responsibility for the operating room, animal room, and office. He was given the only set of keys to the drug cabinet and placed in charge of ordering drugs when supplies ran low. For someone interested in sampling illicit chemicals, it seemed like the perfect job.

“Having heard horror stories about cannabis and how horrible it was for you, I decided everyone in authority lied about drugs,” says Nevil. “I knew cannabis wasn’t harmful. I concluded the harmful effects of other drugs must be exaggerated as well. I started with barbituates. I knew many people used them for sleeping tablets. Eventually, I tried morphine. I was quite good at giving injections. There’s something very professional and doctorlike about giving yourself an injection. I had to inject rabbits and mice all the time, and if you can hit a vein in a rabbit’s ear, you can get any human vein. I veined the first time I tried. Morphine made me feel good. I had friends who were already addicted to heroin and they encouraged me. Soon, I had a bag filled with tablets, pills, and chemicals of all sorts from the lab.” Unfortunately for Nevil, this situation was not destined to last. Within a few months, he was arrested for drug possession. And it didn’t take long for the police to figure out where the drugs had come from.

The head of the anatomy department suggested Nevil be sent to a treatment center. His parents agreed and had their son committed to a university psychiatric ward for six weeks. “I wasn’t addicted at the time,” says Nevil. “I used far too large a variety of ingestibles to become addicted to any one thing. After I was released I had the option of working part-time at the University—to build up my position again. But. uh, I felt the stigma of being a known user. It was a bit unbearable. So I left and started hanging around with people who supplied smack. Even though I started shooting smack. I never sold it. I just sold weed.”

One day Nevil woke up with a terrific backache. His hips and the base of his spine hurt terribly. He went to a doctor and was given some pain pills, which proved useless. The doctor couldn’t find anything wrong. Nevil went home and the pain still wouldn’t go away. “Then I realized, ‘Shit, I’m addicted,’” he says “It was quite a substantial shock even though) knew it had to come eventually.” He enrolled in a methadone program, which proved to be an extremely dehumanizing experience. “They made me beg for drugs.” he says “I didn’t like that. I was scoring weed in Melbourne and shipping it back in huge speakers, telling people I was in a band. I was making what seemed like a huge sum of money—$5,000 a week.”

Unfortunately, Nevil gave a free sample to a girl who was later arrested by the police. The girl identified Nevil as her supplier and a long court case ensued, one that eventually reached the Australian version of the Supreme Court. Throughout the trial, Nevil was enrolled in a methadone program and under psychiatric supervision. “I got the feeling things were coming to a head,” he says. “My drug problem seemed quite insurmountable and the case didn’t look promising. So I flew to Thailand.”


For several weeks Nevil lived in a cheap hotel in Bangkok, shooting heroin until his money ran out. He skipped out on the bill, moved to another hotel, and began hawking his valuables to raise money. “I found a taxi driver who would take me to exclusive shops in the city,” he says. “The driver would get a kickback from the store for delivering Europeans to the shop, whether they bought anything or not. After we left, the driver and I would split the kickback.”

However, after they’d visited every shop in Bangkok (and were no longer welcome at any of them), Nevil telephoned his parents and asked for a plane ticket home. Unfortunately, the police had already appeared at his house with a warrant for his arrest. “It didn’t seem prudent to return to Australia.” says Nevil with typical understatement. His parents sent him a ticket to the Netherlands and the address of an uncle living in the countryside.

After Thailand, Nevil’s habit was really out ofcontrol. Upon arriving in Holland, he immediately enrolled in a methadone program and discovered he required 24 tablets a day to stay straight. "I handled that for about six months.- he says. “I was trying to cut down, trying to fit in. I had unemployment benefits, which is enough to survive in Holland. But I was feeling quite lonely.” Six months later, he moved to Tillberg, the center of Holland’s smack scene.

