Through the Farm-to-Glass Classroom, the Carey Institute for Global Good sought to address the need for programming to improve farmers’ technical capacity to grow hops and malt-grade small grains to meet increasing demand for these crops by New York State craft brewers and distillers. The goals of the project were to improve capacity and confidence to produce malt-grade grains and hops, increase awareness of the new market opportunity among partnering farm businesses, and increase supplies of New York State-grown brewing and distilling ingredients.
Over the course of 12 months, six outreach events were attended and three farm-to-glass workshops were offered. The Carey Institute engaged academic experts and practitioners from across New York State, ranging from brewers, distillers, maltsters, researchers, cooperative extension educators, government agency representatives and fellow growers, to develop dynamic workshop curricula and present perspectives from different parts of the ‘farm-to-glass’ supply chain.
The workshops engaged 91 farmers who are either considering or currently producing hops and malting grains or other types (grades) of small grains Through outreach events the project reached over 100 farmers. Results from post-workshop evaluations and follow up surveys suggest that the workshops were effective in improving farmers’ knowledge and capacity to grow hops and small grains; and, that the workshops resulted in some increase in production of hops and malting grains.
In 2012, Governor Cuomo created a farm brewery license for breweries that purchase 20% of their hops and 20% of their other ingredients, including barely and other small grains, from New York State producers through 2018; the mandate escalates to a 90% domestic ingredient purchasing requirement by 2024. However, New York State-grown malting grain supplies are so meager at this time they could easily be consumed by a single microbrewery.
Recognizing this shortcoming, the Carey Institute for Global Good launched a program in 2013 to improve farmers’ technical capacity to raise hops and malt-grains, and augment ingredient supplies. The Helderberg Brewery and Farm-to-Glass Incubator, as it is now called, has since established a network of 270 farmers and craft beverage producers interested in producting or sourcing New York State grown hops and malt-grade small grains. To date, the Farm-to-Glass workshop series has provided educational opportunities and technical expertise to over 450 participants.
With support from USDA Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, the Carey Institute sought to partner with area farmers to design and offer workshops around their educational needs, increase their confidence with crop production and marketing, and ultimately, increase their production of hops and small grains. The project also sought to reach out to as many farmers as possible to increase awareness of the market opportunity for hops and small grains. The project reached 91 farmers through the workshops and over 100 farmers through various outreach activities.
We would like to thank the following partnering farmers and collaborators who served as key informants throughout the project and participated in the workshops and outreach activities:
Alexander “Sandy” Gordon, Gordon Farms
Gary Bergstrom, Cornell University
Objective 1: To improve farmers’ knowledge about growing, harvesting and marketing malting barley, other specialty grains and hops in New York State.
Key Performance Targets
- Provide educational opportunities to partnering farmers to learn more about malting grain and hops production in New York State;
- Outreach to partnering farmers;
- Reach as many farmers as possible to raise awareness about market opportunity to hops and malting grains and provide information about production and educational opportunities; and,
- Evaluate & Measure workshop effectiveness with pre-and post-test evaluations
- Three Farm-to-Glass workshops were held at Carey Institute for Global Good:
- Starting a Small Scale Hop Yard on November 8, 2014;
- Small Grains Workshop on April 2, 2015;
- Hops Production & Processing on April 11, 2015
- 91 farmers and 48 craft beverage producers were reached through the Farm-to-Glass workshops;
- Over 100 farmers were reached by collaborating on and attending outreach events; and,
- Three post-workshop surveys were administered to the 91 farmers; 67 responded.
Objective 2: To increase supplies of New York State grown malting barley, other specialty malting grains and hops.
Key Performance Target
- Improve farmers’ knowledge of, and confidence to enter, the malt grain and hops growing industry, so as to increase production of hops and small grains for New York State’s licensed farm breweries; and,
- Administer written evaluations 6 months after the completion of each seminar to measure changes in production and yields of small grains and hops.
- One follow-up evaluation has been administered to Starting a Small Scale Hop Yard workshop participants;
- Follow up evaluations for Small Grains and Hops Production and Processing are currently being conducted; farmer debriefings have been conducted via e-mail and in-person interviews;
- Follow up evaluations and debreifings indicate that the workshops did have a positive impact on production levels. For example:
- One farmer had been contemplating putting in a hop yard for several years; attending the workshops gave him the confidence and access to information to the needed to finalize and implement his plan;
- Another farmer, an existing small grains grower, was encouraged to continue growing small grains after attending the small grains workshop where he learned direclty from brewers and distillers about the high demand for small grains and to how to access the market.
