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.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Farm Tours Come To A Close For The Year On A Soggy Note

Van Burnette tags a monarch butterfly
The past two weeks have been very busy for the farm and were a great way to end the 2012 tour season.  On Sept. 22 and 23 we hosted the ASAP Family Farm tour.  Around 120 people visited the farm where non stop tours were given by Van for both days.  It is rather grueling but hopefully people learned a lot about what all we do here on the farm.

Hops, as always, seemed to demand the most attention for the Farm Tour.  We also seemed to raise awareness for the importance of creating and maintaining native bee pollinator habitats and with our native blueberry study.  We also tagged a couple of monarch butterflies that were passing through.

The major tagging event for the monarch butterflies was reserved for the next weekend, Sept. 29 and our last official tour of the season.  Around 60 people showed up for this free event.  Folks started gathering early and so did the clouds.

The rain started during the release
 I managed to tag three monarchs and let the kids and adults release them after we taught the butterflies a few crucial words in Spanish.  Not all of the butterflies we eager to fly off as the one seen below seemed to wanted to stay on this young ladies hair.

All in all it was a good year, but we hope next year will be even better and hope to sponsor many fun events and have great Saturday tours with lots of folks.  The last shot seems to be a good ending for this blog.  You can just make out a monarch flying south after being tagged, saying goodbye to the farm.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wet Hop Beer From The Native Ground Brewery

Earlier in the season, I held a few sessions of "work for learning" at the farm.  I had some home brewers and potential commercial brewers come out to the farm and learn the art and the pains of growing hops with dirt in the fingernails learning.  The rewards are the learning experience and hops from the vine.

Two volunteers from Columbia, SC. came up and helped out quite a bit.  Lee Snelgrove and John Codega were two of those folks.  Lee actually came up again and help at the filming for the UNC-TV show, "NC Weekend" which aired two weeks ago and featured the farm. 

Lee took back some fresh hops a few weeks prior and he and John created a fresh hop beer, the one shown above and sent it to me.  Their hope is to start up "Native Ground Brewing" in Columbia.  After tasting this, the best wet hop beer I have ever had, I am sure that they are going to do well.

  Their label is so funny.  It is from a picture I took of myself, a take off of the Dos Equis ad on TV, "The Most Interesting Man in the World". Good luck yall.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Highlands Brewing and Monarchs

How in the world does the title of this blog have anything in common.  Well if it is my farm, the Hop'n Blueberry Farm, then the answer is obvious if you know anything about us.  The title relates to two of our most popular products, hops and butterflies.

Highland Brewing Company, Western North Carolina most prominent and successful brewery, is getting ready to release their newest seasonal premium beer.  One that was made with hops from our farm.  It should be available to folks next week.  Be sure to check with Highlands to get the release date for sure. 

The hops were picked fresh by yours truly and help from Grant DaSantos, the tasting room manager, and John Lyda, the head brewer, three weeks ago and added to John's secret recipe.  If it is anything like Highlands last local hop beer, made from my friend Josh Smith of OB Joyful Hops Farm, then it is going to be a most tasty treat! 

Now on the other part of the title.  These are the first pictures of the young babies, or eggs, that will develop into the butterflies going to Mexico. These Monarch eggs, we have over 300 of them,  are scheduled to fly in about 5 weeks to Mexico.

We are the only place in America that teaches our Monarchs to speak Spanish.  Be sure to keep up with our tagging day to come in late September.  As a matter of fact, we are already tagging Monarchs on the farm, just in case there is a early departure this year.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Seven Pound Hop Cone Plant?

Believe it or not, it is possible that one single planting of a cascade plant that I planted at Highland Brewing Company has produced seven pounds of wet hops, far out producing two other vines that only produced two pounds each!!  Just TWO POUNDS EACH!!  Wow!!!!
This secret is gonna cost ya!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Farm Video

We have just completed a great two week season of monarch reproduction at the farm.  There are more than 60 butterflies in the flighthouse with the majority being monarchs.
Look at this video for a brief visit.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

UNC-TV Films At The Farm And The Hop Harvest Tour

John Litschke film Van Burnette

John Litschke of J. Martin Productions recently filmed our farm for a segment on the popular UNC-TV show, North Carolina Weekend.  John, along with videographer Adam Foster spent most of the day shooting for the upcoming show that should air around mid-September.

