COMMUNITY BREW: PLANTING & SPROUTING
Community is one of those concepts that can seem so simple on the surface, but when pushed deeper, can begin to unravel in different ways. A community can take on many forms: it can occupy a physical space, it can spring from the ideas of like-minded individuals, it can form around universalizing feelings of love, interest, and even hate. Whatever the specifics may be, a community always includes the act of individuals coming together around a shared experience.
Throughout history, taverns, public houses, and breweries have played important roles within communities by providing a shared, common, democratizing space for individuals to gather. Communities gathered in these spaces, usually due to sheer proximity, discussing aspects of shared experience in their day-to-day lives, whether it be the weather, politics, or recounting the recent tragic fire down the road at the candlestick maker’s.
In our own times, it is increasingly easy for people to take an inward turn, for people to experience things on an individual basis. Many people nowadays experience the feeling of community online. People have instant access to their communities at their fingertips, and often choose to focus their attention to their phones or tablets, even when occupying a shared space like a bar, coffee shop, or brewery. There is nothing wrong with this; people can choose to spend their time how they like. However, there is a reason why these types of spaces are institutions in our society. Shared public spaces have stood the test of time because they allow access to a deep sense of community, whether you have your phone in hand or not. There is undeniably a serene, simple joy found in shared experience.
Community Brew is something that provides access to this deep-rooted feeling. Here we are, at the beginning of this project, about to take on the task of planting, maintaining, and harvesting backyard hops. At the end of the season, we will bring the products of our labour together, to brew a beer that each and every individual, neighbor, or family contributed something to. Over the next few months, our backyards will become an access point to our Community Brew. Everyone who has a hop plant in their yard will be sharing each stage with you along the way, planting, watering, and pruning from their own yards. And is there really a better final result for the toils of our labour? A crisp, cold, refreshing beer that you yourself helped brew – I mean, come on!
In order to give back to our community, ALL proceeds from every hop plant sold at the brewery go to Autism Behavioural Services. The ABS is an incredible organization, which works extremely hard to help their children cultivate skills they require in order to grow with self-determination, self-worth, and independence.
Stage 1: Planting & Sprouting
- Hops are hardy plants that are relatively easy to grow at home. There are a few basic things you need to know before planting your hop plant and beginning the journey of Community Brew.
Before You Plant:
- Give your hop plant plenty of space
- Hop plants can grow fast, have the capacity to grow up to 1-foot in a single day, and can reach heights of 15 to 20 feet.
- Plant somewhere that has lots of sun and where the hop plant can climb
- Hop plants grow vertically; spots along fences, garages, and property lines are great planting sites
- Provide a pole, ladder, or something for your hop plant to climb, as it needs a strong support system to thrive. Don’t be afraid to get the twine out!
- Soil should be well drained with a pH of 6.5-8.0
- Hops need a lot of water and nutrients to grow, supplement your soil with manure compost or commercial fertilizer.
- Plant after the last frost
- Hops need at least 120 frost-free days to produce flowers.
Planting and Initial Maintenance:
- Plant so the hop rhizome is about 2 inches under the surface of the soil
- Be diligent with watering
- During their first year, hops have a minimal root system and require frequent short watering
- Too much water may cause more harm than good, especially just after planting
- Support your hop plant
- After the hop bine is about a foot long, wrap 2 or 3 of the strongest bines clockwise around a support system
- Support systems can be trellis, a tall pole, or strong twine.
Keep us in the loop during this growing season by tagging us in your photos with #showusyourhops! Happy planting!
Written by: Jonathon Barraball