- The workshops also helped farmers decide that they did not want to grow hops and/or small grains. For example:
- One prospective hop grower attended the November hops workshop; he then went on to attend the Northeast Hops Alliance Hops Conference in December 2014, where he ulitimately decided that he not enter into hops production;
- Two small grain farmers who had grown malting grains in the past decided that they would consider planting malting grains in the future, if/when better seed varieties become available.
- Additionally, one outreach meeting helped launch a local hop farmer’s successful effort to purchase and import a Wolf Hop Harvester from Poland. This will allow him to expand his operation. He intends to provide contract harvesting services to other hop growers in the region, thereby encouraging increased production.
- The project kicked off later than proposed due to personnel changes within the program;
- The dates of the workshop as originally proposed in the work plan were adjusted to better align with planting times of the crops;
- An introductory level hops workshop was added based on feedback from prospective hop growers;
- One workshop on Small Grains Production was scheduled for February 14, 2015 but was postponed due to content overlap with Cornell Cooperative Extension’s First Annual Small Grains School held on February 6. We recommended that partnering farmers attend this program instead; several did. We rescheduled the Small Grains works for April 2, 2015 and amended the agenda to focus on Small Grains Farm Enterprise Planning, Marketing and Risk Management; and,
- Follow-up evaluations to assess changes in production levels were not completed within the project time frame due to changes in dates of workshops. Follow up with farmers will continue through 2015.
The project had three primary methods and specific activities to guide implementation:
Provide educational opportunities to partnering farmers to learn more about malt grain and hops production in New York State. For each workshops, project coordinators will:
- Collaborate with key partners to develop a curriculum and assemble a panel of experts
- Advertise workshops to partnering farmers
- Cover key topics
- Include Q&A sessions for farmers and panelists at the end of each eminar
- Integrate new topics into the curriculum as they are identified by farmers during the course of outreach
Outreach to partnering farmers and other farmers by:
- Attending other workshops/events
- Digitizing printed materials and making available on the Internet to the public
- Recording each workshop and making available on the Internet to the public
Evaluate Workshops and near-term impact of workshop on production levels by:
- Administering written evaluations pre- and post-workshop
- Administering follow-up evaluations to measure the change in supply of small grains and hops
Below is a detailed timeline and description of all implementation activities that took place during project, including a detailed breakdown of each workshop according to the proposed methods:
OUTREACH EVENT: Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Hudson Valley Small Grains Field Day on June 23, 2014.
The project team attended CCE-Hudson Valley’s Small Grains Field Day at Migiorello Farms in Red Hook, NY. Two partnering farmers were present. We spoke to them directly about their operations—both are small scale farmers located in the Hudson Valley, interested in diversifying their operations with a small acreage (less than 25 acres) of grains. I arranged to follow up with them both via phone call; we discussed their plans in more detail and identified their educational needs: organic production, seed sourcing and managing risk. We also spoke to three different Cooperative Extension representatives and agreed to collaborate and share information on upcoming workshops.
OUTREACH EVENT: Small Grains Field Day with Cornell Cooperative Extension on July 22, 2014
Following the June Field Day, we were contacted by Capital Area Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) to collaborate on their pre-harvest field day in July. CCE was responsible for the curriculum, assembling of panelists, location, advertising of event and all hand-outs / materials. We suggested they include a representative from a malt house to address quality characteristics of malt grade grain, which they did.
We sent out one e-mail campaign to 213 farmers and craft beverage producers on July 14, 2014 to inform them of the event; CCE handled all registration.
I attended the workshop. Over 25 farmers and a few craft beverage producers were in attendance. During the Question & Answer portion of program I announced that we would be organizing a series of workshop on Small Grains and Hops with support from NE-SARE. There were many questions about the new market opportunity created through the Farm Brewery and Farm Distillery Bills; I was the most knowledgeable audience member on this topic. There was a general sense of disbelief that the market opportunity was real; or that New York State farmers would able to meet the expectations to fulfill this new demand with little to no information on market characteristics, market access, risk management or cultural practices necessary to meet malt grade. I met and spoke directly with a group of farmers after the workshop ended to learn more about their educational needs. After the workshop, I had a follow up phone call with one of the farmers to discuss risk management and what he thought about malt grade grain production the owner/operator of large, feed grain operation. He felt he would wait until more farmers had grown it successfully and until the region’s (in-development) malting and storage facilities were more equipped to handle larger volumes of grain.