They interviewed my wife Martha and several other people that showed up for a tour of the farm that day.  There were young children, teenagers, and adults alike that were ask to be a part of the process in front of the camera.
Martha Howell Burnette gets in the spotlight

This is the second time in a month or so that the Hop'n Blueberry Farm has been featured on camera.  We are hoping for the best results with increased awareness for our farm and for future tours.
Shannon Hunt watches her son get interviewed

2nd Annual Hop Harvest Tour

This year we had a good crowd of enthusiastic folks show up for the tour.  Everyone on them were tuned in and all wanted to know more than any other group that I have ever dealt with in terms of learning about growing hops.

We had some big cones and full vines to show off to the crowd and I had the yard in good "show" shape.  I honestly think that this crowd this year was more interested in seeing and touching the hops than drinking them. 

But, when the drinking light was turned on, the samples flowed freely once again from Pisgah Brewing Company newest rendition of the now famous "Burnette's Fresh Hop" beer.  This years recipe is probably the best in 4 years.  I was able to spice up the batch with Josh Smith's OB Joyful Hopfarms chinook hops this year.   His addition really made a difference in the taste.

Are we planning another?  Maybe, we will see in a few days, so better not wait, get on down to a Pisgah beer venue and try it out.  It will only last another week or so.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hop Harvest Tour And Sampling

The Hop’n Blueberry Farm in Black Mountain NC is announcing its 2nd annual Hop Harvest Tour and Sampling. This event will be held at the farm on July 21, 2012 and will feature the farm’s hop operation where participants can see hops and how they are grown. Then you will be able to sample how their hops actually taste in a newly released beer from Pisgah Brewing Company brewed from hops produced from their farm.
The Hop'n Blueberry Farm is one of the first farms in North Carolina to produce hops commercially and has become well known for their participation in providing hops to the local and thriving craft beer industry in the Asheville, NC area. They have been featured in many publications both locally and nationally including the Wall Street Journal. They have also been featured on television and soon at the Sundance Film Festival as part of a documentary on the craft beer industry.
Four years ago, they partnered with Pisgah Brewing Company for their production of the truly unique "wet" or "fresh hop" beer. A fresh hop beer is made from hops picked fresh off the vines at Van Burnette's farm and are added to the boil within minutes after the pick. His farm is only 5 miles from Pisgah Brewing Company, so it is as fresh and local as it gets. This differs from traditional beers where hops picked and dried months before they are distributed to breweries coming all the way from the Northwest coast of the US.
The event will feature a sampling of "Burnette's Fresh Hop" beer after the tour of the hop yard. The beer will not last long, so this is a unique opportunity to see and smell hops on the vine, and then taste a very aromatic fresh hop beer in the glass. This year OB Joyful Hop Farm in Arden, NC has added their tasty Chinook hops to the brew as well. After the tour, participants can travel a short distance to Pisgah Brewing Company where they can visit and taste more of this beer or any of their other great products.
Tickets are only $8 and can be purchased at the farm on the day of the event. Cash only. The tour starts at 1 p.m. and will last until 2:30 p.m. when folks are invited to Pisgah Brewing Company to buy more of their other tasty taps.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

"Burnette's Fresh Hop Beer Is Coming to Pisgah Brewing

Cascade hops
Not all of our hops were harvested last Monday, June 25, but enough were added along with my friend Josh of OB Joyful Farm Hops, who also added the last of his Chinook's to the boil. 

To form a "fresh hopped beer", or "wet hopped beer" the hops have to be harvested and added to the boil within 12 hours for optimum flavor. This is Pisgah Brewing's 3rd year of producing this beer, called "Burnettes Fresh Hop Beer", from my hops and, in the past two years a couple of other Western North Carolina hop growers have added to it.

