Mid-Winter Update / by Kathy Dunbar

Winter has set in at Freestyle Farms, there is snow on the surrounding mountains, and we are deep into our off season construction projects.  We are adding a venting system to the kiln shed to increase efficiency and improve quality, by reducing humidity above the drying hops.  This should allow the hops to dry faster at lower temperatures and further reduce any potential stewing effect.  We're building out the final section of garden on the property, up near the dam, further increasing the acreage we will have planted this coming season.  Our new pellet plant arrived and was commissioned last week.  We’ve been packaging the first test runs off the pellet plant with a completely manual packaging line that we plan to ultimately use for mini-bales and experimental stuff.  We're really excited by the quality of hop pellets we can produce already and are now working methodically through the process of getting it really dialed in!  I've included a few photos of the initial pellet runs.  We're hoping to have pellet samples (NZ Cascade and Motueka) from these initial runs landing in Long Beach in the next 6 weeks and will get them out for feedback ASAP.  Our fully automated production packaging line will arrive in a couple of months, and we'll do another pellet plant run with that later in the year.  

We’re really pleased with the Nelson Sauvin and Southern Cross we’ve got in our nursery that will go into the ground this spring.  The plants look healthy and big, with well-developed root systems.  This seaso, we will continue to expand our fertigated acrg and experiment with nutrient regimes aimed at maximizing flavour and aroma.  W'e laying the groundwork to do some interesting research ver the next few years n amplifying the flavours and aromas that are characteristic to our unique terroir.

Temperatures have been dropping in the last weeks, with some good hard frosts, just what the plants need to perform well in spring!  Below are some photos of the venting system being installed, the ew arden being built out, and of the pellet plant commissioning.