OUTREACH EVENT: Organic Small Grains Field Day with NOFA-NY on August 5, 2014
I was contacted by NOFA-NY Small Grains Educator about collaborating on a Field Day for Organic Grain Production in April 2014. We agreed to assist and began planning the event in June 2014. We chose partnering farmer Sandy Gordon’s farm in Albany County as the site. NOFA-NY developed the agenda and assembled the panel of experts, including Gary Bergstrom, an expert on plant pathology and disease from Cornell University, Robert Perry, Small Grains Educator, NOFA-NY and June Russell, from NYC Greenmarkets.
NOFA-NY created the workshop advertisement and managed marketing event and registration. The Carey Institute sent one e-mail campaign out to 214 farmers and craft beverage producers on July 25, 2014. 15 farmers were in attendance. Topics included: weed control, harvesting, processing, drying, organic production, pests and diseases identification and controls. Questions were taken throughout the program. Disease identification and processing were both popular topics of discussion. After the workshop I connected with June Russell and Amy Halloran, who is publishing a book about the resurgence of grain in the northeast and has done significant research on the topic, about collaborating on the Small Grains Expo at the 2015 NOFA-NY Winter Conference. Jason Townsend, CCE Integrated Pest Management Educator was also in attendance; he agreed to participate in our proposed 2015 hops workshop. NOFA-NY brought a mobile seed cleaner and provided a live demonstration of how to use it. No hand-outs / materials on small grains were provided by NOFA-NY (just general NOFA-NY and Helderberg Brewshed informational materials).
OUTREACH EVENT: Hop Aboard! Panel Discussion Hosted by CADE on August 14, 2014
I was contacted by a representative of CADE about serving as a panelist in their HOP Aboard! Workshop Series in Oneonta, NY. We had one phone call to discuss the types of questions that would be asked and what perspectives each panelist would provide. I was asked to speak to the Farm Brewery Bill and how the Carey Institute’s “Brewshed” program was supporting hop growers and brewers in the Capital Region.
There were over 20 current and prospective hop growers in attendance, mostly from the western Catskills. One growers in attendance came to our April Hops Workshop.
OUTREACH EVENT: SUNY Cobleskill Craft Beer Seminar on September 27, 2014
I was contacted by SUNY Cobleskill Office of Professional and Continuing Education to request that I collaborate on the development of a workshop for students and area residents on a panel discussion on hops and small grains production. I help support the planning of the seminar and was also asked to put together a panel on small grains and hops production. I asked Sandy Gordon and Dietrich Gehring to participate with me.
Over 30 students and area residents participated on our panel discussion. We addressed all aspects of the farm-to-glass supply, the challenges of post-harvest handling and renewed our discussion of the need for a grain hub.
OUTREACH EVENT: Hops Harvester Meeting on September 30, 2014
In late August, I reached out to one of our partnering farmers regarding his fall hop harvest. He had purchased a hop harvester from a new, local manufacturer and the machine failed during harvest. Considering his plans to expand his operation and the number of hop growers in the area, we both agreed that it was worth looking into the costs and logistics of acquiring a commercial hop harvester for shared use by regional hop growers. After some research and outreach to several people around New York State, including two current owner-operators of a commercial harvester, and NYS Hops Educator, Steve Miller, who had assisted with importing four machines from Europe in 2013, we were ready to present the idea to other hop growers from around the region. I set up a meeting and contacted partnering hop growers along with other hop growers in the “Capital Region Hops” google group. We had a small meeting at partnering farmer Dietrich Gehring’s farm—Helderberg Hop Farm. Six hop growers attended. Dietrich and I gave an overview of what we had learned about the German Wolf Harvester and the process of purchasing and importing a refurbished model. Dietrich explained that he was willing to spearhead the purchase and siting of machine in his barn. We had an open discussion / Q&A about starting growers cooperative to own and operate the machine versus a contract harvesting policy managed by Dietrich.
After the meeting, I followed up with the full group of hop growers with an update on the meeting, next steps and requested their feedback about their personal harvesting needs and whether access to harvester would impact their operation.
I put Dietrich Gehring in touch with Daniel Cullen, the regional director of Workforce Development Institute. WDI provides funding to businesses and organizations in support of business expansion and workforce development and advancement. I assisted Dietrich on the drafting of a narrative to demonstrate the need for hops harvesting equipment and how it would support the expansion and success of Helderberg Hop Farm’s operation as well as the expansion and success of other hops farms in the region. Helderberg Hop Farm was invited to submit a request for funding to help with the purchase of the harvester and related processing, and was awarded the funding in winter 2014.
