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From Barley to the Brew

Something is brewing at Hutchison Brothers Farm in Cordova. In a move to diversify, Travis Hutchison, a fourth-generation farmer who farms with his family members, has ventured into a relatively untapped market within the agricultural sector — cultivating 100 acres of malted barley expressly for the burgeoning craft beer industry.

“With our sandier ground, we can produce barley better than wheat,” Travis says. “When the malting industry came to the area, we wanted to support it so we would have another market for barley.” In addition to malted barley, the farm also grows corn, soybeans, feed barley, wheat, peas and baby lima beans.

The decision to grow malted barley was not made on a whim. With Maryland’s craft beer industry experiencing growth, the demand for high-quality, locally sourced ingredients has steadily increased. “We contract to grow for a malting house. They malt the barley and then send it to the breweries,” he adds.

Travis’s barley fields are a testament to innovation meeting tradition. Employing a blend of traditional farming techniques and modern sustainable farming practices, he is not only contributing to the local economy but is also taking significant strides in environmental stewardship.

“We always try to follow best management practices. All of our barley this year was either planted no-till or minimum tilled. We will split our nitrogen applications at least three or four times throughout the season so that we are feeding the plants when they need it throughout the growing season,” Travis says. “Doing so not only creates higher yields, but also reduces nutrient runoff into the Chesapeake Bay.”

For local craft breweries, malted barley signifies a partnership in promoting local agriculture and reducing the carbon footprint associated with transporting ingredients over long distances, making each sip of beer a testament to the land and to the enduring spirit of local farmers like Travis and his family.

Hungry for more? Read about a farm brewery in Harford County. Learn more. Watch this video about Hutchison Brothers Farm.

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