A NEW ORGANIC FARM
The Worthy brand has long stood for sustainability. For years, Worthy Brewing has incorporated Earth-friendly practices that support our local economy and decrease our carbon foot print: solar power, smart recycling, biodegradable packaging, composting, waste reduction and repurposing - all while using our platform to educate via the Worthy Garden Club
But as we delved further into the world of sustainability, we began to wonder at our higher purpose. Do we just want to make beer? Or do we want to make a community? What can we give back to Central Oregon to make our world a better place? How can we inspire others to put the sweet back into “home sweet home?”
Inspiration comes in many forms, and this one arrived in organic fashion, if you don’t mind the pun. Worthy Brewing’s longtime partnership with Oregon State University began years ago with the birth of the hop research yard and support of OSU’s hop breeding program. It was a natural fit. But we strived to go further.
Enter Netflix and Professor James Cassidy. Inspired by the moving documentary film Kiss the Ground, we discovered the revolutionary work of “soil farming” was taking place in our own backyard. OSU’s Cassidy, grad student turned research assistant turned instructor and now professor, helped found and develop the OSU ORGANIC GROWER'S CLUB in 2000. For the last 21 years, he’s been volunteering his personal time to turn the operation from a squatter’s revolution against conventional agriculture into a hands-on, experiential learning, student organic farm and successful CSA.
From the minute you meet him, you can tell Cassidy has found his life’s passion. He lives and breathes SOIL. Not only is he one of the most popular professors on campus, Cassidy is also a bass player for the multi-platinum 1980s rock band INFORMATION SOCIETY. We were over the moon when we called this loam-loving rock star to ask for his help and he agreed. “I don’t think we could have found a more natural fit for this new chapter,” says Worthy’s horticulturist, Lisa Sanco. “We’re sad to see the Al Haunold Hop Yard go, but we’re thrilled to replace it with a garden that will yield fresh food, a thriving ecosystem and endless teaching opportunities.”
In 2013, Worthy Garden Club began with a focus on local hop production and research. Eight years later, we’re shifting our focus to a larger picture: sustainable agriculture and food networks. In partnership with OSU and under the guidance of Professor James Cassidy, we’ll begin transitioning our hop yard into a beautiful, small-scale, organic farm this spring with an emphasis on quality food, public education and the wonders of soil.
Cassidy is optimistic about the scope of the project. 'It’s like when an ink droplet hits the water and fans out. Twenty years ago I dropped a little garden in Corvallis, and that farm is spreading out, all the way to Bend and, we hope, beyond. Wherever’s there’s dirt, there’s the potential for soil, and wherever there’s healthy soil, there’s the promise of beauty, health and life.”
As we transition the hop yard into a working farm over the next several months, we will be searching for partners and volunteers, so stay tuned. “We’ve long described Worthy as a place for epiphanies,” says Roger Worthington, the President of Worthy Garden Club and owner of Worthy Brewing. “We built a hopservatory to encourage visitors to look into the vast cosmos and contemplate the origin of life. Now we’re building a farm-garden to encourage a dive down below to learn about the wonders of life-giving soil.”
As a show of its appreciation, Worthy Garden Club will be sponsoring the OSU Organic Grower’s Club with a gift of $50,000 over the next three years.
Healthy Food Production
The garden will feature fresh, flavorful produce just steps away from the kitchen. We’ll aim to provide our pub with high-quality food, and we intend to sell or trade any surplus. It doesn’t get any more local than that.
We’ll harness regenerative and organic farming practices to capture and preserve soil carbon as well as support beneficial and native insect populations to reduce pesticide use.
It’s all about the soil. The Worthy garden will showcase how symbiotic microbial relationships enhance the fertility, diversity and durability of our soil, leading to healthier and more abundant crops without the use of synthetic inputs. It’ll be more about ranching microbes than farming!
We’ll focus on closed-loop systems like deploying composted, nutrient-rich chicken manure from our on-site coop as a natural fertilizer.
Although we will call the farm “organic” at the outset, it will take a few years before we can certify the ourselves as organic consistent with National Organic Program standards.
The Worthy farm will be an accessible demonstration of soil health and evidence-based growing methods for small producers in Central Oregon, featuring an onsite propagation greenhouse, three high-tunnels and uncovered raised and open beds.
We want to open the garden up as a living classroom to help build community through tours, volunteer support, periodic guest speakers and informal, hands-on instruction.
Updated signage following every step of the project’s development will provide a storyline and learning opportunity to our neighbors and brewery customers, while permanent signage upon completion will highlight sustainable farm practices in relation to soil and pollinator health.
Worthy Brewing will continue to prove that incorporating sustainable practices is good for business as well as our community and culture. We’re committed to transparency, accessibility and collaboration.
Without healthy soil, we cannot feed a growing population. The Worthy Organic Farm will be a living classroom on how to scale up sensible farming practices to address large global problems that scientists like OSU’s BILL RIPPLE have been warning us about for decades: climate change, pollution, topsoil and freshwater depletion, biodiversity loss and broken food systems.
Farm & Dairy
Three high tunnels will extend our growing season and increase yields to supply Worthy Brewing's pub with fresh, clean produce just steps from the kitchen.
A raised bed will pull existing features through to the new garden with a colorful rotation of herbs, edible flowers and specialty crops.
An additional open-air growing field will supplement summer production for the kitchen.
Pollinator-friendly features throughout the garden, including a large perennial swale between high tunnels #2 & #3.
What is a farm without chickens? Of course we'll have a chicken coop. We're already thinking of beer-themed names. Amber? Stout?