Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hops (as other local produce) require dirt to grow. Who knew?

Last March the Bells Bend blogger at Sulphur Creek Farm hinted at the hop project they were working on with local micro-brewer Yazoo Brewing Company:

I came home from hospital rounds to an empty bean-pot, and at least eight bean-stained bowls. Tom, Jim, Keith, Keith's friend, Sumter, and maybe Joe spent most of the day in the drizzle, laying down mulch, planting hops, and hanging string vine supports

Fast forward to last week, which seemed like happy harvest time for both Sulphur Creek and Yazoo families:

Came home yesterday to hops harvest: Keith's second year crop looks really good. Tom hoisted someone with a machete up in the tractor's front end loader to cut the strings and bring the vines down.

By the time I arrived, folks were gathered in front of the shed (ok, around the beer cooler) pulling the flowers off the vines--fragrant green thumb-sized stacks of petals. Yazoo plans to use the hops fresh for a small run of Bells Bend Ale ....

Linus and Lila Hall from Yazoo Brewery, and their two blonde daughters, were on hand ....

First hops harvest! And our thanks to the good folks at Yazoo, whose products have promoted social interaction (and some fundraising!) at the farm for many years.

Supporting local agriculture and local business is a good thing. I checked with Yazoo owner Linus Hall who says that Bells Bend Ale will be available in about three weeks.

Would this unique venture be possible if the Planning Commission and Metro Council had approved Jack May's rezoning scheme to sprawl a "second Downtown" across his and other partners' large holdings on the Bend with contempt for the community plan? Would a rural-scale partnership producing for a small batch micro-brew be possible with large bridges providing choking vehicular traffic over the Cumberland River to the Bend via the Charlotte Park neighborhood and points farther west?

While it may not fit urban Nashville, this is the kind of diverse, locally structured enterprise that the Scottsboro-Bells Bend community plan seems to promote. So, why ruin a good thing with city scale and urban density? Maybe because you believe that Bells Bend's unique lifeworld does not rise much above the level of dirt:

May, the owner of lots of dirt in the rural West Nashville community, tried in vain last year to gain approval of the Metro Council to have a four billion dollar privately funded mixed-use development to be named May Town.
Guess the dirty hippies didn't get their invitations.
While the developer of that project decided it wasn't worth the hassle, May is stubbornly sticking to the plan of turning the sleepy Bells Bend community into a thriving mini-metropolis [instead of a venue for "dirty hippies"].

Maybe this particular commentator won't be purchasing Bells Bend Ale since it does not produce as many jobs as a corporate savior would, but I intend to buy some and not just because Yazoo makes great beer. This is an enterprise that I would like to see deepen and grow. Watch for Bells Bend Ale and support our local agriculture by buying some in a few weeks.

And do a little rain dance for our friends in the Bells Bend Neighborhood Farms project. I understand their crops could use some rain.

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