Three men standing among pot plants.
The three founders of Lyfted Farms stand in their facility in Modesto, November 2021. From left to right: Shaun Serpa, Bob Blink, and Chris Parker. Photo by Ruben Paredes Jr.

Legacy brand Lyfted Farms has been a part of the Central Valley weed scene that was big in the Bay Area since getting into growing medical cannabis following California’s 1996 Prop 215, which legalized medical marijuana. Since then, they’ve built a massive strain library and entered the recreational market after partnering with Canadian firm Transcanna. In November, the brand held a soft opening of the new facility, which is now in operation as it continues to come online. 

Transcanna provided the property that is now being built out as Lyfted’s massive “Canna Campus,” including licensed facilities for indoor growing, manufacturing, storage, and distribution including the nursery, packaging, distribution/fulfillment . The expansion sets the stage for the next phase of a brand that’s been supplying the state with top shelf za for decades. 

The new Modesto campus is 196k sq ft, which is about 4 acres under one roof. The campus will eventually offer 1,050 lights, producing 200 lbs. of premium indoor flower a week, according to the company. Lyfted also has begun operating and developing several acres of mixed-light greenhouse spaces off-site, through management, consultant, and distribution contracts for other brands. 

When fully up and running, the facility will also be set up for Type 6 and Type 7 manufacturing. With a gigantic 4,000 square foot -40° deep freezer already running, Lyfted is currently storing trim and fresh frozen for industry elites. They will also operate a large distribution center, a hub that will service the north and the south of the state from its central location in the heart of the valley. 

According to co-founder Shaun Serpa, Lyfted Farms’ goal is to be self-sufficient throughout the  supply chain. “By obtaining the correct State licensure, it ensures we control all touch points of  our products to include creating and maintaining unique genetics with our Nursery license, to  end retail delivery to select retailers through our distribution license. This has been our model  since 1997,” Sherpa says.

A grow room in Lyfted Farms’ new Modesto facility, November, 2021. Photo by Ruben Paredes Jr.

The new facility will gradually go online over the next year, but already the crew is on track to get 350 lights up by the end of this year. 

Pivoting From Medical Grows to the Recreational Market

Lyfted began growing in 1997 as a team of three men: one who could grow plants, one who knew how to sell and network, and one who knew how to build the facilities needed to grow. To this day the brand is run by those three founders. 

In the early days, they worked as a co-op as part of the Prop 215 California medical cannabis market. They participated in the sesh scene around Oakland in the 2000s prior to recreational legalization, and through that sesh culture made a lot of contacts in the Bay Area weed community. 

Serpa says that the three of them were always focused on genetics and pheno-hunting, even before the age of constant new strain drops was a thing. Back when most growers tended to the one or few strains they knew they could sell, Lyfted explored unusual strains and focused on finding the best phenos and growing them well. 

Co-Founder Bob Blink is the master grower behind the scene. He has family roots in cannabis, coming from a Dutch background with ties to exotic cannabis growing. Blink and Serpa have spent decades acquiring choice strains and cultivating phenos in order to create one of the largest and most diverse strain libraries in the state. 

“We’re pheno hunters and connoisseurs. Any time we find a strain we like we keep it in our Lyfted Library.”

In the 90s, they were working with iconic strains like Alaskan Thunderfuck, Trainwreck, Jack Herer, Grandaddy Purple, and pre-98 Bubba Kush. They even visited Amsterdam and met up with DNA Genetics for some insider access to new genetics. From that trip they brought back LA Confidential and its pheno Connie Chung, which had a moment of popularity in California after they returned. 

The brand gained a reputation for having new, unusual, exotic strains that were always fire. Once their clientele started to become elite consumers who would spend big on the best weed, they knew they were on to something special. Even celebs sought out their flower. “The Lyfted bag has found its way to a lot of different homes,” Serpa said, without name-dropping. 

But taking those strong roots in the culture and scaling up to a recreational brand with funding required the men to do a little soul-searching. 

“As a group we tried to decide what was best for our friends and our families. We started out as just three guys, one guy growing, one guy building the setups and another guy selling it,” Serpa said. 

“Three guys turned into 30 employees. So, we thought this has turned into something, what’s the next move?” After getting numerous offers, they felt they had to make a decision “It was one thing to provide for our friends and family, but to turn it into an actual growing business and to have the opportunities to move to a new facility” required partnering with an investor. 

Serpa says the solution was to work with a company that treats them like partners. One thing  they were committed to was finding a group that let them control the direction of the Lyfted  brand and allowing boots on the ground decisions to be made in the ever-changing  marketplace of California. Transcanna was that partner.  

“Transcanna’s headquarters is located in Vancouver, BC and is comprised of our executive team  that interacts with the Capital markets and the Canadian Securities Exchange. We’re still running the day-to-day operations. We’re the ones running cannabis operations,  boots on the ground, doing the build-outs, raising capital, all kinds of stuff,” Serpa says. In fact,  Transcanna has appointed Lyfted’s Blink to the role of CEO. 

The biggest impact of the partnership has not been on their personal wealth, but rather on the ability for the brand to scale up. 

“The culture doesn’t like sell outs and buy outs and stuff like that. It’s a tough, torn thing. We tell people, hey, we didn’t sell out, we’re still here, we’re all still living in the same homes, driving the same cars, nothing’s changed,” Serpa says. “The only thing that’s changed is that we’re growing with Transcanna.”

Collabs & New Flavors Coming Down the Pike

Lyfted Farms is committed to the culture that they grew out of. They grow for indie brands like Fresca and Taste Deez Treatz, and they’ve recently founded partnership brands Donkmaster and Drink Champions.

The strain Pink Helado for the brand Taste Deez Treatz grows in Lyfted Farms’ new Modesto facility, November 2021. Photo by Ruben Paredes Jr.

Lyfted is currently growing about 35 strains in total, but with their new facility offering tons more grow space, “We’re ramping up our cultivation and we’re looking for new genetics, stuff other people don’t have,” Serpa says. 

To that end, the brand has recently been working with top cultivator in the game Seed Junky Genetics. They’re already harvesting versions of London Pound Cake x Jealousy, Grape Pie x Bacio, Bacio, and Oreoz, all of which are testing in the high 20s and low 30s (% THC). 

Keeping a constant supply of new genetics is the name of the game, these days. “This cannabis market changes overnight,” Serpa said. “We’re always growing different genetics so when things change we can pivot with the climate of the industry at the time.”

And with the scale-up in production, Serpa hopes to address another nagging problem in the industry: high prices. Although they grow top shelf weed, Lyfted has always been about offering good product to the community. 

“We’re expanding and we’re hoping that as we expand, we can drop the prices for the people. We’re trying to get those prices down,” Serpa said, noting that there’s currently a big shakeup in the industry at the moment. 

“Even before the market shakeup, we said we need to get this price point down. Because this weed is supposed to be for everybody.”

Look for new fire strains, lower prices, and expanded availability in the next year as Lyfted continues its legacy as a premier California weed brand.