It should come as no surprise that I’m a hop head. I made the decision earlier this year to try my hand at growing some hops. There’s a lot of great resources online to find what grows best in specific regions and how to design a garden. Since rhizomes tend to have small yields the first year, I decided to purchase crowns from Great Lake Hops. Crowns are cut from plants over a year old and in theory should have better yields. I highly recommend Great Lake Hops because the plants I received were beautiful and packaged carefully. They even sent an extra crown free of charge!
But this post isn’t about my amateur attempt at growing hops. Instead, it’s about how I spent last Saturday. Early in the morning I took a ride up route 70 to Isaac Budd Farm in Southampton. This family owned farm sitting on 166 acres is where Mike Visgil and Sarah Puleo staked out the land for their hopyard. The carefully planned, grassroot operation has been moving along nicely with the help of friends. There’s a lot of work involved with preparing a one-third acre hopyard, but the engaged couple have decided to do it right.
Mike and Sarah have planned an all organic hopyard using debarked black locust wood as the basis for a trellis system. By the end of the day the final posts of sixty were in the ground. These will be tethered together with heavy duty steel chords that will give the vines room to climb. While they’ll have a bunch of varieties, Cascade and Nugget will be the majority of what’s planted this season.
The thought of fresh lupulin grown locally is something to get excited about. Mike told me that a majority of hops sold will be wet, but they will eventually offer dried hops. I think this is a great strategy considering wet hops represent a potential niche market. Logistically, they have to be grown locally to be used within miles of the crop. Mike and Sarah hope to distribute to local breweries as well as homebrewers. Since the couple are members of Barley Legal, I’m sure they’ll be some great homebrews to come this fall.
Thanks to Mike and Sarah for having us over and being apart of their project. The gator ride around the property was awesome too! I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated on their progress. Hopefully I’ll have some promising news on my adventures in hop growing to boot. Here’s some pics of my day at Isaac Budd Farms and my homegrown: