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Hop Farm community growing project creates Deal's very own beer

By Eleanor Perkins

Speed and efficiency will be key in the first hop harvest of Deal’s very own beer, next Thursday.

Deal With It, the local green community group, launched Deal Hop Farm – a community hop-growing project – in January this year.

Since then, the voluntary group has grown to a patchwork farm of 130 sites in peoples’ gardens, allotments and community spaces, including English Heritage’s kitchen garden at Walmer Castle.

Deal Hop Farm harvested its hops yesterday and brewing began today
Deal Hop Farm harvested its hops yesterday and brewing began today

With almost 200 people involved, it has become one of the largest community growing projects in the country.

Members are now preparing for their first harvest on Thursday, September 14.

Steve Wakeford, from Deal Hop Farm said: “The project has gone brilliantly and thanks to our enthusiastic hoppers we are well placed for an excellent first year’s crop.

“The harvest is going to be great fun as well as quite challenging as we are attempting to harvest on one day across all our sites.

“The idea is to pick our hops on Thursday from 3pm and have them available for brewing very early on Friday, by our partners at the Ripple Steam Brewery.

“The Landmark Garden in Deal High Street will be our main base for people to drop off their picked hops for weighing.

“We will also have hop pickers in the garden takin hops off vines where people are away.”

Volunteer hop pickers are welcome and are advised to wear long sleeves.

Mr Wakeford continued: “As we don’t have an Oast House just yet, our hops will not be dried but used as green hops to give a massive flavour burst to our beer – named by members as Hopping Mad (Made Around Deal), which will be available in the town from the end of October.”

Mark Brent, English Heritage’s head gardener at Walmer Castle and Gardens, said: “From the beginning the objectives of Deal Hop Farm have been to learn, nurture and grow hops, with the prospect of some quality beer as an eventual outcome.

“What has been equally pleasurable to witness is its role in growing new friendships among the community too.

“Taking part in this project has been a great experience.

“I am very pleased to have been able to support Deal Hop Farm and look forward to doing so in future.”

David Cliff, head brewer at Ripple Steam Brewery, said: “We are very supportive of this fantastic community hop-growing scheme and are looking forward to be brewing a special green hop beer using the Deal Hop Farm’s freshly harvested hops.”

For more details visit www.dealwithit.org.uk, email info@dealhopfarm.org.uk or phone 01304 372673.

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