Last year Blue Ridge Hops added their organic hops to the brew and it was a smashing success as Pisgah where they increased the addition of 5 more pounds of fresh hops.  This year, OB Joyful added their flavor of Chinooks to the boil. 
Nugget hops
 I sampled this beer yesterday from the fermentation tank and let me tell you---IT IS GOOD!  Hats off to their head brewer Ryan.  Next week or so it will be released.  Be there in line, it will not last more than two weeks!  No where else in the Asheville area will you be able to taste a "wet hopped" beer, except at Highlands Brewery where they are experimenting with their first batch of this one of a kind process.

Our annual Hop Harvest tour is tentatively scheduled for July 21 at 1pm.  Here you will be able to sample the beer from Pisgah and learn about growing hops.  Later, I will direct you to Pisgah Brewing Company to sample more of their products.

We are putting in another batch of fresh hops in about two weeks.  I will be adding Blue Ridge Hops and hops from the NCSU Experimental Research Station in Arden to Pisgah to put in their next batch of "Burnettes Fresh Hop Beer".

Be sure to keep up with all of the upcoming local hops additions to our vibrant Western North Carolina beer industry!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Butterflies and Babes

Check out the facebook link to see what was happening today on the farm.  It was a quiet day, low physical, but lots of activity.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

"Crafing A Nation" Documentary Film Crew Here

Courtney Cobb rigs up the mike on Van Burnette
It was a beautiful crisp spring day, just right for the film crew of Crafting A Nation to come out and interview me for their upcoming film about the economic impact of the craft beer industry in America.  The crew is currently in Asheville filming for a few days and came out to add a segment to the film about local hop production.

The film is directed by Tom Kolicko out of the Denver Colorado area where he has already produced a fine documentary called "Beer Culture The Movie".  You can get a look at their facebook page here!/beerculturemovie  also you can check out the progress of their new movie "Crafting A Nation" on Facebook as well.

After watching their first movie, I am proud to be a part their fine filming skills. These guys are also going to get this film into such venues as the Sundance Film Festival and the New York Film Festival as well as video markets such as NetFlix.  It will be great publicity regardless for our local beer industry and for our local grown farms movement.

The crew sets up their next scene
I presented a good plug to North Carolina State University Extension Service, ASAP, and to Pisgah Brewing Company during the interview as well as the research and work that we do on the farm. This film should give a great boost to publicizing all that is going on here in this part of North Carolina. Hopefully it will be a good shot for our tours on the farm also.

What did they ask?  Well, let me just say, you don't have to ask Van Burnette much to get him talking.  They soon realized that the most important thing to ask me is "When are you going to be shutup?"  All kidding aside, we talked mainly about creating a new crop that creates a symbiotic relationship with a new emerging industry here and nation wide.  It was a lot of fun and I wish much success for them.

My good friend Tony Mackley and volunteer Lee Snelgrove from Columbia, SC got up at 7 am. on Saturday to come out for the shoot.  They played the part that they do best, working behind the star.  Really though, they sure helped get the farm looking great and were in the background working as they filmed.

I will keep up to date as the year progresses on this project.  Meet the crew below.
Videographers Brendan Harris and Noa Mittman, Producer Courtney Cobb, Director, Writer, Producer Thomas Kolicko, Star Van Burnette, and Producer Deana Macdonald

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Huge Success Of Volunteer's Work

Top Gun Volunteer Crew, Lee, Tony, and John
It is often hard to believe how much work it takes to run a farm, especially when the only field hands I have on the farm are my right and left hands.  Today, other than my steady good friend Tony, who has logged more hours on my farm than Andy Griffith Show repeats, I was astonished to get two enthusiastic worker from Columbia South Carolina.

Lee Snelgrove and John Codega are avid home brewers and potential commercial brewers who responded to a facebook invite to any home brewer that wanted to come out to the farm and learn all there is to growing hops while getting their hands dirty.  They did just that and are scheduled to come out tomorrow as well, depending on their ability to iron out some muscles and avoid some potential rain. 