SEMINAR 1: Starting a Small Scale Hop Yard Held on November 8, 2014
In the process of Outreach Event 4, I was contacted by HopRidge Farms about the Helderberg Brewshed program and opportunities for collaboration. I suggested an introductory level hops workshops for the late fall. This would be an ideal time to help prospective growers learn about the materials, process and what to expect in setting up a hop yard, so that they would then have the winter to prepare for a spring 2015 start up. HopRidge Farm members agreed to develop the presentation and serve as panelists. Through e-mails and phone calls we collaborated on the agenda and topics to be covered; I compiled relevant handouts.
I created a poster and developed, sent two e-mail campaigns to advertise the event on October 22, 2014 and November 4, 2014. I also asked Capital Region Cornell Cooperative Extension and Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship to distribute the event through their mailing lists.
47 people participated in the workshop.
All attendees were provided with folder containing an agenda, presentation and other resource materials.
We covered the following topics: site selection, materials, supplies and equipment needed, varietal selection and sourcing rhizomes, do-it-yourself processing and packaging technology, marketing and business planning/business set up.
Q&A was incorporated throughout the workshop. This worked very well – audience members felt comfortable asking questions they arose instead of waiting until the end of the program; panelists were very proficient at answering and sharing relevant knowledge. The only complaint was that this added some time on to the workshop.
The workshop was added to the schedule in direct response to need for an introductory workshop.
Presentation and handouts were digitized and made available to all attendees through follow up email and to the public via website.
The workshop was recorded. The video was uploaded on Carey Institute’s Helderberg Brewery website. Quality of recording was variable. With only one person on staff during the workshop it was difficult to make sure the video camera was working properly throughout.
Post-workshop evaluations were administered immediately after close of panel discussion to assess the effectiveness of the workshop. Results are reported in the results section of this report.
Follow-up evaluations were administered to assess partnering farmers the change in production of hops through a web-based survey designed in SurveyMonkey. Results are reported in the results section of this report. Outreach and follow up to partnering hop farmers is on-going.
PROPOSED OUTREACH: Small Grains Roundtable Discussion in November 2014
Beginning in September 2014, I made multiple, unsuccessful attempts to collaborate with Cornell Cooperative Extension on a Small Grains Roundtable Discussion for winter grain growers and prospective spring grain growers.
OUTREACH EVENT: Hudson Valley Grains School on February 6, 2015
I learned about the Hudson Valley Grains School in December 2014. Having already developed the program for and announced our February 14, 2015 workshop on Small Grain (described below) to our partnering farmers and our larger target audience, I had to reassess the workshop focus. This is described in more detail below. In the interim, I contacted the Grains School organizers to suggest that we collaborate on these events in the future; and, offered to advertise their event to our partnering farmers and requested that they advertise our workshop.
I included the Hudson Valley Grains School announcement in my subsequent February 14 workshop e-mail campaigns sent to approximately 235 farmers and craft beverage producers.
I attended the workshop and distributed posters for the February 14 Small Grains Workshop. Over 60 farmers were I attendance. I also spoke with two partnering farmers at the event and met a new grower located in close proximity to the Carey Institute who was interested in learning more about marketing his grain to a malt house or a brewer. I spoke with a partnering farmer-brewer from Rensselaer County who wants to grow a small acreage of small grains to supply his brewery, but is struggling to ‘get started,’ as he is totally new to small grains production, harvesting and processing. I also connected with an ‘expert’ grain grower from western New York with whom I have followed up with several times regarding growing grain on sub-prime soils and the need for a grain growers association in New York State.
SEMINAR 2: Small Grains Workshop on April 2, 2015
This workshop was designed to combine the proposed May and October 2014 seminars on Small Grains Production & Business Planning & Marketing for farm-to-glass growers and craft beverage producers. Originally, it was scheduled for February 14, 2015 to better coincide with spring planting dates for grains and to create a. Then, due to close overlap in content and timeframe with Cornell’s Hudson Valley Value Added Grain School and the potential for inclement weather, we decided to postpone the workshop to April 2, 2015. We also reduced the length of the workshop and the number of panelists due to conflicts with the new date. Ten current or prospective grain farmers were in attendance; over 40 craft beverage producers were in attendance.
Early in June 2014 I outreached to I collaborated with Steve Hadcock from Cornell Cooperative Extension, Kenneth Wortz of Ky-Mar Farm Distillery, and Sandy Gordon of Gordon Farms to develop a program on the cost small grains production. The final agenda was revised substantially from the agenda as originally proposed for February 14, 2015.
