HOPS: Opportunity For An Aleing Economy?

By Francine St.Amand

Kathryn and Nick Southan, from Wicklow

Kathryn and Nick Southan, from Wicklow, are in their third year of HOP farming. Staff at the Agricultural Research Station, describe the Southans as having the most expertise in HOPS production in the Maritimes. Nick, who is taking time to attend this event during an extremely busy time on his farm, will present information about the factors which prompted him and his wife to get into the business, the start-up costs and the REAL pros and cons of this sector. Visit Southan Farms on the web here

HOPS is one of those niche agricultural crops that is showing up more and more in NB’s rural landscape. When Joe Gee started up a vineyard on his farm in Carlingford last year, I realized that HOPS cultivation was something I wanted to learn more about. The only experience I had with HOPS was growing it to cover a snow fence many years ago. With the rise of micro/nano breweries, craft beer and the grow/shop local movements, could HOPS be an agricultural crop with a future in New Brunswick??
 
Perth-Andover Community Conversations is hosting an information sharing event on June 25 to tackle that very question. The evening event will be from 7-9pm and held in the Community Room on School Street in Andover (upstairs in the swimming pool building).
 

Joe Gee “planting” posts for this year’s HOPS on his farm in Carlingford. Joe is in his 2nd year of this project. In addition to his story of how he got into HOPS, Joe will present botanical information about the HOPS plant and its various uses ( yes, in addition to making beer).

Joe Gee “planting” posts for this year’s HOPS on his farm in Carlingford. Joe is in his 2nd year of this project. In addition to his story of how he got into HOPS, Joe will present botanical information about the HOPS plant and its various uses ( yes, in addition to making beer).

In speaking with personnel at the Agricultural Research Station (Experimental Farm) in Fredericton, growing hops has not been the subject of their experimentation – so far. Claude Bethélémé – Organic & Vegetable Specialist as well as Gerry Chevrier –Regional Director, both said that HOPS could become a research subject pending demand. They both affirmed that, for now, the research and experimentation is being carried out by people on the ground and Victoria County is home to a number of these daring folks.
 

The HOPS conversation on June 25 will include three presenters who will each share their unique viewpoints based on their own experiences. So whether you are just a bit curious or considering getting into HOPS as a business venture yourself, you will leave that session better informed about a subject that is emerging as a hopeful rural revitalization opportunity.
 

Mitch Biggar will talk about the local grower

Mitch Biggar will talk about the local grower/ brewer connection. Mitch first pitched his idea of starting up a nano-brewery to the Florenceville-Bristol Village Council in February 2013. His business plan has emerged into the Railcar Brewing Company located in Bristol. The Grand Opening Week is Aug 10- 16.

During the first hour (more or less), the three speakers will share their information. An interactive discussion with the audience will follow for the remainder of the two-hour session.
 

So please come and show support to these young entrepreneurs that are working hard to make a difference in our local economy. AND, you may just end up planting some beautiful hop vines on your property to cover up a snow fence or other structures that need a bit of TLC.

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