Urban farmers hop into brewing


Green-fingered beer lovers in London and Cardiff are getting ready to grow their own local brew.

The urban farmers will be growing hops in back gardens and community plots and handing the harvest over to nearby breweries to turn into community beers.

The project is run by the City Farmers organisation, which supplies growing packs and advice and co-ordinates the planting, harvesting and brewing. “We decided to run a hop growing project because we love drinking beer but were concerned that a lot of fashionable and delicious hops are now being imported – what happened to the world-famous UK hop industry? We wanted to learn more about hop growing and also get people to think about what goes into their pint,” said Helen Steer of City Farmers.

The project began last year in Brixton in London and this year will expand to Crystal Palace, Hackney and Cardiff. “We had all sorts of people growing in all sorts of places: people who had literally never grown anything before, seasoned gardeners, people growing on estates, in community gardens, in back gardens, in pots and in parks. We made more than 1,000 pints. We drank some of it and the rest was sold by the brewer as pints in pubs – only in South London though; a truly local pint,” said Steer.

As well as getting to sample the fruits of their labours, growers will also have the opportunity to take part in events such as visits to hop farms and breweries and beer tastings.

City Farmers provides starter packs for £20, which include a rhizome of a dwarf variety called ‘Prima Donna’, hop twine, gravel, seaweed fertiliser and manure, and growing advice. The deadline for ordering packs is this Tuesday 12th March, planting day is on Sunday 17th March and the community harvest and brew day will be in September.

For more information visit www.city-farmers.co.uk

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