Hop farming is exploding right now — from small community farms to individual planting pioneers. One Fort Ann, N.Y., farm is trading its dairy cows for beer hops. The farm is owned by the Goodman family, profiled by North County Public Radio’s WSKG, and as the farm is passed down to the next generation, Erica Goodman is hoping to transition from dairy to hop farming to keep her family interested in farming and capitalize on the rise of craft beer popularity.
Goodman works for the American Farmland Trust in Washington, D.C., and is one of several New York farmers looking to grow hops in the state, which has passed legislation making it easier to sustain a local hops growing operation. After successfully pitching the idea to her family, they decided to try growing hops on a half-acre. But for funding, the family turned to Kickstarter — the crowd-funding phenomenon.
“Having friends who’ve had books they’ve put together or CDs come out, and getting those requests from crowd-funding sites across the way, I thought it would be an interesting opportunity and looked into it to see if other farms were doing it.”
She set up a site, and made a video.
Erica hoped to raise $10,000.
“I kind of put the $10,000 down knowing the cost of really setting up a hop yard are pretty pricy from the start, and thinking this is going to be a tough goal to reach. But it’s really pulled in people from the woodwork of my life.”
When I first interviewed Erica a few weeks ago, she’d raised $7,800. The campaign closed last week – and they’d surpassed their goal, capping in $10,593.
While dairy farming is definitely difficult, hops farming is no small feat either. It can be an expensive investment, to say the least. Currently on Kickstarter, Osborn Brewing is calling for funds to start a sustainable hops growing operation for Ohio brewers, while Condzella Hops ended a successful fund raising campaign last month that totaled more than $30,000. But it’s not all success, as Szaro farms failed to meet its funding goal of $10,000 earlier this month. Despite booming craft beer sales, there are no guarantees.