The group formed out of an increased interest in hop production
By Diego Flammini
A new Alberta commodity group will make its official splash into the ag community later this month.
The Alberta Hop Producers’ Association (AHPA) is holding a launch party on Nov. 18 to celebrate its journey from an Internet search query to an officially recognized organization.
Wade Bendfeld, AHPA president, began searching for information on starting his own hop farm about five years ago and noticed there were others who shared his interest.
“A couple of farms sprouted up and more people expressed interest in (hop production),” he told Farms.com today. “It became clear that we could really benefit from coming together to share our start-up stories. There’s a lot of learning that needs to be shared and we feel that the association is in a unique position to (enable) that.”
AHPA will help members in a variety of ways, including production information and marketing opportunities.
“The association will be able to help (the growers) through their production with tips and information,” Bendfeld said. “By ensuring hop growers have the access to the best production practices, it helps ensure Alberta-grown hops are the highest quality they can be.
“And down the road we’ll be able to develop specific marketing supports.”
Members of the AHPA feel the time is right for hops to move into Alberta’s agricultural spotlight.
The province’s hop producers are an enthusiastic and growing community who, if given the chance, can do great things, says Catherine Smith, general manager of Northern Girls Hopyard in Darwell, Alta.
“It’s time for this. It’s big and it’s an entrance into a new agricultural industry for Alberta,” said Smith, who runs the farm with her sister Karin. “That doesn’t happen every day and we’ve been joined by some other great hop producers who are really going to change the landscape in Alberta.”
Alberta Agriculture has also taken notice.
The Smith sisters’ farm held an open field day earlier this year and provincial Minister of Agriculture Oneil Carlier attended the event.
His presence at the event helped promote the opportunities for hop growers, she said.
“It was wonderful to hear him speak in his official capacity about diversifying agriculture in Alberta and how hops are part of that picture,” she said.
AHPA’s official launch event is scheduled for Nov. 18 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Craft Beer Market in Edmonton.
Admission is $20 and more information can be found on AHPA’s website.