Their goal: to responsibly supply Colorado craft beer brewers with the highest quality hops possible. How their doing it: with great stride and Colorado pride.
Simply Grown started growing hops in 2006 after determining the growing conditions in Palisade for hops was ideal. As with many other crops in the area such as peaches and corn, the weather in Western Colorado is a key ingredient to the perfect hop recipe. The warm days coupled with cool nights create supreme growing conditions for a variety of crops and Simply Grown found that hops were not excluded. The majority of hops are currently grown in the North West, but with Simply Grown, that could very well change. Initially, the farm grew peaches but much of the farm has been converted to hop farming. They still grow peaches because as Jeff Sirbu jokingly puts it, "We still need something to eat here; hops just do not taste as good off the vine as peaches do."
From the poles that support the hops, to the irrigation system with a 94% to 97% efficiency, and all the way to the end of assembly line, Simply Grown has made a strong commitment to responsible farming. "We are stewards of the land," says General Manger Brett Walton. They farm with responsibility because it is the right thing to do and want to provide the greatest possible hops they can, not for the hype. "No one else we know is growing like we are," says Sirbu. The staff at the farm takes a great amount of pride in taking care of the land, air and water used for farming and say that doing so is even fun.
This is the first season that the hops will be processed directly on the farm- a first for the region. With harvest right around the corner, the finishing touches are being added to the immaculate processing facility. Through processing the hops on-site, the integrity of the hop is preserved. The plants no longer have to travel hours (and sometimes days) to be processed at a different facility. Instead, they move just a matter of yards from the field to the processing facility; ensuring the highest possible quality of the hops.
Simply grown is projecting and planning for tremendous growth. They are currently on track to be a top competitor as a source of hops for many Colorado craft brewers. Next year, they will grown a third more crop than this year and the following year they will max-out their current farm and look for more places to grow in the area.
As they grow, Simply Grown has looked to Networks Unlimited to implement computer systems to ensure the highest quality product possible. Through monitoring time, efficiency, work flow in every step in the intricate farming and processing process, they plan to maximize their time and resources. With our help, Simply Grown is in the process of monitoring the entire operation from seed to sale using technology.
Keep an eye on this emerging and innovative small business as they make a name for Colorado in the hop industry.