Sustainable Agriculture
People tend to make a mess of their own environment.  Since the industrial revolution, we’ve tended to equate progress with bigness.  Growth has been the key index of our economy’s health. But in our rush for more output, higher yields, and greater extractions, historically we as a nation haven’t focused enough on the unintended damages (or, in economist’s parlance, the “un-traded social costs”) to our environment.

Fish-Friendly Hops, Good For Beer, Great for Salmon. Click here to learn how and why.

Fortunately, the “bigger is better” mentality is changing.  We are coming around to the idea that less can be more, that small can be beautiful, and that diversity makes the world go round.  Nowhere is the “return to the land” attitude more manifest than in the craft beer world, which has made wholesomeness, variety, quality and novelty it’s quest as well as it’s brand.  Simply put, craft beer drinkers have been willing to pay more to get more. 

One reason Indie Hops is proud to be in Oregon’s Willamette Valley is the sustainable natural environment.  The tremendous diversity of crops that grow here has kept monoculture farming at bay.  More than half of total acreage being farmed does not require irrigation. The crops that do require irrigation tap into the abundance of water that flows down from the snow-capped mountains into our lush river valley.

Hop farms in the valley reflect this diversity.  Small hop fields are scattered throughout Marion and Polk counties, much like what you would find in European hop-growing regions.  In fact, this is the only hop-growing region in the USA that you might mistake for the idyllic, centuries-old, small-scale sustainable farms of Europe.

A growing region’s potential for sustainability, however, does not always win when stacked up against the unrelenting pressures put on a farmer from an increasingly simplified and monopolistic global market. The drive for increased yields to meet pricing demands often leads to farm practices that can harm the environment, if not managed with a sustainable mindset. 

For our part at Indie Hops, we have three strategies to help promote sustainable agriculture:

  1. Work with farms committed to sustainable practices.  Goschie Farms is the first hop farm in the USA to achieve Certified Sustainable/Salmon Safe status, and Coleman Farms is pursuing this certification for the 2010 crop.  Our goal is to have all acreage that is committed to Indie Hops certified under this program.  Click on Salmon Safe for more information on this certification.

  2. Keep a tight “carbon footprint” for our operations.  Locating all of our processing, storage and distribution in the middle of Oregon hop country has environmental benefit in addition to the quality benefit in our hops.

  3. Invest in organic hop farming for the long term.  We have joined Gayle Goschie at Goschie Farms in this effort by committing to acreage for organic farming. Growing hops organically in the USA is widely considered economically unfeasible, which is why hops were placed on a USDA exceptions list that allows brewers to label beer “organic” even if they do not use organically grown hops.  We hope that by partnering with a skilled and dedicated grower like Gayle, organically grown hops will become a healthy and economically viable option in the future."

Indie Hops Goes Green, Commits to 20 Acres Organic. Organic hops. Should we or shouldn’t we? The answer is: bring it on. Here’s why. We believe. We believe organic hops can be grown successfully. They can impart new and different flavors and aromas. They are good for the environment. And consumers will continue to give up more green for pure, green produce. > More...