hops

Andrew McFarlane / Creative Commons

A new non-profit association is trying to strengthen the supply chain of Michigan-grown hops.

Hops are one of the main ingredients in beer. The plants grow vertically, up to 25 feet or more, so you don’t need a huge farm to grow one of the main ingredients in beer.

Rick Chapla is vice president of business development at The Right Place, an economic development group based in Grand Rapids. He sees real potential for urban farmers to try growing hops.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This month, we’re looking into some of the hidden assets of the Midwest – the parts of our economy that don’t often get noticed when we talk about our strengths (the first part of the series is here). Agriculture is one of the biggest drivers of local economies in the Midwest – it accounts for billions of dollars worth of exports and thousands of jobs. There’s been a lot of concern about whether enough young people are going into farming these days. But the ag industry goes well beyond being just farming – and plenty of young people are interested in that.

At Navy Pier, a special meeting of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences’s FFA chapter is being called to order. Ringed around the room, one by one, chapter officers check in during the traditional opening ceremony. It ends when President and Senior Jennifer Nelson asks her fellow FFA members: “Why are we here?”

The students stand and chant in unison: “To practice brotherhood, honor agriculture opportunities and responsibilities, and develop those qualities of leadership that an FFA member should possess.”