Obviously, Tillberg was not the sort of environment conducive to kicking heroin. Junkies had taken over the city, converting pubs and hotels into shooting galleries. “My first day in town, I went to a bar called the Lawyer’s Purse,” says Nevil. “Smack was being sold up and down the counter. It was a madhouse. Apparently, the police didn’t—or couldn’t—do anything about it. It went on like that for quite some time. When the police would close one place down, everyone would move to another bar. It was a fairly rough town and I went through a time of hardship. I had no money except welfare. I had a raging habit. I was living in a town known for being tough and criminal. I cost the state large chunks of money as I went through all the available drug rehabilitation programs. After having nude numerous failed attempts at stopping, I decided no one could help me. Which is true. No one can help a junkie. He can only help himself. So, I decided to kick heroin on my own. I convinced a doctor to give me 'ludes to sleep and a synthetic opiate, which probably didn’t do anything. I stayed home and suffered for six weeks until I reached the point where I could handle alcohol. Then started drinking every day, a half bottle of Scotch in the morning, a half bottle at night. I used the 'ludes to sleep, so that there was always a certain part of the day blocked out. Eventually. I got sick of hangovers and turned to grass. I decided it was probably the only acceptable drug.”

In 1980, while still trying to kick his habit, Nevil stumbled across a copy of the Marijuana Grower’s Guide by Mel Frank and Ed Rosenthal. “I’d grown some weed in the bush in Australia,” he says. The book helped reawaken Nevil’s interest in genetics. Why not combine his two favorite pursuits, breeding and drugs? Nevil applied for a loan to build an indoor growing chamber for marijuana. Only in Holland could such a request be taken seriously. “The drug program I was enrolled in gave grants to drug addicts to get them started doing something useful” he explains. “I told them I wanted to grow weed indoors. They weren’t thrilled with the idea, but they gave me the money anyway.” The unit consisted of eight 5-foot fluorescent lights. “There was a vacant lot behind my apartment and I filled it with weed. I had Nigerian, Colombian, and Mexican seeds. The Mexican was the best. I still have the strain. My dwarfs come front it.” Although there wasn’t much demand for homegrown weed in Holland, hash oil was a valuable commodity and could be sold easily. So Nevil became a professional hash oil maker.


Nevil used petroleum ether, an extremely flammable liquid, for the distillation process. “I was heating it with thermostatically controlled electric plates.” he says. Unfortunately, however, Nevil didn’t realize that the thermostat on the heater had to be placed in another room because the thermostat sparks when turned on. He had a sink filled with 40 liters of petroleum ether, as well as a can with another 10 liters on the floor. One day he turned on the thermostat and it sparked. The spark turned into a flame, which instantly turned into a raging fire.

With eyes closed. Nevil ran to the adjoining room and dove out the window, bouncing off a roof and rolling onto a sidewalk. “My first thought after hitting the ground was to save my dope,” he says with a laugh. He ran back inside, grabbed whatever hash oil he could find, and buried it in the backyard. He went back again and collected whatever valuables he could find. 'Then I went next door to tell the neighbors," he says. “They were shocked by my appearance. I didn’t realize my hair was singed, my face was black, my clothes were torn. I had first- and second-degree bums and was covered with blisters.”

Twenty minutes later the police arrived, followed by the fire brigade and an ambulance. At the hospital, the bum specialist told him he was lucky to be in such pain because it meant the bums weren’t first degree. He was given a shot of morphine to kill the pain. The next morning, however, Nevil refused further shots. “I knew I’d turn into a junkie again,” he says.

Despite horror stories from his doctors about being scarred for life, Nevil was released two weeks later with no visible damage. There was one permanent change, however. Nevil decided not to make hash oil anymore.

Since Nevil had been reading HIGH TIMES, he knew revolutionary new indica strains were appearing in the United States, even though none were available in Holland. If only he could grow weed the Dutch would consider palatable, then he’d be in business and could sell marijuana instead of hash oil. He searched through copies of HIGH TIMES, hoping to find an indica seed supplier. “I looked for hidden meanings in all the ads.” he says. “Of course, it was just fantasy on my part. I knew how difficult it was to get good Nigerian and Indonesian seeds in America and I wanted to trade with someone.”

Eventually, Nevil realized there was only one way to obtain good seeds, and that was to become a seed merchant himself. He hired a lawyer to investigate the legal implications and discovered it was possible to sell cannabis seeds in the Netherlands. Within a matter of months, he sent his first ad to HIGH TIMES.