I undertook the following activities to outreach/advertise the workshop: created a poster; developed five e-mail campaigns and sent out to a list of over 250 farmers and craft beverage producers; posted the event details on our website; requested that Cornell Cooperative Extension and Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship circulate the event notice through their e-mail list; made weekly posts about the workshop on the Carey Institute Facebook page; developed and circulated a press release; advertised the event on our WAMC ad space.
We covered the following topics: the cost of small grains production, marketing small grains, risk management and brewer- and distiller-community supported agriculture discussion with craft beverage producers led by Sandy Gordon and Ken Wortz.
57 people were in attendance; 10 were farmers.
Both topics/presentations included a Question & Answer session. The brewer- and distiller-community supported agriculture model discussion was an open discussion with significant audience participation by farmers and craft beverage producers. We discussed issues of risk management, market access and supply and possible collaborative solutions to address them, including: brewer- and distiller-community supported agriculture model, a grain handling hub, a marketing platform, direct marketing partnerships between growers and craft beverage producers. A summary of the discussion was sent out to participants in a follow-up e-mail. It is included in the publications section of this report.
Risk management and brewer /distiller community supported agriculture were new topics identified and refined during outreach.
Printed materials were made available on the Helderberg Brewshed webpage, including a synopsis of the brewer /distiller community supported agriculture discussion.
The workshop was video recorded. Unfortunately, when preparing the video for uploading onto website, it was discovered that the signal from cellular phones created a noticeable level of interference with the sound quality.
Post-workshop evaluations were administered through a web-based survey created in SurveyMonkey. Response rates among farmers were considerably lower as compared to surveys administered in person. However, I was able to follow up directly with attendees to garner feedback.
Formal follow-up evaluations to measure the change in supply of small grains and hops are currently being conducted. Preliminary feedback from several partnering farmers suggests that several are not growing small grains this year due to repeated crop failure over the past two years, but they report a willingness to try again assuming that a variety suitable for New York State climate can be found; that there is a clear pathway to market; and, if possible, there is willingness among brewers and distillers to assume some of the risk involved in planting this specialized crop.
SEMINAR 3: Intermediate Hops Workshop on April 11, 2015
This workshop was re-scheduled for April 2015 to accommodate the availability of panelists, and to avoid overlap with two winter hops workshops. I e-mailed partnering farmers and a “Capital Region Hops” list-serv requesting suggestions on panelists and topics of interest/need. Given the feedback, the goal of the workshop was to provide existing growers with an ‘intermediate level’ workshop, taking a more in-depth look at key issues and areas of interest. I reached out to Steve Miller in June 2014 to begin planning the workshop and to secure him as a panelist. Jason Townsend, CCE IPM Educator, who attended our NOFA-NY Field Day—also agreed to be a panelist; we collaborated on with refining the topics of the workshop through a series of phone calls. He also suggested that Ian Porto of Northern Eagle Hops join the panel to talk about harvesting and processing of hops.
I worked with Tom Gallagher at Albany County CCE to reserve a room at the extension office.
I created a poster and sent out two e-mail campaigns to a list of 272 farmers and craft beverage producers to advertise the workshop, along with requesting that CCE send the announcement out through their e-mail list. We also posted the event on Facebook and circulated a media advisory to several local publications and advertised the event on our WAMC spot. Steve Miller circulated the event to his contacts.
35 people attended the workshop.
Topics covered: hop yard set up and consideration (deviation from original agenda item-Economies of Scale-based on majority of audience members being “new” growers); Pest Identification & Management; Disease Identification and Management; pesticide spray certification courses offered by CCE; Managing a harvesting operation; Site visit to Helderberg Hop Farm: a walk thru’ of the Wolf and Q&A with Ian Porto and Dietrich Gehring; a review of trellising options: from small scale to commercial scale as illustrated by Helderberg Hop Farm’s multiple trellising systems.
Questions were incorporated and answered throughout the presentation. A site visit to Helderberg Hop Farm and Q&A with Dietrich Gehring followed the presentations.
Following up from the Wolf Harvester outreach meeting and the subsequent purchase of a harvester by Helderberg Hop Farm, “Harvesting & Processing” presentation and site visit were incorporated into the agenda. “Economies of Scale” was included due to the common misunderstanding about the realities of commercial scale hops production and to help growers see how their production goals fit within the commercial model versus a smaller scale, direct marketing model.
Printed materials were digitized and made available on the Internet to the public.
The workshop was video recorded and made available on the Internet to the public.
