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Old 09-08-2013, 05:49 PM   #1
allynlyon
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Default Urban Hop Growing? Problems? ideas?

If you have seen any of my other threads you'll know that I have been bitten by this hop growing bug. I love these plants. I don't know what it is that makes them so fun to grow but after growing 8 successful rhizomes this year I have decided I'd like to expand.

I was giving starting a small hop farm consideration but I don't live on enough land and farm land is at an all time high for purchasing.

I had almost gave up on the idea and was just going to grow 12 more plants on my own property, but then I remembered seeing a documentary about vacant lots in Detroit that were turned into gardens. This got me to thinking I wonder if I could pull this off for hops as well? There are several vacant lots being sold at county surplus auctions every quarter here in Indy. It's a cheap way to get a hold of land and also force myself to start small, perfecting my process, and not trying to build to big to fast.

I know in Indiana there is a concern with lead in the soil so I know I would need to have soil tested. I am completely unfamiliar with how zoning works but from what I am reading this would be considered "green space" so it doesn't appear to be regulated.. that being said I want to be 100% sure.

I was wondering if there are any issues I hadn't thought of, any advice, or anyone out there who might have done this before. Thanks in advance.


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Old 09-09-2013, 02:56 PM   #2
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Sounds intriguing.

Only thing I can think of is irrigating during the dry periods.

We also have community gardens here. I may look into if 'permanent' structures are permitted. I have seen pole-bean supports.
(They provide 275GAL totes of water on site)

Thank You for the great idea,
'da Kid


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Old 09-09-2013, 06:27 PM   #3
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I haven't done the "urban" part but from the standpoint of small scale farming, let me give you my thoughts. Of course the first thought is "go for it". It sounds like fun.

OK, the potential problems:
  • Zoning: I have no idea what the rules are but don't forget you are putting up a 16 or more foot trellis. An overly eager building inspector may declare that a structure and require a permit.
  • Our farm, in the middle of nowhere, has extra insurance for all the Looky-Lucy and Trespassing-Toms who are "just interested". In an urban environment, plan on the general public treating it like a public park including playing on the trellis. Count on extra damage and possible lawsuit.
  • We get an "ag land" tax rate. You may want to see if that is possible in your municipality.
  • Be careful that what you buy can't be taken away by the city or others. Otherwise, you drop the money into development and they take it away as if it were a vacant lot.
  • As previously mentioned, irrigation, pesticides, herbicide, nutrient application may be a problem due to distance between lots and neighbors not wanting anything sprayed.
  • Who knows what your neighbors will be spraying around. In the country, we need to inform each other of what is going on the fields. Not so in the city.
  • Harvest may be a bit tricky running all over town. But harvest always is.
  • Be prepared for the "just 1 question" people to be chewing up too much of your time. You'll get it even worse than we do because of location. Our policy is that people can ask a question as long as they are weeding/picking/digging/whatever at the time.

Oh and the biggest problem is that if you do become successful, expect government intervention. Either new taxes or regulation from the city/county/state or some other way to get you. As soon as our business started to take off, the state of Wisconsin required a food processing license...yeah, a lot more cost and fees.

Good luck.
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:17 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by GVH_Dan View Post
I haven't done the "urban" part but from the standpoint of small scale farming, let me give you my thoughts. Of course the first thought is "go for it". It sounds like fun.

OK, the potential problems:
  • Zoning: I have no idea what the rules are but don't forget you are putting up a 16 or more foot trellis. An overly eager building inspector may declare that a structure and require a permit.
  • Our farm, in the middle of nowhere, has extra insurance for all the Looky-Lucy and Trespassing-Toms who are "just interested". In an urban environment, plan on the general public treating it like a public park including playing on the trellis. Count on extra damage and possible lawsuit.
  • We get an "ag land" tax rate. You may want to see if that is possible in your municipality.
  • Be careful that what you buy can't be taken away by the city or others. Otherwise, you drop the money into development and they take it away as if it were a vacant lot.
  • As previously mentioned, irrigation, pesticides, herbicide, nutrient application may be a problem due to distance between lots and neighbors not wanting anything sprayed.
  • Who knows what your neighbors will be spraying around. In the country, we need to inform each other of what is going on the fields. Not so in the city.
  • Harvest may be a bit tricky running all over town. But harvest always is.
  • Be prepared for the "just 1 question" people to be chewing up too much of your time. You'll get it even worse than we do because of location. Our policy is that people can ask a question as long as they are weeding/picking/digging/whatever at the time.

Oh and the biggest problem is that if you do become successful, expect government intervention. Either new taxes or regulation from the city/county/state or some other way to get you. As soon as our business started to take off, the state of Wisconsin required a food processing license...yeah, a lot more cost and fees.

Good luck.
These are all great things to think about. Some of which I had thought of already, but not to the depth you put forward here. Especially the government aspect. I had considered the idea of people coming to "play" in the garden and assumed that fencing would be a necessary cost (not that, that will keep people out, but hopefully would be deterring). I appreciate your assistance here it's given me a lot to think about.
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Old 09-10-2013, 01:34 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by allynlyon View Post
These are all great things to think about. Some of which I had thought of already, but not to the depth you put forward here. Especially the government aspect. I had considered the idea of people coming to "play" in the garden and assumed that fencing would be a necessary cost (not that, that will keep people out, but hopefully would be deterring). I appreciate your assistance here it's given me a lot to think about.
Be selective about your fencing. First, it can get expensive. Second, you want people to see what's going on so they can talk about it and talk to their favorite brewers. If you put up 10 foot fences, the first assumption will be illegal activity and then you will have the wrong people coming into your yard.

I would think a 3 foot fence with very artsy "No Trespassing" signs put up would work. Something that states they aren't allowed in but isn't the menacing black on yellow. You'll probably have to put up a few other signs describing what you are doing and what they are looking at.

Then there are neighborhood associations...depending on where you are, you better make sure they don't put up a stink.
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Old 09-11-2013, 12:29 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by GVH_Dan View Post
Be selective about your fencing. First, it can get expensive. Second, you want people to see what's going on so they can talk about it and talk to their favorite brewers. If you put up 10 foot fences, the first assumption will be illegal activity and then you will have the wrong people coming into your yard.

I would think a 3 foot fence with very artsy "No Trespassing" signs put up would work. Something that states they aren't allowed in but isn't the menacing black on yellow. You'll probably have to put up a few other signs describing what you are doing and what they are looking at.

Then there are neighborhood associations...depending on where you are, you better make sure they don't put up a stink.
You read my mind. I kept going back and forth. Tall fences create an mystery for people and there is a drive to climb them but when they see that nothing exciting is going on there then it loses it's appeal.

I'm trying to put together a business plan and lay out any expense I can think of currently or potential problem so this has been really helpful.


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