In the cannabis industry, stories of collaboration and community engagement are often stickers designed to pay lip service to areas or predecessors, but it’s rare that genuine collaboration occurs.

The story of Jay Wills of Tree1Four and his partnership with VIBE Cannabis stands as an exception to the rule. A collaborative effort that prioritizes innovation and passion while bringing homegrown craft quality cannabis to scale for consumers. This collaboration has not only produced exceptional cannabis cultivars but also woven a rich tapestry of stories that resonate deeply with both creators and consumers alike.

Liquid Sunshine | VIBE x Tree1Four

“Back in 1987,a friend called me up and said, ‘Hey, man. You’re gonna come out with us tonight to a party.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, okay. No problem.’ At the party, they broke out a Pepsi can with a bunch of holes in it, which intrigued me.  After that experience, my life changed. It was the first time that I felt like myself, I felt like ‘This is me.’ That day, cannabis became my passion.”

And that passion has become a lifelong process of creating, growing, improving, and sharing his love and passion for cannabis. Now that passion has culminated in a partnership with VIBE that sees Wills sharing some of his most beloved homegrown cultivars with cannabis consumers on a scale that he was never possible before.

As Wills honed his skills and deepened his understanding of cannabis genetics, he navigated the complexities of the evolving legal landscape of cannabis in the United States. From his beginnings in Montana to his work in Colorado and Oregon, Wills amassed a wealth of knowledge and experience that would eventually draw him back to his roots in Missouri. “When Missouri passed legal marijuana, it was like, I’m coming home. I can finally come home and be free and do me,” Wills recounted.

Back home in Missouri, Wills was working to find a balance between his passion and knowledge and a platform to best use it. While he was happy to share his knowledge as a consultant and training newly legal home growers, there were more opportunities for Wills. Meanwhile, VIBE was building a company and culture rooted in Missouri community and support.

Cutiez | VIBE x Tree1Four

Jonathan Milo, Founder & CEO of VIBE, wanted to build a collaboration with a Missouri or St. Louis cannabis breeder, a rare find in a state that was in its legalized infancy.  Meeting Tree1Four through one of his trusted cultivation leaders, Nick McGinley, VIBE believed in the the opportunity with Tree1Four.  VIBE’s goal was to expand Tree1Four’s genetics platform while bringing unique Missouri-bred and grown cultivars to patients and consumers, while many counterparts placed sole reliance on out-of-state genetics. During the immaculate conception period, VIBE put genetics from Tree1Four into their library and started the process of pheno-hunting these Missouri-born and bred cultivars, something unheard of in the state

For Wills, the process of turning his genetics into commercially viable plants was painstaking. “I can’t tell you how many plants I took down that I would have kept if I was still at home,” he laughed. “They were great plants, but what we were doing, what we needed, were olympians. We needed the stuff that was the best of the best.” Wills detailed the process saying that more than 400 plants were grown at VIBE from Tree1Four genetics.

“When we plant 6 to 12 random strains or clones, or even seeds, specifically, I’d be happy if we got 2 to 3 good ones out of those,” explained Milo. “You take a lot of risk because you have to plan way in advance since a pheno-hunt takes at least 12 months. So the work we do right now, all that heavy lifting, planting 400 seeds, taking care of 400 different mothers, taking notes on the details…you don’t see the results for about 12 months.  Along that journey, you’re asking yourself about the strain, but also each individual pheno, does it yield well?  Does it smell differently?  Does it taste differently? Does it wash better? Because I could plant 40 seeds of Mississippi Nights, they can have a similar profile, but they all could be different. Some could be way taller, some could be shorter, some could taste different, some could smell different, some buds could look different. Going through that process and all that work we were fortunate enough to find a viable pheno for each strain. Many of these phenos and strains became great washstrains, which is very hard to find, in addition to  great flower strains.” Milo said.

Mississippi Nights | VIBE x Tree1Four

The strength of the genetics from Wills and Tree1Four has helped the relationship with VIBE flourish. The collaboration is built on a foundation of mutual respect, shared vision, and a deep commitment to quality and innovation, which has led to a continued partnership with both groups.

VIBE has become synonymous with creative campaigns and community connection and the partnership with Tree1Four has been no different. To celebrate each of the cultivars and their distinctive aspects, Milo designed the creation of strain art, which serves as a visual narrative celebration of each unique cannabis cultivar they’ve developed. “Jay is a pretty humble person, so I personally made sure VIBE captured his stories and tributes to St. Louis, his family & friends, and his legacy.  There are great stories behind each of these that I love to talk about.” Explained Milo.

