My wife, Julie, comes from an agricultural background, growing up on her family farm in Tavistock where her parents raise laying hens and broilers in addition to growing traditional field crops. After traveling, working and living in other parts of the world, Julie moved back to southern Ontario where she worked in successive careers in the automotive and food industries, more recently in the field of healthcare. Before we were married we had already decided that we wanted to live and raise our family in a small town country setting. We had only been back from our honeymoon for a few hours when we heard that a farm had come up for sale only a country block away from where Julie grew up. The minute we drove up the laneway we knew that this was the farm of our dreams and that following spring we moved out of our home in Kitchener and into our new life in agriculture.
I myself grew up in Preston Ontario (Cambridge to those not from the area). The first time I heard of “hops” was when my Grandpa told me that the lands surrounding our childhood home, were once filled with hops for the making of beer. These hops, grown in the area where the Grand River and Speed River meet, were owned and farmed for the local Rock Brewery that existed in Preston before the time of prohibition. This brewery, now long gone, once produced the “Rock Springs Lager Beer” using these local hops. Many years later, I’m reminded of this history as we reconnect with this heritage crop.
The Tavistock Hop Company began with an idea to grow something unique, something few others were doing and most importantly something we could be passionate about. That “something” we’re referring to is the resurgence of hops on Ontario farms. Hops are a perennial plant from which the flowers provide beer with both bitterness and flavour depending on the variety and use in brewing.
What started as a simple crop suggestion from a friend, home brewer and craft beer enthusiast, quickly became an obsession for us. The more we researched the viability of growing hops, the more set we were on planting our own hop yard to service the craft beer industry.
A growing number of beer enthusiasts across the continent are seeking new and exciting flavours and the craft brewers are anxious to provide their patrons with the beverages they seek. Our goal is to provide quality locally grown hops to the craft brewing industry. Our Hop Yards are located on our family farm, Brenwyn Farms. Together with my wife Julie our sons Nash and Reid, we farm alongside with our partners in hops, Jeremy and Donna Bartlett and their 3 boys Keaton, Rowan and Camden.
As we venture into our 3rd year as hop farmers we’re excited and looking forward to the 2016 growing season and “Harvesting Enjoyment!”