CFAC wrapped up the 2019 Farmer Field Day series with a trip to Bell Crossing Farms on October 16th. Participants got the chance to learn about all the infrastructure needs of a hop farm operation, from trellising to processing.
Desiree and Steve Funston planted their first acre of hops back in 2017 and plan to slowly grow more over the next several years. They sell their hops to several different breweries, with some of their hops going to their local community brewery, Blacksmith Brewery, who currently has a Bell Crossing Hops Pale Ale on tap.
The field day began with a tour of the farm’s trellising system, with Desiree and Steve providing tips on what to consider when setting up your own system.
Desiree and Steve also shared with the group how to manage the hop plants over time. If not maintained throughout the season the plants can become unwieldy as they grow quickly once established.
The tour concluded with Steve and Desiree showing the group how they process the hops and prepare them to be sent to brewers. After the hops are harvested Steve and Desiree process them through a several step system in their on-site processing facility. All the hops are dried, ground, and then pelletized before being packaged.
Most breweries want hops to be in a pelletized form, as this helps the hops preserve better and makes it easier for brewers to add to the beer-making process.
The day ended at Blacksmith Brewery where participants got the chance to taste beer made with Bell Crossing Farms hops. Thanks to all who joined us this summer for the Farmer Field Day series! Check out the CFAC page to learn about more events happening this winter.