Tuesday, July 23, 2013


4th Annual Hop Harvest Tour At The Hop’n Blueberry Farm



Cascade Hops
This year, the annual Hop Harvest Tour at the Hop’n Blueberry Farm is proud to partner with Lookout Brewery in Black Mountain to highlight their hops in a locally produced "fresh hop" beer. The tour is scheduled for August 3, 2013 at 1pm.



Hop pickers Tony Mackley and Owen Grooms

For the past five years the farm, one of the first in North Carolina to produce hops commercially, has gained national recognition as a supplier of local grown hops for the breweries of Western North Carolina and the Southeast. Because of this, owner Van Burnette created the Tour to show people how hops are grown and what they look and and smell like.

His tour offers a unique first hand perspective to potential commercial and home hop growers. And, to top off the end of the educational aspect, they will be offered a sampling of beer made from his hops by Lookout Brewing in Black Mtn., NC. This is just the beginning of the second half of this event.
This year Van teamed up with the owner of Lookout, John Garcia, to produce one of the very first truly local and fresh beers in the country. Van and his crew picked the hops early in the morning when they were at their peak of perfection and dropped them off to Lookout Brewery, just 3.5 miles down the road where they were added to the "boil" immediately.

This was all so carefully orchestrated so that a true "fresh hop" beer could be produced. This is a rare occasion for an "Eastern beer" because to have a fresh hop beer, the hop must be picked and added to the beer within 12 hours.

Meanwhile, John got his recipe ready and left town to gather the rest of the North Carolina produced ingredients including malt from Riverbend Malt, a locally produced malt from barely grown near Salisbury.

When it all came together, with water drawn from the wells of Black Mountain, a beer like no other began it’s process of fermentation to produce a product made fresher than anyone could ever hope for in the country. A "Fresh Hop" beer.

Van will offer a sampling of this beer to show off the aspects of this spectacular beer and then the tour will be directed to Lookout Brewery around 2:30pm., where John will show everyone just how all of these ingredients are added into the brewing process. Folks will get an up close and personal feel of the brewery and see and smell the process of beer being made.

More of his specially produced products can be purchased after his tour of the brewery. With out a doubt, the folks will be able to understand why his brewery has become the "talk of the town"!

Tickets are $10/person and may be purchased at the farm on the day of the event.  For directions to the farm, see our webpage at www.hopnblueberryfarm.com


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Our Harvest Of Cascade Hops and The Cycle To Farm Tour

Owen Grooms and Tony Mackley
 My much needed helpers got our Cascade hop harvest in full gear this morning at 6AM..  Most people don't realize that 6 O'clock happens twice a day!  Here is a picture of Owen Grooms and Tony Mackley eagerly helping out at this time of day?  You gotta love it. 
This was our best year yet, regardless of wet conditions and disease problems which I predicted 6 years ago.  I am still a firm believer that if this crop is to work in NC. then we have to develop varieties that can survive our short days and wet conditions.  Otherwise, have a lot of friends that like beer and like to work--think about that one, or be prepared to make $2.00/hour--about the most conservative amount I could come up with-- not even discounting my labor, what farmer really does.
Owen Grooms, my hops partner in the crime of "grooming hops" this year, examines the next hop to pick, only the best are selected.
 We only picked the cream of the crop this year, still we got on average 1/2 pound more than in the previous 5 years.  A whopping 1+pound per vine grouping.  But, we  should be looking at 2 to 3 pounds of wet hops at this time given the right conditions needed to successfully grow hops. 

 I am sitting next to 15 pounds of wet hops, part of a 20 pound total.  This batch is going a local brewery to experiment with  We are sending them 20 pounds.  I will disclose this brilliant well established brewery in two weeks. I have been associated with them for while and appreciate their move to try brewing with wet hops. 
  Our first pick went to our newest and truly most local brewing company, Lookout Brewery located in Black Mountain.  They received our first fresh hops earlier this week. 
We are happy to hook up with them and other local breweries that are interested in brewing local beers.  Because of Lookouts good tasting brews and their commitment to dealing with local products like hops (mine from 4 miles away), Riverbend Malt  (based out of Asheville), and water from the deep wells of Black Mountain, I can think of no other fresher beer made in America.  Talk about a low carbon footprint!
Tony Mackely sits in front of 21 pounds of wet Cascade Hops

It's like a bag of gold!
Be sure to check out the Black Mountain Newspaper this coming week, Thursday July 24.  They are featuring our farm and Lookout Brewery and will have more on our Hop Harvest Tour,August 3, 2013..We will start our tour at the farm at 1 PM.  Learn about hops and see them on the vine and then sample the fruit of the vine fresh form Lookout Brewery.  After the farm tour, continue your tour to the Brewery itself.   Their John Garcia will lead a tour of his brewery and of course enjoy his wide selection of their other products from the tap.  Be sure to follow up with this on our Facebook page, the "Hop'n Blueberrry Farm" and the "Lookout Brewery".

