Today HOPPED UPSTATE is screening at Farm Film Fest VI in Chatham, NY. The festival showcases films that explore trends in agriculture and issues facing farmers.
The other films screening are: Growing Cities, Crafting the Cider Comeback, Community Garden, Locust Hill Farm, The Beekeeper, Trowbridge Angus Cattle, and Cow Power. Learn more about the festival here.
“Leslie Von Pless believes social change is best captured on film. And one of the faster growing issues she’s latched on to? Hops, and the people who grow them…The 15-minute film mostly features Dave Pasick and his wife Kayla of Szaro Farms, who fell into hops growing when they discovered the flower-like cones used to bitter and flavor beer creeping up the side of a barn on their Schuyler property.”
I’m very excited to launch the full HOPPED UPSTATE film today. I spent the last 8 months traveling around Upstate NY, collecting stories from some really wonderful brewers and farmers who are working hard to start new ventures in hopes to do what they love for a living and contribute to revitalizing their home state.
Watch it below and visit the HOPPED UPSTATE page to learn more about the film, find production stills and additional footage.[vimeo 75160196 w=640 h=360]
Last weekend I headed to Munnsville, NY to interview Steve Miller of Cornell Cooperative Extension at Foothill Farms. Steve is the resident NYS hops specialist and is doing a ton of work across the state to bring information to new hop farmers. He’s the founder of the Northeast Hop Alliance and he started the “GeoHopping” project that is tracking the varieties and locations of wild hops in New York.
Steve told me that in the last few years, we’ve gone from having just about 15 acres total of hops growing in the state to over 130 acres today. That’s still not much, but the interest is booming and new hop yards are popping up all over. Despite the heritage of hops farming in NYS, today they are basically a brand new crop and every farmer is starting from scratch to grow them.
I also stopped at Szaro Farms in Utica for an update with Dave Pasick. He strung wire on new poles he put in and told me about the research he’s been doing on funding opportunities through Empire State Development’s one-stop shop for the beverage industry. Lots of questions remain for him as far as qualifying for grants since his farm hasn’t been in production for many decades. For now, Dave is learning as he goes and doing what he can to keep expanding his hop yard.
This is the 3rd video from Hopped Upstate and the second update from Dave and Kayla Pasick of Szaro Farms in Utica. I visited Dave in May while he was finishing up a new row of poles and transplanting new wild hop plants from the barn and silo on his land. At that time, he was already seeing tremendous growth in the bines and by now, they’re probably towering.
Earlier this year Dave set up a Kickstarter campaign in an attempt to crowd source some funding to help expand his hop yard. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to reach his goal (meaning he received none of the money pledged), and felt that maybe the timing had something to do with it. Now half way into the first year of New York’s Farm Brewery Law, we’re seeing a rising tide of media attention around craft beer, hop farming, malting, etc. Dave was interviewed in April by Innovation Trail radio, and before that by the Utica Observer-Dispatch. He feels extremely encouraged by the continuing hype and thinks it’s the best way for people to get informed about the business and farm networks developing in their local communities.
Watch the latest video below and learn more about Hopped Upstate here.
This is the release of the second video in the Hopped Upstate series: Sustaining the Land. Casey and Kelly Holzworth are creating a sustainable farm that they one day hope to turn into a homestead. As part of their operation, they started a quarter acre hops yard. Almost a year since Governor Cuomo signed the Farm Brewery Act into law, a new market and demand for New York State grown hops has taken hold. Casey’s hops have already peaked the interest of area breweries and he’ll be looking to sell come fall.
Kelsey’s Quarter Acre Farm is located on land leased through Saratoga P-L-A-N’s land easement program. The goal for the farm is to put the land they need into agricultural production, while preserving the natural landscape and protecting the environment. Casey believes one idea behind the state’s legislation was to create this kind of opportunity for agricultural production and sustainability in local communities – and he’s excited to be a part of it.
Watch their story below and learn more about the project here.
I spent another weekend upstate filming Dave Pasick of Szaro Farms in Utica, NY. Dave and his wife Kayla have made a lot of progress since I was there in March. They’ve put in a new row of poles, have transplanted new rhizomes to the hop yard, and have new strings of plants climbing up the side of the barn.
Dave says he’s pleased with the growth of his hops and the progress of the farm so far. He says once the bines are well on their way climbing the ropes, all they really need is lots of water and lots of sun. Although Dave is still having a hard time gaining local interest for his hops project, he’s optimistic about the rising support from other regions of the state. I interviewed Kelsey’s Quarter Acre Farm of Saratoga, and others gaining notoriety include Erica and Les Goodman’s hops yard in nearby Lake George and newly opened Hopshire Farm and Brewery near Ithaca.
The Farm Brewery Act has been in effect since January 2013, and its been almost a year since it was signed into law. There’s been tremendous industry-wide impact already and Dave is happy to see how much the media is helping to raise awareness and educate the public on the growth of the craft beer scene as well as challenges still facing both brewers and farmers who are trying to tap into the new market. Stay tuned for the second video installment and learn more about Hoppped Upstate here.
This is the first installment of my video project following the craft beer boom in New York state. Legislation passed last summer gives breweries incentive to purchase ingredients like hops from local farms. Dave started growing hops on his family’s farm in Utica, NY last year and is planning to expand the yard this spring. Feeling confident that Upstate New York’s craft beer scene will continue growing, he’s hoping it will create a new market for hops needed by local breweries.
Dave has just started his second growing season and is looking to produce a larger harvest this year. I’ll be following his progress throughout the next few months with more video to come. (More info here)