by Jennifer Schack
Foundation hopes to try other varieties of hops, educate farmers about crop and share equipment needed.
Prior to prohibition, hops were once an agricultural staple in the region. Valley View Hops is trying to bring back the crop. They planted hundreds of vines in 2014, on a 1-acre plot at Valley View Farm in Milford.
The crop was not ready for selling the first year, but this season, they are expecting a 60 percent yield in the crop and are planning to sell the hops for the first time.
Doug Bulla is one of the Valley View Hops organizers who tends the vines.
“These hops grew without any herbicides or pesticides and I’d put them up against any in the country,” Bull said.
They planted 14 varieties of hops, and they will mature over the next three months. Some have already peaked and will be harvested in the first-ever crop this weekend.
“The plan is to sell all the hops to locals” said Bulla.
Since it is a second-year crop, they have not contracted out the hops to buyers, instead the hops will be available to anyone, a brewery or an individual. This year, they hope to yield 300-400 pounds of hops by the end of the season. Next year, the group expects to have a full crop.
The hops vines are perennials. According to Bulla, they chop down the vine to harvest them and each year they will grow back up the 21-foot trellis.
Picking the hops is often the hardest part of starting the crop.
“Trying to hand pick an entire acre of hops is nearly impossible,” said Bulla.
And according to Bulla it’s the equipment that is often the barrier for farmers, but he is trying to ease that concern.
As part of the Valley View Hops, and their hope to educate farmers and encourage the crop, they are also making available their machine that harvests the vines. Purchased from Poland, the machine separates the vines and leaves from the hops.
The foundation hopes to try other varieties of hops, educate farmers about the crop and share the equipment needed.
Once harvested, the hops will be available to anyone–brewery or individual.
Money raised will go back to the foundation.