(OKLAHOMA CITY) September 14, 2017 -- The Oklahoma City Brewer's Guild announced the first successful hops harvest from their 16-acre Hopping to It Farm, located on the banks of the Canadian River. The hops flower is a key ingredient in beer brewing, essential for the "bittering" aroma and flavor, and also useful as a preservative.
"This harvest proves that we can compete with the Tulsa Brewer's Guild in supplying high-quality hops to our local micro-breweries and homebrewers," reports Eric Patterson, Chief Brewer of the OKC Guild. "Our local brewers will now have an economical and reliable source of hops, rather than having to pay premium prices for out-of-town hops."
The Hopping to It Farm was first planted two years ago, after a regional hop shortage caused several local breweries to go out of business. Prior to the shortage, members of the OKC Brewer's Guild had relied on the Hoppy Hunting Farm in Tulsa for hops. When the drought caused hop crop failures and reduced yields across the South and Midwest, the Tulsa Guild voted to reserve the premium hops supplies for the Tulsa brewers. Oklahoma City brewers were forced to order in some hops from Virginia and Oregon, which drove up prices due to the shipping costs.
Patterson explains, "Our farm integrates all the state of the art permacultural features expected in a modern hop farm. Trellises were created from locally grown bamboo, irrigation is by swales and rain barrels, and we even use chickens to consume the leftovers from our hop prunings. Along with hops, we will also produce honey, eggs, and eventually pecans. We have an extensive composting and mulching operation, which should help insulate our farm from any future droughts like the one that caused the last shortage."
"I couldn't be prouder," said City Councilwoman Michelle Brown. "The Hopping to It farm employs 25 people and supplies hops to over 500 members of the Brewer's Guild, as well as many amateur homebrewers. This is the kind of enterprise that keeps Oklahoma City producing it's own high-quality local products at reasonable prices, while providing good jobs to our citizens. We need more metro farms like this one."
The Hopping to It Farm is the latest in a series of infill farms in the Oklahoma City metro area. While Oklahoma City's vast acreage made transportation a challenge during the Crisis of '11 and after world oil supplies peaked in 2012, it also provided a rich source of farmland here within the city.
The first micro-farms were simply extensions of the already-existing gardens and fruit trees managed by landowners, but soon expanded when shipments of fresh produce became unreliable. Local government offered incentives to farmers to plant in schoolyards, parks, undeveloped plots, and even roadsides and medians. Consumers rushed to sign up for "shares" in the farms to secure a steady, reliable source of fresh food for their families. By 2015, almost 30% of metro households had signed up for a FEV (Fruit, egg, and veggie) share from a metro micro-farm.
Tulsa's Master Brewer Anya Trimbly commented on the announcement, "The Tulsa Brewer's Guild congratulates our sister city on her accomplishment. While we anticipate that Hoppy Hunting hops will continue to dominate the regional market, we sincerely hope Oklahoma City's Hopping to It farm will have years of successful harvests."