Ryefield Hops showed off the fruits of its labour last week during a special visit from Senator for NSW Jim Molan.
The visit to the Bemboka farm was the culmination of three years of work expanding the growing fields, building a processing shed and installing a mechanical harvester thanks to considerable investment by the owners and the federal government.
Morgan and Karen Taylor and Jade McManus also took last weekend as an opportunity to celebrate an "official opening" - even if it was a few years late!
What began as an idea to repurpose the family dairy farm has grown at an incredible rate - and through a lot of intensive work - to see Ryefield now the only on its scale in NSW and the third largest hops plantation of its type in Australia.
In February 2018, Ryefield Hops was announced as a successful recipient of a Regional Jobs and Investment Package grant of some $600,000, to be matched dollar for dollar by the recipients.
Karen said they have been committed to investing their own money and considerable time into expanding their fields and processing capabilities, with the federal government reimbursing them 50-50 along the way.
Of the $1.2million, The Taylors said $900,000 had been spent within the Bega Valley - only turning elsewhere for specialty equipment not available locally.
Senator Molan was impressed at the scope and vision of Ryefield's trio of owners, getting a first hand look at not only the soaring bines of various hops ready for harvest, but also the brand new harvester and processing shed.
While the huge harvester is already an impressive bit of kit, what made it even moreso is that Morgan, a boilermaker by trade, has purpose built all the metalwork directing their crops through the process.
Hops add depth and character to beer brews, and the combination of Morgan, Karen and Jade brings just as much depth to the operation.
While Morgan brings his boilermaking expertise along with the experience of his late father's dairy farm, Karen said she was more of the organiser, admin, sales and marketing. Jade's background is in the brewing side of things as well as permaculture.
Many would already know of Ryefield's side project of fields of sunflowers, planted adjacent to the hops and earning a bit of income while they wait for harvest time.
Shortly it will be all systems go during a brief but very intensive harvest. Ryefield's hops are used primarily by brewers in specialty craft beers, and even individuals.
However due to their expansion and potential for increased supply, they said they hoped to eventually get into brewers' core lines.
Senator Molan said while initially he had been surprised that the package designed for job creation had granted dollars to Ryefield, seeing the growth and "downstream job creation" in freight, contractors, seasonal workers and the casual workforce, he was more than impressed.
"The innovation and energy of people here is amazing," he said.
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