The home-brewing community loves its self-sufficiency. Message boards are full of beer-loving tinkerers sharing pictures of their homemade brew systems or kegerators. And the latest trend to hit the DIY home-brewing crowd is self-grown hops. While caring for those wonderful beer-bittering plants is a rewarding challenge, many city dwellers just don’t have the space (hop plants can grow 20 feet high) or the soil. With that in mind, self-proclaimed beer activist Andrew Schmitt started Community Hops in Minneapolis—America’s first community garden devoted exclusively to hops. We talked with Schmitt about how he got the project off the ground and what he thinks the future holds for home-grown hops.
Where did the idea for the garden come from?
Naturally, it happened over a couple of beers. I was with Andrew Johnson [Minneapolis’s youngest city councilman], and the question just popped into my head: Why can’t we bring hops into the city?
How does it compare to community gardens people utilize right now?
Obviously, we’re different because we are focused on one specific corner of agriculture. But we also want anyone who chooses to take part in the project to work on everything. Sometimes in a community garden you just get a small square and worry about your own plants, and if your neighbors plants die, they die. That’s not the case with us. This is truly a communal effort.