Nevil goes to great expense to obtain seeds, even secretly traveling into Afghanistan.

“I expected there were thousands of people just like me, and as soon as they saw the ad, I’d be in business,” recalls Nevil. Business, however, was disappointingly slow for the first few months. Why? Probably because most readers found it hard to believe high-quality seeds could be obtained so easily. Nevil doesn’t discuss his distribution system, but there is no doubt the seeds were getting through. Most of the money Nevil received went back into improving his seed strains. Nevil went to great expense to obtain seeds, a commitment that is best illustrated by a secret trip to Mazar I Sharif in Afghanistan. According to the Moslem legend, one of Mohamad’s sons died in the city. Consequently, it is a very holy city. It is also known for high-quality hashish. Although hash from the area had been readily available in Holland in the '70s, the Soviet invasion of the country greatly reduced exports. In 1985, an Afghan refugee told Nevil the fields around Mazar I Sharif were being destroyed. “That was all I needed to hear.” says Nevil. “I caught the next plane to Pakistan to save the strain.”

The story of this adventure was first reported in Regardies Magazine and written by former HIGH TIMES reporter A. Craig Copetas. “After being smuggled into a refugee camp near Peshawar while lying on the floor of a car, Nevil made contact with a 30-year-old Muslim fanatic who had a throbbing vein that ran from between his eyes straight up his forehead,” wrote Copetas. “The man took a lump of black hash out of his pocket and told Nevil that it had been processed by his uncle, a man known as Mr. Hashish. Surrounded by four men who were pointing machine-guns at him, Nevil set about negotiating with Mr. Hashish, a Mujahedin commander, and finally persuaded him to send a squad of his men 280 miles into Soviet-occupied territory and come back with two kilos of healthy Mazari seeds.”

“He thought I was ridiculous because I didn’t want to buy hash or opium.” recalls Nevil. “Nobody had ever come there before to buy seeds, and at first he had no idea what I was talking about.I stood there trying to explain genetics to this tribal hash leader in sign language. When he finally figured out what I wanted, he asked for too much money. I took a zero off his price and gave him ten percent up front. He called me a bandit, but I had the seeds four days later.”

Nevil also went to great lengths to obtain ruderalis seeds, a little-known cannabis strain that grows primarily in Russia. Although some American growers have sold so-called ruderalis strains in the past, Nevil undertook the necessary trip to the Russian-Hungarian border to authenticate the plant. Ruderalis is not known for spectacular resin content, but it flowers automatically—regardless of photoperiod, which makes it an extremely useful hybrid, especially for outdoor growers. Nevil plans to cross ruderalis-indica hybrids with his Mexican dwarfs. The result? The ultimate cannabis strain: a potent indoor/outdoor bonsai marijuana tree thaf matures within two months and never reaches a height over two feet. The plant would be nearly impossible to detect from the air and it could take years before the DEA even figured out what it was. Nevil is so close to perfecting this strain that seeds could be available by the time this article is published. This and other miracles can be expected soon from Cannabis Castle.

“Since becoming a seed merchant, I’ve directed all my energies and money into finding people with superior strains of cannabis and getting seeds out of them,” says Nevil. “And I can honestly say, I’ve never heard of a strain I wanted that I wasn’t able to get—one way or another. Theoretically, there is someone out there growing better stuff than I am using my seeds. Why? Because tens of thousands of plants are being grown with my stock. Selection from tens of thousands gets phenomenal results, while I can only select from a few hundred. I’m not holding back hack anything. Any grower in America can experiment with the same stock I do.”


Besides Nevil’s Seed Bank. there’s at lust one other major source for pot seeds In Holland: The Super Sativa Seed Club (SSSC), an organ ration burned in 1984 by two Dutch nationals. SSSC recently published their first seed catalog which lists over 30 varieties of cannabis seeds. It is also packed with growing information on on every aspect of marijuana cultivation.
SSSC’s emphasis on high-tech indoor growing makes the catalog a must for serious growers. In Holland, plants are studied scientifically So SSSC’s catalog discusses —in understandable terms— the basics of plant growth: the relationships between photosynthesis. respiration, and the production of sugars. “We are concerned with improving growth, even if we only improve just 1% at a time,” write the authors. Other sections include “The Making of Cuttings.” a complete description of proven techniques for succesful cutting; “The Blanket Method,” which tells how to grow several crops a year ease (see “Grow American.” February, 1987 HIGH TIMES); and a chapter on Rockwool and nutrients. —Jorge Cervantes

DC rates some of the strains from Cannabis Castle


First became mashes around 1910. The Dom Perignon of domestic marijuana and one of my personal favorites. Very clean. cerebral high. Early on, the bud has the aroma of fine perfume. Pick it late and it smells like skunk. Good A.M. smoke.


