New York State Hop Farmers and Thinking Like a Founder


Like many avid gardeners, I harbor a secret belief that I can someday make money on gardening’s big brother, farming. Since The Doctor and I have somewhat recently come into some acreage in Madison County, NY, my fantasy of someday becoming a gentleman farmer, growing hops (barley’s bitter buddy in brewing beers) is starting to become even more realistic – or at least in the realm of reality.

So, in an effort to educate myself a bit on the process and atmosphere of hop farming in the Northeast, I shelled out to be a remote webinar attendee for this year’s conference of the Northeast Hop Alliance. I learned a lot, and you can look for future blog posts on this topic, and I think there’s a disruption opportunity in boutique aroma hops, but that’s for another day.

One of the speakers, Rick Pedersen of Pedersen Farms, had a lot of great, practical advice about how to plant posts and burn crowns, but his mindset, especially when advising younger farmers, struck me as equally valuable for today’s entrepreneurs, wantrepreneurs, and future founders. That advice was this:

Plan to be big enough to be relevant. 

This really resonated with me – if you’re going to build a business, whether it’s agricultural or technology or distribution, plan to be big enough that people will care. Make your plans too big to ignore. With size comes efficiency and a certain practical inability to be ignored. If you want to make a difference in your industry and in your community, don’t plan for small things. Demand this of yourself.

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