At NWC, we often tell our students that one of the best ways to learn is to go to the field. One way we help them live that out is by taking students on a trip every spring directly after graduation. You can see several of the places we've been at our Facebook page for the department. In the past, we've taken student on agricultural tours between Powell and...Minneapolis, Dallas, Portland, San Francisco, Calgary, Lincoln and all points in between those locations.
Naturally we wanted to learn about hops in the same way. And so we visited several producers and parts of the hops industry in Washington and Oregon. Heading through the Columbia River corridor, then south through the Willamette Valley, and making our way back through Yakima, WA, it was incredible to see these legendary (in the hops world) places. This is the first installment in a series recounting the trip.
The first visit was to The Oregon Hophouse south of Portland, OR. Pat grows both organically certified and conventional hops and was kind enough to give us some time and tell us stories about his 38 year tenure as hops grower there. Obviously we weren't the first of our kind to visit him - there's lots of interest in hops growing right now - and he emphasized the realities of hop production: labor shortages, fluctuations in the market, high initial setup costs, and processing infrastructure. Here's what his place looks like, which includes drying and processing machinery on site (click to view bigger sizes and notes):