My pride and joy, Cascade mommas
Now, before I forget, which I wouldn't of course, I would like to mention a great event taking place at our farm this year.  We are so pleased to be a part of the Cycle To Farm Tour, this Saturday, July 20.  It is our first invite to this great event that raises money for the Buncombe County Greenways here in Black Mountain. We are gearing up for this event and are especially proud that the Center For Food Safety has chosen to set up here on the farm as well.  Wow!  What a week.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hops and Blueberries

With the help of Owen, my new hops manager, we have finally finished our third pruning and weeding.  Why would anyone ever want to grow this never ending problematic crop?  Good tasting beer is the only reason.  I would estimate on my 4 rows of hops alone, we spent a total of 40 hours pruning and weeding this time creating a mound of weeds and hops leaves and vines from 40 wheel barrows of waste!
But my, don't they look nice for a week!


 

Oh well, already, we have started on the 5th prune and should start our first harvest sometime next week.  Be sure to stay up with us if you want hops for your home brewing starting sometime in late July.  And this year, we are anxious about supplying Black Mountains newest brewery, Lookout Brewery with hops for their beer.  Look out for that.  They have already produced a beer from our hops and it was one of their best.  Why wouldn't it be?

Ok, now on to blueberries.  We have em.
This is our first full year of production and they are big and juicy, well worth the wait.  I wasn't going to open up the farm for U-Pick this year, but I can't seem to keep up with them, so their is a possibility that some folks could get the chance to pick.  Just call us and let's see it we can work out a time.  Otherwise, I am still holding off until 2015, or maybe just until next year, who knows. 
blueberry cream cheese cake!
 
 MMmmmmmmm good!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Vote In The "Best of WNC"

There is a great opportunity for the farm to get some focus on us.  It is Mountain Express magazines "Best Of WNC".  In this survey, you can vote on things like your favorite restaurant or swimming hole.  One category, "Favorite Farm to Visit" is especially important for our farm.  Please vote for us there and there are other categories like most sustainable business where you could vote for us as well.

Here is the link:
 http://vote.bestofwnc.com/388241

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Hops On The Vine--Finally!

Nuggets on the twine, hop stain on the hand
It has been a really chilly spring so far.  Lucky for me and my hops and blueberries. For one thing, it has slowed growth and allowed me to get out there and prune up my vines and select the ones to grow.  This time last year, it would have been a tremendous mess to get in there and do that.  Just in the past few days, growth is now at the six inch a day stage. 

I am selecting just three vines this year to grow.  Last year I experimented with allowing 5 or more grow and found no benefits to the production.  I am also not cutting back my vines to the ground.  Two and three years ago I also experimented cutting all vines back some plants within the rows when they reached two feet or more to see if that would stimulate later cone production.  I found no later cone production and no increase in harvest.

All of my experiments were carried out within the rows of different varieties leaving some untouched and some altered.  It is my firm belief that our main problem in cone production is the day lengths associated with our southern most latitude.  I would love to experiment with night lights to see if there might be a change.  More about that later.

I have noticed this year a tiny (1/8 inch) fly or wasp? on the tips of my vines.
Tiny sucker
This insect is usually seen on the tips of the vine and all of those tips don't particularly seem healthy looking.  I have sent in photos to the insect folks at NCSU and hope to hear back from them soon.  They attach themselves with a long pointed mouth part and don't move when you pull them off.

Highbush blueberry blooms
This is the first year that I am letting my blueberries go into full production.  In the past three years I have been pruning the blooms off to allow better root production.  They are loaded with blooms but I have seen a decline in native pollinators.  Did you know that blueberries are only pollinated by native bees such as the bumble bee? 

Don't be confused though.  There are lots of carpenter bees out there on them that look like a honey bee.  These devils are nectar thieves and do not pollinate.  Note below
 See the holes in the bottom of the bloom?  The carpenter bee will drill that hole in the base and suck out the nectar, never entering the top of the flower where the stamens and pistils are therefore not passing on the pollen to create the fruit.  Honey bees will use those same holes to steal the nectar.  They are not pollinators either.

I am hoping to open the U-Pick up next year, stay tuned for that.  We are also going to try some rabbiteye varieties this year.  I am just about 200 feet above where they are safe to grow, but I feel I should be OK.  We will see.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Learn How to Grow Hops

 
 
 
 
It's been a while since our last post and a long winter here on the farm, but due to some extraordinary warm weather, 84 degrees here today, we have had things going crazy to catch up in time for our April 13, Saturday event, "Learn How To Grow Hops" at the Hop'n Blueberry Farm.
 
It will be an great time to see first hand in the field what it takes to grow hops.  We have all of the visuals necessary for potential growers to learn techniques to successfully start hops from the ground up.
 
This Saturday the event starts at 1pm. with your host Van Burnette.  You will see how the beds are prepared and see one being started.  You will see how to select and prune your vines to grow.  You can witness Van's unique trellis system and see how the twine is placed on the cable down to the hop vine.
 
No questions will be unanswered and everyone is invited to go over to Pisgah Brewing Company afterwards for tasting and more touring of the Brewery.  Don't miss this hopping good opportunity to learn about the much talked about vine with the cones of flavor. 
 
Cost is $10/person. For more info call us at 828-664-1166.
 
 


Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Farm Featured on UNC-TV

I wanted to share with you this recent publicity we got from producer John Litschke who produced a segment on our for the popular UNC-TV show, "NC Weekend"
It was aired Sept. 6, 2012.  He did a great job with our farm and I am honored that our farm was featured. 

Here is the site, we are the first segment of the show.

Watch September 6, 2012 on PBS. See more from NC Weekend.