Category Archives: Uncategorized

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What’s the Deal with all the Attitude?

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So I’ve been quiet (believe it or not, it can happen from time to time) as we build our business and spend a little “me” time on the internal operations and I have noticed a few trends I can’t resist commenting on. Again, hop growing is gaining a bit of steam after the first wave of failures decayed back into the earth.  It seems to go in short cycles where people looking to make a bunch of money jump into hops only to find there isn’t a bunch of money in hops without the requisite work part of the equation.  They get pissy and like to point fingers at everyone but themselves and leave a wake of flaming crap for the rest of…

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Paddling upstream on a river of hops

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As one might imagine, paddling upstream on a calm waterway might not be too difficult but trying to drag a canoe the wrong way up rushing rapids is not only exhausting but also dangerous.  You’re more likely to drown than make any progress.  One could say the same thing about new ideas in a river of convention. Buddha said “An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.”  I think that says more about the will of the individual and their conviction of their beliefs than the implementation of the idea.  Maybe Arthur C. Clarke struck a chord closer to ideas in real life; “New ideas pass through three periods: 1) It…

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Irrelevant Rural America?

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Straight from our esteemed Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as reported in December 2012. Granted, the Secretary was speaking about the apparent loss of voice that rural Americans are experiencing in the political arena and not whether or not rural America actually exists (although I’m sure for much of our representation…it is the vast emptiness between airports). Secretary Vilsack was speaking about the shrinking of the rural population and rural economy over the last 25 years as the socio-political clout of urban centers take control of the soap box. That would have been all fine and dandy…but I kept thinking about his observation (right or wrong) and soon enough I found myself looking through his lens at my own observations specifically…

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Acres mean nothing…let’s talk about YIELD

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Maybe it’s just human nature to exaggerate…present an augmented image of one’s self in an attempt to seem more attractive, more successful, more intriguing. It is pervasive in our culture and many others. Some believe it is a marketing tool and others just can’t help themselves. Whatever you call it and however you justify it…it drives me CRAZY! So as always we will bring this rant back to hops. the craft beer industry is experiencing a second “boom” and a new category for brew has emerged; the nano brewer. I would imagine they are in a similar position to small hop growers in that the only comparison is to the larger brewer on the next block and so they might…

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Ponderings on… THE DROUGHT OF 2012

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I appreciate the polite interest in our company from those who are not very involved with all things hop and beer, but the single question that is really getting old is…”So, are you concerned about the drought affecting your crop?”No.  Not at all.  What drought?OF COURSE IT IS IMPACTING OUR CROP!  Jeez!Okay…with the gripe out of the way, the observation is relevant.  But why such a drastic drought?  And what’s with the sudden heat?  This is just a fluke, right?  Climate change takes place on geologic time-scales, doesn’t it?Believe me…I’m not a band-wagoner.  I ask pointed questions about generalized comments that usually gets me labeled as cynic, arrogant, etc.  But I think we all need to be a bit more critical of the “information”…

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Re-focused and ready for trouble…

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As I’ve stated in the past, I’m not that great of a blogger. I always find more and more things to fill my time, even to the point of distraction for what NEEDS to be done. I’ve always wanted to feel like my work, the things I’ve done/doing, have a positive impact on others and I continue to engage every opportunity for fear that willfully declining might do harm. I think we all have a sense that we can do everything and anything but what I’ve come to find is I cannot do either with any sort of focus. Narrowing my focus allows me to direct intense effort and create a well-polished, robust, and sustainable program, hop yard, machine, etc….

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High value crops…what makes them high value?

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So what makes a crop high value anyway? And if they’re so high value, then why aren’t all farmers growing them? Both good questions, and the way I see it, the “value” in high value generally means the crop has an accepted higher price per unit area…i.e. apples, cherries, hops, etc. But as in all balanced systems, there must be a proportional input as well. Unfortunately that input is usually high start-up costs, longer period to profitability, and greater exposure to production risks, be they climatic or market. And some farmers only grow these crops in a conventional monoculture no different than typical row crops or livestock systems. True, there is some efficiency gained in focusing on one crop system…

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Defining Ourselves

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I thought I should take a minute to address how we define ourselves and our intentions, actions, interactions, etc. I believe it is best to be vocal about who you are and what you do, and in doing so we craft our own image. Remember…if you don’t define yourself, someone else will. Okay, having said that, who is Gorst Valley Hops and what do they want? I’ll skip the elevator speech…you can find that boilerplate on our website, FB page, cut sheets, etc. Gorst Valley is a group of friends who all possess a focused expertise across all manner of disciplines bringing their considerable experience and observations to bear on a single topic: Hops. Uh…wait a minute. Hasn’t that been…

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It may be local…but is it quality?

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When we little guys are playing in the sandbox with the big boys we simply cannot compete on volume or afford to be exposed to the whims of crooked commodities pricing for our goods. So we have to focus on other value-added attributes that can set us apart from the cacophony, especially in a specialty market like hops. So what are our options? Many folks jump right to “organic” as a mechanism of adding value and hopefully justifying the prices we need to stay solvent. but the marketing juggernaut has turned the principle of organic production into a buzzword and it has lost some of its meaning (not to mention the market for organic hops is iffy at best). Okay…so…

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The power of beer can make agriculture cool…

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That’s right…beer is sexy and that makes the stuff beer is made from sexy. But even the power of full-blown beer-geekdom cannot overshadow the fact that (in this case hops) this is still agriculture. If hops were associated with animal feed production then there would be no casual, drive-by gawkers or bold trespassers in our hop yards. When was the last time a car full of guys piled out to get their picture taken in front of a field corn plot? The fact is that a generic wheat field on a tiny island in Lake Michigan would be otherwise completely overlooked if not for the fact that the crop is a main ingredient in Capital Brewery’s Island Wheat beer. There…

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