Aroostook Hops is a small family farm in northern Maine, founded in 2009 by a husband and wife team of Jason Johnston & Krista Delahunty. At the time we started growing organic hops commercially, we were one of only three hops growers in the state of Maine. We started out small, and now have 4 acres of hops (with 5 varieties to offer). Some of our mature hops plants are 5-years old.
We have both worked hard at our venture, and are proud of what we have accomplished up to now. We have been recipients of two separate USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grants, been invited to present at the 2013 annual UVM Hops Conference, been featured in magazine and newspaper articles, and have been a part of a Maine state agriculture legislative tour of our northern-most Maine county, Aroostook county.
We were excited recently to have our hops featured in the “Crown Breaker Artisan Ale”, the 2013 Beer Advocate Extreme Beer Fest brew in collaboration with Dogfish Head Brewery, where all ingredients were sourced from small “mom and pop” operations like ours.
We have managed to pick by hand the last four seasons, but can’t sustain that kind of labor-intensive method with our increasing hops plant acreage and plant maturity. We are launching an Indiegogo campaign to fund a small-scale commercial hops harvester and a tow-behind sprayer, which we need in order to continue to manage well what we grow.
What We Need & What You Get
Despite all the sweat and hard work we’ve put in the last five years, we are now at a point where we need help to move to the next level. With four acres of hops to harvest in the coming years, it is imperative that we acquire a mechanical harvester to accomplish this. Hand picking is just not feasible at this level!
There are plans available through the UVM Hops team that we will use in collaboration with local experts to build. The UVM-designed machine has been built initially for $35K, but we think we can tweak the design to be finished for under that – around $25-27K. This will be the first commercial hops harvester in the state of Maine, and will represent a leap forward for the industry. We also have plans to cooperate with other small hops growers for them to utilize the machinery and help them to grow.
We also need to purchase a bigger sprayer than what we currently use to combat the biggest threat to our organic crop: downy mildew. We use organic growing methods, and will use the sprayer for OMRI certified products that will produce the best quality hops cones for our brewing customers. This will cost about $3600 to purchase.
As a contributor to our fundraising campaign, you will receive unique perks that will allow you to publicly show your support. Our logo will be added to some very stylish t-shirts, caps, pint glasses, and keychains, and handmade hops soap. Depending on the reward level you choose, you can select the merchandise that most interests you.
Also, some reward levels provide you with a unique opportunity to experience the best of times at Aroostook Hops – how does an evening steak dinner for two with samplings of fresh hoppy beer sound? Or are you interested in a personal tour of the hopyard? How about an engraved brass plate mounted on an end pole that permanently names a full row of hops after you or someone special?
Your support will help us to accomplish our goals and further the hop growing effort in Maine, and we hope that the reward we offer will be meaningful and worthwhile to you, in turn. Check out our Indiegogo campaign now, and join in this exciting venture as we “grow” together!
There is an increasing interest in local and organically produced hops in the Northeast, as well as in craft brewing. With our experience and knowledge, we are positioned as leaders in the field and are happy to share with others what we have learned.
We have a successful track record of receiving grants, publishing scientific papers, and delivering talks on in our field. We will approach a successfully-funded Indiegogo campaign in the same way we have approached every other project we have taken on together – with responsibility, hard work, and true integrity.
Your contribution to our campaign will have a huge impact… we have worked so hard and called on every generous volunteer to get the fall harvest in the last couple of years, but without mechanized harvesting, we cannot continue to keep up to the amount of vines to be picked. We need you to help – and every contribution will be greatly appreciated!
Other Ways You Can Help
We understand that not everyone can contribute financially to a campaign. However, your greatest value may be your voice – you can make a huge difference if you get the word out and make some noise about our campaign! Use the Indiegogo “share” tools, use Facebook and email, whatever gets more people involved. Encourage your contacts to also share with their contacts – we only have 50 days to make this happen, and every person reached helps. Thanks for your support in revitalizing the hops industry in the Northeast!