This innovative approach not only showcases the strains but also tells their stories, imbuing them with personal significance and broader cultural relevance. For instance, the strain “Cutiez” was named in reference to a challenging period in Wills’ life when he lost his sense of smell due to COVID-19. The only scent he could detect was that of Cuties oranges and its genetic counterpart, which also carried a citrus aroma. This backstory, illustrates the depth of thought and personal experience that informs their work, transforming the story and history behind each cultivar into a visualization.

Carvers | VIBE x Tree1Four

Wills’ deep affection and personal connection to the strain art for Carvers resonates a bit more than most. The art, in this example, holds a special significance to Wills. He explained, “I really love all the strain arts; they all hold a special place for me. But the story behind the Carvers is particularly special. It’s derived from its peanut butter lineage, being a cross of Peanut Butter Breath and Tagalongz, which itself is Peanut Butter Breath crossed with Oreoz. This strain embodies the essence of peanut butter. Struggling with a name, I discussed it with Beau, the owner of Grow Active. Knowing my affinity for St. Louis names, Beau suggested naming it after George Washington Carver, which was perfect given Carver’s association with peanut butter and Missouri. We even visited the George Washington Carver statue in the botanical gardens, which inspired the strain’s art. But this art also serves as a tribute to my mother, who passed away shortly before I launched my company. She had wanted ‘Freebird’ played at her funeral, a request I honored, and incorporating this into the art was my way of paying homage to her. Milo immediately supported the idea. So the Carvers strain and its art, sentimentally means a lot to me.”

The collaboration has yielded several notable strains, each with its own story and set of characteristics that appeal to a wide range of consumers. From the uplifting effects of “Liquid Sunshine” to the potent relaxation offered by “Mississippi Nights,” VIBE and Tree1Four have successfully introduced a diverse array of options to the market. This diversity not only caters to different preferences and needs but also reflects the comprehensive approach Wills and Milo take toward cannabis cultivation and genetics.

The strain RKO brings two of Wills’ best genetics together blending Sunset Trop and Crown Candy into an absolute beast. A production strain that hits on flavor and packs power behind it with beautiful flowers, this is a finisher that puts you lights out.

RKO | VIBE x Tree1Four

With Mississippi Nights, an ode to the original St. Louis rock club on Laclede’s Landing, the team has found an already proven forever strain. One of the first runs of Mississippi Nights was used to create hash rosin that was entered into the first Cannabis Cult Connoisseur competition for concentrates. Mississippi Nights took home first place. Mississippi Nights is as fun and heavy as the sticky floors and humid air down by the river in the shadow of the Arch.

“When we won the Cannabis Cult Rosin Belt (with Mississippi Nights), that was more important to me than the flower challenges,” explained Milo. “One, because we submitted (Jay’s) genetic, and, 2, the story behind it because of the history of the St. Louis club. But then, 3, we were challenged by some really good companies. It mattered more to me because VIBE, a St. Louis company, did it with Tree1Four’s genetic, and with a tribute to St. Louis.  We kind of won it for Jay, St. Louis, and the team at VIBE.  So it was really a team effort of: Jay’s genetic, the cultivation team led by Nick Cline, and the Live Rosin team led by Max Platt. Although it was a new competition, it mattered a great deal to us so we wear the championship belt as a badge of honor.”

Peanut Butter Parfait | VIBE x Tree1Four

Beyond the success of the individual cultivars, the partnership between Tree1Four and VIBE Cannabis is a reflection of their shared values and commitment to the cannabis community.  Milo noted, “I’ve never actually met somebody who’s had a negative thing to say about Jay. That’s how we try to carry ourselves here too at VIBE. We try to be stand-up growers, partners, and people, and to do the right things for Missourians.” This mutual respect and dedication to ethical practices have cemented their collaboration as a model for others in the industry.

The journey of Jay Wills from a passionate cannabis enthusiast to a respected figure in the industry, in partnership with VIBE Cannabis, showcases the potential for individual passion and expertise to influence and shape the broader cannabis market. Their story is not just about the creation of high-quality cannabis cultivars but also about the power of collaboration, the importance of storytelling, and the impact of returning to one’s roots to make a difference. As the cannabis industry continues to evolve, the partnership between Jay Wills, Tree1Four, and VIBE Cannabis remains a beacon of innovation, integrity, and the enduring value of personal investment and community roots in cultivating success.

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