How a row of hops looked before pruning
The above photo is how one of my 8 rows of hops looked before the never ending pruning and weeding that must be done every week if you have the time.  I obviously don't. (Could it be that there is a dozen other never ending jobs?)

  And this "after" shot, shows what every hop yard ought to look like!  How can I thank these guys for getting half of my rows done today. 

A documentary film crew is scheduled to arrive at the farm Saturday and hops are the focus.   Thanks Tony, Lee, and John for all the help to make things look right.
Field boss with volunteer crew

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

New Video Featuring The Hop'n Blueberry Farm

Susanne Hackett and video producer Chris Gallaway came out to the farm to film my farm in a portion of the new promotional video for the Buncombe County Greenways.  This is an excellent short video and I am very proud just to be part of it. 

This week there is more filming news here on the farm.  I will post up some information on this in the following days.  A documentary film crew has been filming here in the Asheville area and will be highlighting my farm.  Hint it is big and it is about beer!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tours Have Begun At The Farm.

Tours have officially begun at the Hop'n Blueberry Farm today.  We have a limited number of Monarchs right now because of the April freeze that also severely damaged our blueberries and Monarch caterpillars.  Good news is that they are reproducing and more are on the way.  We do have 5 other native species of butterflies in the flight house now as well.

Flowers are coming in and many new species of wild flowers have been added to the farm this year.  We are also moving into our development and education to for the establishment of habitats for native pollinators.  Many other exciting things are happening on the farm as well.

We have hops that are blooming and baby cones forming, we have ample milkweed, we have a limited number of blueberries (also due to the freeze) and of course we have plenty of exciting tours awaiting those that want to learn about everything from native pollinators to alternative energy. 

Come visit at our regular tour times on Saturdays at 12 noon and 2 pm or schedule a different time.  We can accommodate groups, including schools, day camps, reunions, group picnics and lots more.  Don't forget that we also sponsor Special hop tours and workshops as well as on hand experience in the hop yard. These events can be scheduled during the season.

Get in contact with us.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Heavy Working Volunteers Invade The Farm Today

If there is one thing I can say about how hard it is to farm by yourself, especially in the ripe ages of 60, it is that when you can beg enough to gain a sympathetic ear and people respond, YOU LISTEN!  Which is exactly what happened today. 

Matt McComish, a young aspiring professional Vermont Brewer, and Tony Mackley, ole buddy from the 70's who's eager help here on the farm and homestead has been steadfast and brilliant without reward, came out today for a marathon of old fashion hard manual labor! 

It was Matt's second visit and Tony's untold work days here at the farm, and I put them to the limit of some of the most back-breaking work that I needed here at the Hop'n Blueberry Farm--  The physical transport of thousands of pounds of mulch onto several traveled miles of  hand transported wheelbarrowed and shoveled material.

In the above photo, the boys are standing in the remains of a 5 foot tall mound of pine mulch.  Me, I was barely able to hold my camera up to take the picture.  (Notice in the background, there is another bigger pile of mulch!)  Wow, how much labor, how much time!

Matt, who came to me from a post on facebook by Susanne Hackett,  the owner of Pollinate Collaborations who is now doing a fantastic job marketing for the Buncombe County Greenways.  She also  works at The Wedge Brewery. When Matt saw this post posted on the Wedge Brewing, his one minute response got him out here two days later!  Wow, I am a believer!

Before I leave this post, I would like to say something more about Matt.  This guy has come out to work at the farm now twice.  Both times he RODE HIS BICYCLE OUT HERE FROM ASHEVILLE!  What about that?? 

And one last plug for my ole friend Tony, or "Mack" as I call him.  This guy is as young as me, but still begs for as much physical labor as I can dish out, or at least as we think before tomorrow!~

This is the last pic of what needs to be done for my hops, it is called pruning, pruning, and more pruning.  Look at me smug face after Matt and I spent 40 minutes pruning one 60 foot row of hops!  The left side is done, the right side beckons only after two weeks of the last visit.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Carolina Butterfly Society Tours the Farm

Saturday, members of the Carolina Butterfly Society paid the farm a visit as part of their mountain tour.  It was a brief visit, and they were busy looking for butterflies the whole time.  Unfortunately, there were very few to see. 

