The Trowbridge family, owners of Top Hops Farm in Goodrich, Michigan, recently welcomed Jamie Clover Adams, the director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to tour the 10.5-acre commercial hopyard.
In 2013, the farm was verified in the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program's (MAEAP) Farmstead and Cropping systems. MAEAP is a voluntary program started by farmers, commodity groups, state and federal agencies, and environmental groups to educate farmers on best management practices to help the environment.
MAEAP has four systems in which farms can be verified with Top Hops Farm currently verified in two of the four. The Farmstead System is open to all farms and the Cropping System is open to farms with field crops, fruit orchards, greenhouses and ornamental trees. The other two systems are the Livestock Verification which covers all livestock farms and the Forest, Wetlands and Habitat System which is especially for landowners whose property does not fall under traditional agriculture production.
Each verification includes education, farm-specific risk assessment and practice implementation, and on farm verification. During the verification process, MAEAP makes sure farmers can both take care of their land and make a living off their land while still implementing environmental practices.
“[MAEAP verification] projects a good image to our community and customers,” said Mark Trowbridge, who operates Top Hops Farm with his son, Sean. “We were able to learn some things that make us more efficient in our practices.”
Top Hops Farm currently grows seven different hop varieties including Cascade, Chinook, Centennial, Cashmere, Mt. Rainier, Columbia, and Tahoma and is expanding to 16.5 acres this year because of their success in the hops industry, selling to over 30 local breweries.