Post-workshop surveys were administered in person directly after the close of the last presentation. 23 participants completed the survey. Results are reported below.
Follow-up evaluations to measure the change in supply are being administered June-July and again after fall harvest to assess new plans for expansion on spring 2016. Evaluations are being administered through direct outreach to farmers.
The Carey Institute conducted on-going outreach to farmers by fielding questions and inquiries through e-mail and phone calls. We also had the opportunity to meet with New York State agriculture officials to speak about the project. We continually outreached to other industry stakeholders and informants to research and collect information on issues and opportunities to address through the project.
- Starting a Small Scale Hop Yard-weed management
- FAQs for starting a hop yard in New York
- Small Grains Marketing Worksheet-marketing case example
- Hops Production & Processing-Presentation – Getting started in hops
- Hops Production & Processing April 11 2015 Handout-Western Field guide for IPM in hops
- Starting a Small Scale Hop Yard-Inventory of items to construct a hop yard
- Hops Production & Processing-April 11 2015 Agenda
- Starting a Small Scale Hop Yard-small scale hops farming at Hop Ridge Farms
- Small Grains Marketing Presentation-setting prices
- Collaboration with FarmHouse Malt-workshop development notes
Through the Farm-to-Glass Classroom, the Carey Institute sought to provide three educational opportunities and conduct outreach to increase partnering farmers’ knowledge and confidence in hops and small grains production for the craft beverage industry; to reach as many farmers as possible to increase awareness of the market opportunity and educational opportunities available through the Farm-to-Glass Classroom; and, to increase prodution levels of hops and small grains among participating farmers. The Carey Institute was successful in implementing these goals, with some slight modifications:
Three workshops were held, reaching 91 farmers and 42 craft beverage producers. Through six outreach events we reached over 100 farmers. Additionally, through ongoing web-based outreach and direct e-mail and phone inquiries, we reached over 1,190 interested parties.
Based on the survey results, as reported below, the Farm-to-Glass Workhshops were effective in increasing partnering farmers’ knowledge and confidence in hops and small grains production for the craft beverage industry. The workhops were particularly useful to new hops growers who were undecided about their interest in starting a hop yard.
The project was not able to reach as many small grain farmers as had been projected due to overlap with Cornell Cooperative Extension’s small grains programming. Additionally, feedback from the small grains workshop and related outreach suggests that farmers found the workshops useful, and are interested in learning more about the crop production and marketing. However, it was evident that the knowledge and expertise of the state’s agricultural educators is not as developed (as compared to NYS hops educators).
The impact of the project on production levels is explained in more detail in the following section.
In conclusion, the Farm-to-Glass Classroom has proven itself to be a successful educational platform for farmers seeking to enter into hops and small grains production for the craft beverage industry. The results of this project have helped refine and reinforce the niche that the Carey Institute identified and proposed to fill. Particularly valuable is the focus on constructing unique workshop agendas that provide both practical and academic expertise; and, building market connectivity by bringing together farmers and craft beverage producers into the same room.
Anecdotal feedback from past Farm-to-Glass workshops indicated that the program has effectively raised awareness about the market opportunity and production levels of hops and small grains; and, has spurred decisions to enter into production. The Carey Institute for Global Good sought to capture quantitative and qualitative data on program effectiveness through this project, including:
- Immediate reactions to each program session;
- The educational experience as a whole; and,
- The degree to which farmers’ participation influenced malt-grain and hop production
Written surveys, web-based surveys, follow-up evaluations and debriefing sessions were (are being) used to collect the data on these three goals. Survey tools and raw data from three post-workshop surveys and one follow-up evaluation are attached. Results from each workshop are summarized below:
Starting a Small Scale Hop Yard—November 8, 2014
47 people attended the workshop. 34 people completed a survey. Of those people:
- 10 are currently growing some hops; 24 are not growing hops
- After the workshop, 28 are still interested in growing hops and 1 was no longer interested in growing hops; 5 people did not answer this question
- 12 participants plan to start hops yards in 2015
Overall Assessment of Workshop:
- 19 people responded with ‘5’ – excellent
- 14 people responded with ‘4’ – very good
Knowledge/info gained from workhops met your expectations?
- 25 people said ‘definitely’
- 8 said ‘mostly’
- 1 did not answer
Will be applicable to your work?