Dennis Burnette, first on the left, it comes to be, is a fourth cousin of mine.  I think he felt the pull of the family as he wandered on the farm which is located just 1.3 miles from where our ancestors first settled these mountain in 1797.

Most agreed that a summer time visit during the height of butterfly and flowering season would be a great thing to do.  I suggested July, the peak time for butterflies at the farm.

Notice the milk(weed) maiden in the photo

Meanwhile, I am nurturing six, I repeat only six, monarch cats from a very weak showing of monarchs returning from Mexico to lay eggs on my milkweed patch this year.  I only counted two females laying eggs around April 4.  It is widely thought that the monarchs outran the emerging milkweed due to prevailing winds and warm temperatures.

I was lucky to find those six 1/8 inch long caterpillars.  The hard freeze that wiped out my blueberries and damaged my hops was also responsible for killing the early hatched caterpillars.  Hopefully, these six will be the start of many more to come this summer.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

More Storms Hit the Farm

Watch this short clip of the first of 4 waves of thunderstorms, wind, and hail to hit our farm today.  The weather has continued to destroy hop vines and what few blueberry blooms are left on the farm. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dig Into Local

We just got back from the Dig Into Local event at the farmers market in Asheville.  The event is in only it's second year and features local farms and their products.  It is a great venue for farms to get their names out there.
In our booth we were selling native blueberries and pushing the idea of creating native pollination habitats.  Of course we talked about hops and butterflies as well.
Hopefully next year there will be a bigger crowd of folks and the event will become a success for all involved including NC Farm Fresh, and Got to be NC Agriculture who sponsored most of the event.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Storm Damage

Another powerful, short lived thunderstorm hit my farm today. 45 MPH winds blew in with such fury that I could not open my eyes, then the heavy pounding rain along with plenty of hail, put the final insult to my hops by breaking vines and more tip loss from hail.
This was just after I, and my faithful farm hand Pat, had just finished an excruciating 12 hour marathon of weeding then clipping and stinging another row of hops to the twine. If you ever had a romantic notion of growing hops, I hope you are reading my blog!
I did manage to get a photo of Pat just after a 10 hour job in the hop yard below. Notice how the vines secret oils that discolor poor Pat's fingers. (Oh, in case you didn't know, I have two field hands. The other one's name is Charlie, my right hand!!)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Freeze On The Farm

This shot of on of my flame azalea's says it all. The warm spell we have been experiencing has finally come to an end and reality has set in. After a month of temperatures 10 degrees or more above average, freezing temperatures once again invaded the region. This is not, and I repeat, not uncommon. ( clicking on any picture will produce a larger image)Another member of the azalea family that was hit hard on our farm was our blueberries. All 300 bushes were in full bloom and receiving ample pollination from our native bees such as the mason bee, the sweat bee, the true bumble bee, and the minor bees. It appears now that this freeze has severely damaged this years crop.
Now it is time to look at what exactly a hard wind and freeze will do to cold hardy hops, or so I thought. The wind just so happened to coincide with my first stringing of my vines. It relentlessly blew up to 35 mph. for two days breaking the tender vines and shaking them loose from the twine. The above photo shows vines broken and laying on the ground.
To top it all off, the next blow to the tender ladies on the vine was a temperature drop down to 29 degrees. Although most of the leaves were not bothered, the tender vine tips were frozen, rendering the growth of that vine prohibitive.
If vines are broken or the tips damaged, that vine will cease to grow vertically, causing the vine to branch into two vines below the damaged area. These vines do not produce as much, putting undo stress on the plant.
Finally as shot of wind and freeze damage taken today, Thursday April 12. All is not over. It is expected to get below freezing again tonight. No doubt, many of my hops will be starting late on the twine operation. We can now at least see, if a delayed vine will produce more hops, causing them to bloom later. In my opinion, I don't think so. Time will tell.
The life of a farmer is totally dependent on the one thing we cannot control, the weather!