After 3 months of talking, reading, decision making and hard physical labor, we finally have one of our three hops poles standing on our hops plot. It has been an interesting journey and now is a good time to stop and document our actions thus far so we can look back and learn and make good decisions in the future.
In March of this year, Howard and I decided to try growing hops on our little 7 acre meadow at the back of our farm located in Scottville, Michigan. This meadow is a unique triangular shaped parcel of land bordered by a Black creek to the north east, a quaking bog forest to the west and a neighboring farm to the south. This land is inaccessible without the use of a wooden bridge built over 20 years ago by my father who was looking to expand his wheat farm back in the 1980s and needed to be able to drive a large combine to the crop at harvest time.
During the past 13 years this land has remained untouched by any farm implements. None of the farmers to whom we have rented the rest of our farm land have had any interest in risking their equipment loads on this little bridge over Black Creek. Several ideas of what to do with the parcel have "cropped" up over the years, such as a garden or a feeding plot for deer, or a grove of walnut trees. But none seemed to move us as much as the idea of a hops plot. We had visited a hops farm during our trip to Germany in 2003...
....and we were so intrigued by the massive height of these vines. With the numerous microbreweries popping up all over Michigan and Howard's own interest in brewing beer, hops growing just sounded like such a unique idea. We had never heard of anyone growing them in Michigan so we decided to embark on this journey.