Ravens have long been associated with mystical forces and spiritual endeavors. They’re often associated with misdeeds and trickery due to their association with carrion, the decaying flesh of the dead. Seeing flocks of ravens feeding on animal carcasses while calling and screaming is a common sight. So common that they’re typecast as signs of bad luck and ill fortune. However, ravens have been known for their intelligence for centuries. Ravens are the most referenced bird in all of Shakespear’s works and are referenced in cultures all around the world for their mischevious ways. Now animal cognition researchers from Sweden have proved their abilities at pre-planning tasks and gratification delay are as good or better than human children and great apes, National Geographic reports. These clever, multi-faceted birds have become the symbol of Lilac City Gardens, a recreational cannabis producer in the outskirts of Spokane, Washington. The team behind Lilac City Gardens chose the raven as their mascot because it’s a problem-solving messenger bird that everyone can relate to in a different way. Their slogan “give em the bird,” embodies the bird’s and cannabis plants rebellious nature.
Lilac City is the official nickname for Spokane and is a fitting name for the setting of the Airway Heights foothills around the Spokane Intl. Airport. Eastern Washington’s beauty is thrown in your face on the drive to their facility. The facility is surrounded by farmland and open fields, you can see Spokane in the distance, look West and you can make out the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.
The facility itself looks like a two-story shop/house combo. The groundskeeper was edging the grass with a weed-wacker under a bright sun. The Rhymesayers hip-hop group Atmosphere was knocking their facility sound system. Hearing one of my favorite artists over the speakers put a smile on my face and a groove in my step before I saw a single cannabis plant.
I was greeted by Libby, Rocky, Chris and Devin, several members of Lilac City Gardens. Libby, Rocky, and Chris also happen to be siblings. Three weeks ago, Libby quit her job in pet retail to work as Team Lilac’s full-time Social Media Manager. Chris started around a year ago and is one of the lead Artisan Growers, Rocky is a team veteran who handles all of the daily operations and Devin has been the Processing Manager for over two years and the team designated “Queen Chiefer,” according to her co-workers. Team chemistry is important to Lilac City Gardens and as Rocky signs every invoice as Team Lilac to signal this.
Lilac City Gardens is an official 502 sponsor of the Spokane Knitting Factory. Music is a definite side passion of Team Lilac’s and their taste in underground hip-hop made that apparent. During work, Devin likes listening to The Notorious B.I.G. and Atmosphere while Libby prefers math rock and queer punk.
Lilac City Gardens cut their first clones in Washington’s medical marijuana industry. When they obtained a recreational license in Nov. 2014, the goals didn’t change much. Growing “high caliber” medical marijuana for recreational customers using their tier-two license, Rocky said. Sticking closely to their medical grow techniques helped Lilac City Gardens stay alive in the early stages of their switch to recreational. Keeping each room sparsely populated leaving space for each plant to be cared for individually was and still is key to their success.
Since they’re only producing around 50 pounds of cannabis per month, Team Lilac makes sure every single plant gets ample amounts of attention by keeping their grow rooms well below capacity. There is a walking path to goes to every plant, and this keeps plants and employees happy. The plants love the extra attention and caring for the plants is what makes this job worthwhile for the growers.
” I like happy plants,” Chris said. Each plant’s happy life begins as an aeroponically grown clone that is chopped from one of their mother plants. Many of their strains are created in-house through extensive phenotype hunts. Lilac City Gardens’ has created an original lineup that has fan favorites, industry staples, and original creations. Epoxy, Glueberry #1, Sour Berry, Montana Silver Tip, Cherry Cookie, God’s Gift, Blue Dream, Big Sky Blueberry, L.A. Confidential, Granddaddy Purple and UW Purple have all been rotated through their garden.
Once the root systems are fully developed in the aeroponics, the plants are transferred into Roots Organic soil. This soil is comprised of all organic materials like bat guano, premium earthworm castings, fish bone meal, feather meal, green sand, mycorrhizae, glacial rock dust, soybean meal and humic acid. Once in the soil, the plant begins its eight-week growing cycle. Each room has a specific climate controlled atmosphere depending on the strains housed inside. Eventually, each room will house a single strain so the strain-specific climate controls can be assigned to every single room.
While growing the plants can become fairly standard busy work, strain selection, breeding, and phenohunts are what keeps the team hungry. The search for that next strain and “creating things that only exist here” is where the real passion lies, Rocky says.
Some of these creations include Glueberry #1, a new take on a GG strain. Glueberry is a cross between Epoxy (GG5) and Berry White. Phenotype #1 was chosen because it smells like sour spices with grape juice and retained both parents potent qualities. Team Lilac is also working on a UW Purp and Face Off OG cross and a Cherry Cookie cross that is coming out sometime in the future.
Phenohunts are an arduous process can take up to a year and then the strain has to be worked into the menu. The strain menu is one of the hardest things to capture, and much of it based on sales. Some strains develop cult followings and require consistent batches, and rotating in new strains is carefully considered. Lilac would much rather create their own strains rather than compete with the trends.
Sour Berry and Montana Silver Tip are two strains that captured audiences for different reasons. Sour Berry is a Blueberry and NYC Diesel cross. It’s a flavorful and mellow hybrid. Montana Silver Tip produces big beautiful flowers that have indigo colors and high THC numbers, with tests reaching over 25 percent cannabinoids. The Cherry Cookie strain was introduced to the menu because Team Lilac wanted to give fans their take on a Cookies (GSC) strain. The sour cherry terpenes are sharp and the sativa qualities snap your brain awake, even though testing numbers are low. Each strain has its own defining traits and brings plays a unique role in the lineup.
Lilac City Gardens’ Strain Gallery
“Lilac is my home away from home my second family. I get to wake up every morning and work with some of my best friends and my favorite flower. It’s always sunny and 70 degrees so I’m in a good mood. We all have each other’s backs. And we really are a family. It’s important to get up and do what you love every day and I get to do that working for Lilac City Garden,” Devin
The UW Purp strain’s backstory is one of urban legend. The lore of UW Purp starts at the University of Washington’s medical marijuana research lab sometime between the 1970’s and 1990’s. A clone was taken from one of the plants in the lab and spread amongst the people. The colors of the flower reflect the name and is a relaxing indica. Rocky isn’t sure if the UW Purp lore is true, but it’s fun and exciting to believe so. This strain is a definite fan favorite and Chris’ favorite.
Epoxy is Team Lilac’s counter-punch to the GG #4 saturation. It’s created from two strong Glue phenotypes and provides powerful relaxing qualities. Epoxy is Libby and Devin’s favorite strain in the garden. The combination of the smell and relaxing effects make it a First-Team All-Star. Burning through bong bowls of Epoxy and listening to podcasts is something they both have in common. Devin also likes packing what she calls a “dessert bowl,” which consists of one-part flower, one-part oil and one-part kief stacked on top of each other like a three-tier wedding cake.
Even wildly varying musical tastes don’t dim the team chemistry. While there is a definite chain of command within the facility, everyone on Team Lilac is equal. When someone needs help trimming, packaging, moving plants, etc. another member steps up to get the job done. When everyone clicks we “feel unstoppable,” they said.
Team Lilac is looking forward to and saving for an entire second-floor expansion of their facility. Team Lilac enjoy being on the spearhead of the cannabis recreational cannabis industry, finds motivation in the mystery of the future and is excited to rise to the challenge and solving any problem in their way, much like a flock of clever ravens.