We're a growing family of farmers, craftsman, and home brewers. In 1982, the Ludwig family established Edgewood Farms, a 50 acre plot of land in Newton, NJ (Sussex County). Throughout the years, the family has raised sheep and cows, run a chicken coop so the family can enjoy fresh eggs, and grown its own fruit and vegetables.
We've followed a simple creed: try to live off of the land simply and sustainably as much as possible. And like many Americans, after a hard day of work the family often reaches for a cold beer - and increasingly, a cold home brewed beer.
As many family members brewed their own beer, we've experimented with growing a small amount of hops in the gardens (just a few vines) and have had great success. Typically, craft and home brewers use "pelletized" hops - little green pellets of dried compressed hops that won't spoil for many months. It's the backbone of the craft beer industry. Yet, the experience of tasting our own fresh, off-the-vine, "wet" hops in our home brew has been very satisfying and personal - we've taken the same care and attention given to the farm and brought it to the beer we drink.
With the knowledge and experience gained by growing a garden and running a small farm we want to bring the same personal satisfaction to other brewers in the region. We want to give them a fresh, local option to supplement their pellet hops with fresh wet hops. Whether it's for a special batch at a microbrewery or for the brewmaster striving to only use locally-sourced products in his or her beer, our product is the perfect fit.
As a result, we began constructing a hop yard on a small parcel of the family Edgewood farm in early 2015. The yard is located beside the majestic walnut tree that, as kids we found perfect for our rope swing - hence the name of our product, Rope Swing Hops.
So far, we've built a quarter acre hop yard of 300 plants (otherwise called rhizomes) using nothing but family help and existing equipment. We've used natural assets like cedar trees to construct the tall polls to hang the wire the vines climb up. We've spent a lot of time preparing and tilling the soil. And we've transplanted many of these plants from rhizomes taken from our mature hops plants we've experimented with the last few years. The first, small harvest from the new hop yard will be in Fall 2015 and we expect our first full harvest in 2016.
We're raising funds through Kickstarter to expand. The plan is to triple the number hop plants (up to 1000) so that we can provide fresh hops to more craft brewers in the area. This includes building an irrigation system to provide water for all the plants, hardware to install new poles and expand the number of rows of vines, and additional rhizomes.
Help us provide to brewmasters a quality, fresh, local ingredient that they can be proud of, found here in Northern New Jersey. Thank You, from all of us at Rope Swing Hops.
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge is the weather! As with any agriculture project, the challenges are getting enough water to the plants. The farm runs off of well water sourced from natural streams and creeks in the area. While we're hoping for a drought-less 2015, we're working hard to ensure that the hops remain watered.
So far, the initial 300 rhizomes are already sprouting and growing quickly!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)