- 23 said ‘definitely’
- 8 said ‘mostly’
- 2 said ‘somewhat’
- 1 did not answer
Did workshop achieve agenda objectives
- 33 said ‘yes’
- 1 did not answer
Follow Up Evaluations
A web-based, follow-up survey was sent to the 47 workshop participants—three people responded:
- Two were planning to start a hop yard in spring 2015
- One was planning to start a hop yard in within the next few years
- The most influential factors in helping make a decision to start a hop yard were: attending workshops, talking to other hop farmers, talking to brewers, doing their own research
Debriefings and Secondary Follow-up
Follow up e-mails were sent directly to partnering farmers for updates on their hop yard:
- Two participants continued their exploration of hops at 2014 NEHA Hops Conference, after which, they decided not to enter into hops production
- One of the respondents attended the second hops workshop and planted a hop yard in spring 2015
Small Grains Workshop—April 2, 2014
53 people attended the workshop—most were craft beverage produces; 10 were farmers. Two different post-workshop surveys—one for craft beverage producers and one for farmers—were created in SurveyMonkey and administered via e-mail to all workshop participants. Five farmers responded:
- Four are currently growing small grains; one is not currently growing small grains
- Impact of workshop on interest in production small grains:
- 3 reported no change in interest after attending workshop—just as interested as they were before
- 2 reported that after attending the workshop, they were definitely interested in growing small grains for the craft beverage industry
- Overall assessment of the workshop:
- 1 rated the workshop “excellent”
- 3 rated the workshop “very good”
- 1 rated the workshop “good”
- 3 of respondents reported the workshop achieved the objectives laid out in the agenda
- 3 of respondents reported the workshop partially achieved the objectives laid out in the agenda
- 4 respondents reported that the knowledge and information gained at the workshop mostly met their expectations. 1 did not answer.
- 3 respondents reported that the knowledge and information gained at the workshop will mostly be useful / applicable to his/her work
- 2 respondents reported that the knowledge and information gained at the workshop will definitely be useful / applicable to his/her work
- Small grains production requires access to equipment
- 4 of the respondents reported having access to some of the equipment needed
- 1 reported having no access to the equipment needed
Follow Up Evaluations
Formal follow-up evaluations to measure the change in supply of small grains are currently underway. More data on current production of partnering farmers has been gathered through farmers debriefings and outreach.
Three farmers were outreached to regarding their plans to plant small grains crops in spring 2015:
- 1 farmer is growing small grains—he had a successful crop last year and feels confident in his ability to produce another successful crop. He is supportive the Farm to Glass Incubator’s work to raise awareness about the market opportunity to grow malting grain and has sent two prospective growers to speak to over the course of this project.
- 1 farmer is also growing several different varieties of small grains, totaling 17 acres. This is his second year of production. He is looking for a different buy this year because last year’s buy has been slow to pay.
- 2 farmers are not growing small grains this year due to repeated crop failure over the past two years—one due to lack of equipment; the other due to fertilizer misapplication and weed growth, but they report a willingness to try again assuming that a variety suitable for New York State climate becomes available; that there is a clear pathway to market; and, if possible, there is willingness among brewers and distillers to assume some of the risk involved in planting this specialized crop.
Hops: Production & Processing—April 11, 2015
35 people attended the workshop. 23 completed a post-workshop survey. Of those:
- 7 are currently growing hops
- 15 are currently not growing hops
- 1 did not answer
Interest in starting (expanding) a hop yard:
- 6 people said ‘yes’
- 2 people said ‘no’
- 5 people said ‘not sure’
- 5 people did not answer
- Of those that said, yes, 3 said they would like to start in 2015:
- 1 person would like to start with 250 hills
- 1 person would like to start with 300 hills
- 1 person would like to start with .5 acre
Overall assessment of the workshop
- 13 people said ‘5’ – excellent
- 7 people said ‘4’ – very good
- 3 people said ‘3’ – good
- 1 person said ‘2’ – ok
Did workshop achieve agenda objectives:
- 21 people said Yes
- 1 person said No
Did the knowledge/information gained from workshop meet your expectations:
- 21 people said yes
- 1 person said no
- 1 person did not answer
Will be applicable to your work:
- 19 said definitely
- 3 people said mostly
- 1 person said somewhat
Follow Up Evaluations
Formal follow-up evaluations to measure the any changes in supply of hops are currently underway. Expansion of existing hop growers and plans for new hop yards will be assessed.
Review of Verification Plan
Administering two evaluations in one workshop session did not appear to be practical as it seems like we are lucky to get people to fill out one. In the future, basic information about participants’ experience / knowledge and interest levels should be collected when he or she signs up for the workshop. We also tested out the effectiveness of SurveyMonkey as opposed to in-person surveys to make analysis and tracking of data easier, but response rates were very low as compared to in-person surveys. Similar, in-person or e-mail debriefings to conduct a follow up evaluation have proven most effective.
