Episode #014 – Getting Hoppy Like a Fox! at Fox Valley Farm and Hopyard

Jen, Mike, and Jeff in the hop field

In this episode, we sit down with Mike and Jennifer Fox along with Jeff who is a valuable team member and friend at Fox Valley Farm and Hopyard. They have an interesting story of traveling the country then settling down in the town of Apopka, FL to open a dream family farm. One of Mike and Jen’s sons, Gabe has followed their path and recently started an egg company with their many chickens that roam the premise.

While hops are still a new venture for Florida, the Fox family is joining this pioneering adventure with their very own hop farm that is having its first harvest. Here is their story.

Below we have provided some show notes to follow along with if you would like. Besides hosting our podcast here on the website, we also have it streaming on Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play, and Tune In.

Show Notes

1:00 – Learn how this farm got started from the beginning. During an RV tour, they started a search for a piece of land for the next adventure. The stumbled upon a house with their name on it and knew this was their place to stay.

4:00 – Mike’s good friend Jeff got them introduced into the idea of growing a hop farm. Still, a new mystery among farming, Florida has been having success and they were ready to be a part of this new adventure.

6:04 – Starting in July, they had to battle a lot of heat and a lot of work to get this hopyard started. A few doors down is Jeremy who was able to help them with setup and has become another valuable member of the team. He knew this land like the back of his hand was a big help in guiding their development.

No hop farm has the “perfect” setup but they were able to create a nice design for their farm.

11:10 – They had spent quite a bit of time in the past in Apopka, so coming back was kind of like a home base for their three sons.

13:00 – The goal is to be self-sufficient. They are working on an orchard, they have the chickens for eggs, and constantly being innovative to be able to live off their own land.

14:40- The small family farm movement is growing while large farming is dying off. They knew there would be challenges along the way but starting a farm definitely had its challenges. Despite the challenges, they just absolutely love every minute of this farming venture.

Fox Valley Hops

17:26 – Jeff talks about how he got interested in the hop farm idea. There is still the idea that it is not possible and Fox Valley is evidence that it is possible. It’s a new challenge and while there are a few hop farms in Florida, there is a lot of learning taking place.

20:00 – Eventually they want to open a vineyard and start home brewing beer with the hops.

22:05 – Being such a niche, there is a ton of network support among the local farmers. Among the people at Fox Valley though, they all have such different expertise that joining together has been wonderful.

26:00 – Mike and Jen still work in the medical field while Jeff is from corporate America.

26:34 – This month marks their first harvest of hops. With just under half an acre and 1,440 bines in the yard. They are growing Cascade, Zeus, Nugget, Comet, and Cashmere. The Cashmere sem to take their time while Cascade is growing fast.

28:10 – There is a lot of challenges they have to fight with when growing the hops. One of the big struggles is weeds.

29:30 – Fox Valley is experimenting with some different strategies of light control. Simulating clouds and the extra light is some different techniques. It is a bit of trial and error to see when its best to explore different techniques with the hops.

36:00 – Getting breweries on board is a bit of struggle still. Many are concerned with consistency, cost, and work involved with using wet hops. Yet, some brewers are very excited to “hop” on board.

38:05 – Eventually the tasting room at Fox Valley will be there to provide tastings of the hops. They plan to brew some batches of beer so the brewers can taste the flavor profile.

42:30 – Fox Valley has many future plans and we are looking forward to seeing their growth.

Thanks for listening

If you have enjoyed listening to this episode we are certain you like listening to our episode with Florida Hops LLC and Central Florida Hops. We appreciate you stopping by and checking this episode out.

The Pool Boy

A lover of all things food and beverage related, Ron Nattress is on the constant hunt to learn and experience all he can. A man of many hats, he takes his passion from grain to glass to readers.

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