Narcotic. Paralyzing. Heart pounding. There’s nothing nice about this high. Just pure, physical strength. Nothing in the head, only a body high. Not one of the Connoisseur’s favorites.


The Fl hybrid is without a doubt some of the finest marijuana ever to have crossed this Connoisseur’s lips. Let it ripen until the resin glands turn amber and it will produce sweet-tasting pot, with a wonderful, stony high. I wish I had pounds of it around all the lime.


Very good, vigorous, pure Afghani indica plant. The buds are a little on the small side. While it can be smoked as marijuana, it is better put through a silkscreen and turned into hash.


State-of-the-art Indoor indica. Originating out of the Pacific Northwest, it is the result of many years of Indoor breeding—three to four crops per year for a total of perhaps thirty to forty generations in the last ten years. The picture in Nevil’s catalogue is a cutting of my personal favorite. CI #5 F1. Unfortunately, no seeds are available of the strain, only cuttings. If anyone can come up with anything more resinous than this, I’d like to see it. Does not have much taste. The breeder had a very specific goal in mind: high resin content. He certainly succeeded. The grass is a mellow indica that gets you pleasantly stoned - almost the opposite of Afghani #1. Although there are tastier varieties, I could smoke this one all day.


Very good, strong indica with just a little sativa. Worth growing indoors for cash crap or your own head. Will take an extra week or two, but well worth waiting for. Within a few hits you will be nicely stoned and will find it hard to believe this plant was grown under HPS lamps. The high is strong, not as cerebral as #5, but a good smoke for the late night.


Very pleasant, sweet-tasting. Some buds have a truly citrus smell and taste. Very nice indica-sativa hybrid. The sativa comes on first, you feel light-weight and spacey and then ten minutes later you feel the indica come creeping up and …“oh shit, I’m getting more stoned than I thought”


Bred and developed in upstate New York. Does extremely well outdoors. Plant looks sativa but the buds come out indica. The high is a bit more sativa-like than California Orange, more cerebral.


Overpowering sativa high. It’s too heavy, really, but some people want it. Grows to more than 20 feet and will not mature until the end of October.


props on this!! i love reading about nevil!!!


@HydroPower that was a good read. Cheers.


Thanks @HydroPower. Love reading the old school stuff and hearing about the seedbanks that started it all


Me too its a pleasure to wake up some old memories :smiley: and could be veryinteresting for newgrower


Bump for the newbies :sunglasses:

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What an awesome read. Thanks for sharing!


…and to think i mixed up gypsy with nevil. der…


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Know your breeders. We lost a good one this weekend.

Rest in Peace!


Godspeed lad…


What an awesome write up!

A true legend, a great loss for the community.

Rest in Peace, King of Cannabis.

He left behind an incredible legacy.


If anybody has any personal photos of nevil they would be willing to share a close friend of his is writing an article for grow magazine and is putting together what he can. The photos that are available online will be included of course but looking for anything extra to pay tribute to legend.


The newspaper in Australia with his obituary noted that comments would be permitted after April 5th.




In case anybody was wondering or speculating here Is the document explaining who and how nevil was set up and snitched on.
1990 Affidavit of Prosecutor.pdf (589.6 KB)


The Bastard that ratted on nevil has a cannabis nutrient line now from what I can tell, got a friend request on fb from a cogoscannabisformula sent him a message asking if he was same rat bastard ,no response.


Thanks for sharing … :sunglasses:


I got a response and he is the same guy as cogos nutrient formula smh ,the nerve of some people


Glad we have all those names. :cop: :point_right: :coffin: