With the ever increasing interest in locally produced foods and homesteading skills, the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District is presenting a series of informational talks in Warrensburg on agricultural topics. The presentations are free and open to anyone with an interest. For reservations contact Nick Rowell at (518)623-3119 or firstname.lastname@example.org, as seating is limited.
The next two talks, on hops growing and soil health, will be Friday, March 28th from 6 pm to 8 pm at the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Warrensburg Office at 232 Golf Course Road. Future talks are planned for May.
Hops was once a staple crop of New York farmers, but production ended about 50 years ago and the last beer made with all New York hops was produced in the 1950s. That is until 2004 when the first new beer was brewed with all New York hops. Today a small amount of hops are being grown in Washington and Warren counties for use in the Adirondack and Paradox breweries.
In Northern New York hops were an important supplemental crop for local farms and hop picking provided income for women and children as well. Mrs. Henry Fadden wrote a poem about hop-picking:
I went picking hops and though I worked with a will,
I had to go back with my box half filled.To find my house in disorder, my dishes unwashed.
The children were sleepy, my husband was cross;
And because I didn’t get the supper before I swept the floor,
He kicked the poor dog and slammed the back door.
And said that if I would leaving picking hops alone,
He would give me a job of picking stone.
His advice was unheeded, I refused with disdain,
And resolved the next day to try it again.
Convinced if only I would do my best,
I could pick hops as fast as the rest.
But the weather was cold and I almost froze.
My fingers were numb and cold were my toes.
Thus for five long days I labored and toiled,
My work was neglected, my temper was spoiled.
And though you may think my experience funny,
I am resolved in the future to let the men earn the money.
Photo: Franklin County hop pickers (c 1900).