A Quick Update & Father’s Day Interlude

Spring was slow to arrive and thanks to a soggy start to June, Origin Hops is not alone in battling downy mildew again this spring. We are doing our best to manage it through organic methods, which means a lot of manual labor (at least until I can convince my parents that they’d just love some pet sheep, which is unlikely).

2015 hops with frost damage

First shoots showing signs of frost damage.

The spring has been good despite the mildew challenges. As the saying goes it takes a village and indeed, Origin Hops is made possible thanks to the hands of many. We have been blessed by great supporters, both to get us off the ground and also to keep us going. During a particularly drizzly, damp day this May, my dear friends John Derrick and Ben and Lauren Bruno made the hour-plus trek from Middlebury, Vermont to help string our approximately 300 lines. It was an enormous help and true generosity of their time that they have given again and again since our inception. A new processing facility is slated to launch in Washington County later this year and excitement continues to build with local breweries as they too open and grow. The energy couldn’t be greater with the proverbial village expanding as we all work to support a successful market for New York State beers.

But day in and day out, it’s my Dad who keeps things going. He claims to enjoy the time outside weeding and mulching and mowing, yet I wonder how he really feels when we are out there on the hottest and most humid days. I recently asked my mother why on earth she and Dad ever let me start this venture. She chuckled and reminded me that our deal was that she’d help make sure any volunteering friends or family were well-fed (and sometimes housed), but wasn’t keen on the field work. Her Scandinavian roots are not well suited for sun-soaked days and so Dad and I are spending lots of quality time these days together with the hops.

Cleaning up after a spring day in the hop yard, Dad is reluctant to smile for the camera.

Cleaning up after a spring day in the hop yard, Dad is reluctant to smile for the camera.

After a moment, Mom added that she and my father simply want to support me and my sisters in what makes us happy. That support, from both my parents, is a true gift, one of many that I haven been given or inherited. With my Dad, I see his equal parts of a hard work ethic and downright stubbornness in the four full days of a “vacation” I spent working in the hop yard to weed and spray in hopes of turning this downy mildew around. We both worry in our own way – he about the time it takes to harvest, me about the trajectory of the crop in these wet conditions. The wheels in his mind are always spinning to find a solution to even the smallest setback, and I am learning from his ingenuity and craftiness how to be more creative and efficient. Perhaps the most poignant gift and what led me to the idea of Origin Hops in the first place is the optimistic curiosity shared by both my parents, an implicit need to always inquire with a sense of wonder that they live out each day.

When I share the story of Origin Hops with someone new, I explain that it’s a project I’m working on with my Dad and not alone, though I’m not sure he’d take credit for his instrumental role on the team. And indeed, we are a team, one that has been training together for the past 31 years. Growing up, he coached me on how to properly prepare cows to show at the county fair and spent endless hours rebounding so I grasped the fundamentals of a consistent and smooth jump shot. We still talk about what cows he has for the fair and what defense the basketball team he helps coach prefers to run, but we have teamed up on something else now. As in our other efforts, It might take some time, but I have no doubt that Origin Hops will bring home the champions trophy. So Happy Father’s Day to the greatest dad, coach and teammate around.

Editor’s Note: Friends, apologies for the radio silence when it comes to updates on this here site. Will be better, scouts honor. 

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