After a visit from Farmer and Grower magazine in September and subsequent article on Hukins Hops and our growing business, we are proud to announce Hukins Hops has been nominated for ‘Arable Innovator of the year 2017’.
A TV documentary producer recently rang Kent hop farmer Ross Hukins about coming to film on his land. As the last hop growers in the Tenterden area, they wanted people to sit on straw bales reminiscing about the old days when pickers from London and Essex would arrive in cart loads for the September harvest.
Ross says: “I got slightly irritated because everything you see or read in the mainstream media on hops seems to be about nostalgia and the past. As I told them, we’re a modern hop farm, part of an industry which is looking forwards, not backwards; adapting to meet the consumer demands of the 21stcentury.”
Ross is one of a small but highly motivated number of specialist English hop producers who are helping revive a sector which 20 years ago was withering on the bine. But although he is proud of his roots as a fourth-generation hop farmer, he admits for a time he looked elsewhere for a career.
“Our family have been farming in this area for about a century,” he says.
“My grandfather farmed 500 acres and then split the farm up between his sons.
“My uncle sold up but my father Peter continued to farm 250 acres as a mixed farmer. He had arable, 6,000 turkeys, a flock of Romneys and the hop gardens.
“As a boy I loved working out in the fields with him, but by time I was 16 I could see he was permanently stressed and the whole thing looked like a financial struggle. So I studied economics at Newcastle University, took a masters in real estate finance and worked in the City of London writing strategies for large estates.”
But for Ross it remained something he felt little affinity for, despite earning four times what he does now, and five years ago he began contemplating a return to the family business.
“I kept coming back to the farm and the hops were still here. They were the one thing we didn’t get rid of. I’d always made my own beer for fun and always wanted to be self-employed.
Read the full article here…