Qualitative results suggest that technical expertise and knowledge on small grains is lacking and the inability to access sound knowledge or expertise is impacting farmers’ decisions to enter into small grains production.
Measuring or verifying results of Objective 2—“increasing supplies of hops and small grains” is not a clear cut process. In several cases, the educational experience helped farmers helped them decide against entering into production. While this counters Objective 2 of the project to increase supplies, it is equally valuable to help farmers make good decisions and potentially avert failure until he or she is prepared to enter into or expand production of crops that are still in early stages of development. Furhter, harvesting and processing infrastructure is critical to this objective. The relative lack of infrastructure must be taken into consideration when carrying out and evaluating Objective 2. We will continue to track how many partnering farmers enter into hops and small grains production and have adjusted the timing, number and focus of follow-up evaluations to track longer-term changes in supply.
Two of the program’s most successful outcomes were not explicitly measured. First, increasing awareness of the new market opportunity by reaching new farmers in the region, and providing them with a starting point to ask questions and get more information. Over the course of the project timeframe, our e-mail list grew from 212 to 274. A majority of the people joined the list at one of the three farm-to-glass workshop, suggesting that we reached roughly 60 new people.
Second, providing farmers and craft beverage producers an opportunity to network and establish connections. Qualitative survey results suggest that bringing together farmers with end users is beneficial to increasing farmers’ knowledge of market characteristics and improves their confidence access the market access. The idea of ‘becoming a part of the industry’ appears to be a motivating factor to enter into small grains production.
Education & Outreach Activities and Participation Summary
Workshops were publicized through email campaigns to farmers that have already signed up for updates from the Carey Institute. Seminar announcements were posted in regional community calendars, the Carey Institute website and blog, social media outlets including Facebook and Twitter, Cornell Cooperative Extension’s agricultural list-serve, media advisories to local newsletters and newspapers, and via posters displayed in public places including agricultural service offices. Media advisories and posters for each workshop are available on our website under the “Farm to Glass Incubator” tab at http://careyinstitute.org/helderberg-brewshed/.
E-mails to our own network of farmers and craft beverage producers and to Cornell Cooperative Extension list-servs were most effective in publicizing workhshops. A record of the E-mails sent out to publicize the workshops is attached.
We were unsuccessful at attracting news outlets to provide live coverage of the events.
The Carey Institute made a video recording of all three seminars. Two of the recordings were made available for free public viewing on the Internet. The audio quality of the videos was impacted by cell phone interference that was picked up by the microphone. One video could not be converted into the appropriate file type becuase the video camera used antiquated technology. Two of videos are available under the “Farm to Glass Incubator” tab on our website at http://careyinstitute.org/helderberg-brewshed/ or, on the Carey Institute’s YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/UvCWRkEYQYk and https://youtu.be/Nk_-3P9Gn98.
Written materials distributed at each seminar were digitized and posted online for farmers and the public. These resources have also been shared through follow up emails to workshop participants, and as general outreach collateral to help raise awareness about small grains and hops production on Facebook and when responding to farmers inquiries. All educational materials can be viewed under the “Farm to Glass Incubator” tab on our website at http://careyinstitute.org/helderberg-brewshed/.
After each workshop, follow up e-mails were sent to all workshop participants containing a summary of the workshop, all hand outs and presentation materials, as well as contact information of panelists and additional resources on specific topic or questions that came up during the workshops.
Last, this final report and a summary of result of project will be publicized via the Carey Institute’s website and email lists, social media outlets including Facebook and Twitter, and agricultural list-serves.
- Starting a Small Scale Hop Yard Media Advisory
- Starting a Small Scale Hop Yard-Resource, hops feasibility study
- Small Grains Workshop-April 2 2015 poster
- Small Grains Workshop-April 2 follow-up email
- Small Grains Workshop
- Small Grains Workshop-Brewer- & Distiller-Community Supported Agriculture
- Small Grains Workshop-contacts for workshop
- Hops Production & Processing-April 11 Media advisory kit
- Hops Production & Processing-April 11 2015 poster
- Small Grains Workshop-Media Advisory kit
- Small Grains Workshop-April 2 2015 Agenda
- Starting a Small Scale Hop Yard-Follow Up E-mail
- Starting a Small Scale Hop Yard-copy of organic hops manual
- Starting a Small Scale Hop Yard-Hardwick hops study final report
- Starting a Small Scale Hop Yard-Nov 8 poster for workshop