Mary Woodruff is the Domestic Farms Representative here at Mountain Rose Herbs. She works closely with our small organic farmers and wildcrafters in the US to source, grow, and harvest the most beautifully vibrant herbs here in our own backyard. Mary was raised in Eugene where she also lived and worked on a sustainable off-the-grid farm raising goats, growing fresh produce, canning, and making goat cheese. She just returned from a trip to our organic hop farm with a story to share...
Emerging from the freeway onto a winding country road the air is warm, the sun shining, and a beautiful curved roof barn comes into view. Just past this, I see rows and rows of cascading hops—the mature cones dripping down. Our organic hop farmer stepped out from the house that’s been in his family for generations to greet us with a warm smile.
As I wandered around the Mountain Rose Hop Farm, the vines spread up around me into the sky. Growing up in Eugene, I have always been familiar with the prickly wandering plant. It takes training and coaxing for the vines to appear as I see them —so much work. Listening to the farmer muse about the intricacies of this year’s growing season, I can see the pride in his exhausted face. This plant has been the life source of his family for many decades and he knows its complexities well.
We examined the new crop together and he taught me how to determine ripeness. The pollen should be bright yellow and sticky when torn open with a distinctive smell of Alpha acids which create the different levels of bitterness between varieties of hops. We toured the breeding greenhouse, where he’s been experimenting with crossing the plants’ genealogies. Our crop for this year was so full, green, and vibrant. Hundreds of pounds and almost a dozen acres of lovely organic Fugguls, Cascades, and more!
After we opened and smelled dozens of mature cones, a peaceful sensation filled my body and I was very much at ease. Medicinally, hops are a wonderfully bitter sedative. The Alpha content is what determines the bitterness. There are varieties with a lower alpha-content that are perfect to use before sleep. Mountain Rose teas and formulas usually contain these hops.
I feel very lucky to be the Domestic Farms Representative for Mountain Rose Herbs. I have met amazingly goodhearted people that are out working with the earth to grow high quality herbs for our customers. We know that plants are beneficial to our health, but I truly believe that the energy we put into them while they are alive and growing has an enormous impact on the end product – our food and medicine. Farmers harvest a culmination of their hard work. We take pride in having this connectedness and loving energy in all of the herbs we offer to our customers. Close relationships with our farmers enables us to guarantee this.
Try some of the only certified organic hops out there grown by people who care!