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Join the hopyard team! 


Join the Olson & Son Hopyard team with the second annual springtime hopyard tee. Designed by my wife and Liam’s mom, these Gildan cotton tees are locally printed just 5 miles away from the hopyard here in East Providence Rhode Island.

Click here for our online shop. Shirts available in adult sizes from Sm to 3-XL. Get yours now in time for your beer festival season!

Made on Honor Market Weekend.

Since there is a non-zero percent chance that someone may be here because I handed you a business card at this weekend’s Narragansett Beer’s ‘Made on Honor’ Market at The Guild Brewery in Pawtucket RI, I thought I’d put up a quick welcome post.

So hello! Thanks for visiting, I generally am terrible at keeping a website and a blog, but I Instagram a lot. So if you want to know what’s going with us from one day to the next you should get us there @olsonandsonhopyard.

If you want the history you should read this article I wrote for Draft Magazine.

I have a Facebook page and you can find it but I really don’t use Facebook other than to advertise the Field Day event I throw every year in August. You should come by next year, it’s a really good time.

I do have plans for utilizing this space in better ways next year, but I make no promises.

Thanks again for visiting, I appreciate it.

A New Start?

Hello! If you are here for the first time because of the DRAFT Magazine article (and since I never really used this space very much before, you probably are) welcome! We’re happy your here.

Thank you.

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If you’ve read said article, then you know the broad strokes of our story. It’s a long story, it doesn’t really fit just one place I guess. Here’s a bit of an online list of where you can find some of the pieces.

If you’d like to know more about Liam, and our family’s journey through the NICU and PICU, as well as learning to navigate home life with complex health care needs, you can poke around at my blog, PressureSupport.com. You could also give a listen to the latest episode of the podcast The One In A Million Baby, which I was a guest on and explained a good deal about our family situation.

The Blog is what led to the Twitter feed which is why my handle there is @PressureSupport. I don’t tweet much lately.  I’ll jump in and out from time to time, but ultimately it’s not my thing. I did snatch up the handle @olsonandsonhops but it doesn’t get used.  I think it’s only tweets are from when I post here and so, yeah. It never gets used.

Now instagram is where the Olson & Son Hopyard lives. It was integral in us becoming what we are today. I wish my activity here was what I do on instagram because it can be very limiting in telling the stories I want to tell about the things I photograph. I do think that if the WordPress App were more user friendly on iphone I probably would use this space the way I use instagram to tell our story. Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that if you really want to know whats going on in the day to day here at the hopyard, Instagram is where you can do that.

I don’t have a facebook.  Never have. I know. The thing is, I think I probably should open a hopyard page there. But I would rather be out in the yard working a shovel than sitting with a laptop. As you can see above, I already play on instagram far more often than I should. Please, someone comment below and tell me that I don’t have to have a facebook page to run a small business that depends on social media.

The online shop, the link can be found in the header at the top of the page. Currently we are featuring our brand new spring t-shirt. Get yours now! 

And then there’s this space. I still don’t know how to effectively use this space but I’m jumping back in, because why not? Working with DRAFT came about through the instagram page, but it also reminded me that I’m not particularly terrible as a writer and why not keep sharing my season with blog stories of our work. It’s gotten me this far.

So . . . Welcome.

Thank you for coming by.

 

Cheers.

Happy New Year . 

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Happy New Year from us all at Olson & Son Hopyard. Apart from an illness that had me in the hospital for harvest, 2016 was an incredible year and a huge step forward for the hopyard, and we’ve got plenty of reasons to believe that 2017 will yield bigger and better results. Thank you all so much for your support and interest in our weird little hopyard. 

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I hope that as you look back on your year that the good outweighed the bad and that you see some hope and potential in the year ahead. 

And please, please, please stay safe and play responsibly out there tonight, I’ll be at home watching movies with my wife and son. Cheers! 

Commitment 

So this happened tonight. 

We’ve been through a lot in 2016, but in so many different ways most of what we’ve been through this year has simply reaffirmed our resolve in turning our crazy little hopyard into something bigger. Something that gives us stability, that shows our roots, something – to give us hope. 

This is my symbol of that hope. A symbol of this place (the anchor being the major element on the Rhode Island state flag). A symbol of that stability. Now I get to remind myself of that commitment every time I look down at my arm. 

Time to get to work on an even better 2017.

Cheers. 

Where we’re at


These silly Chinooks. We’ve had unseasonably warm weather lately, the hops think it’s spring! Sprouting rhizome growth while I’m trying to put them to to bed for the winter. 

Let’s be honest, as much as I’d like to change this, the only internet presence of the Olson & Son Hopyard exists on Instagram. I keep writing but not so much with the posting. I’ll fix it, but until I do check out Instagram for all things hopyard. 

We’ll talk soon. 

Welcome!!


Hello and welcome to the Olson & Son Hopyard website. If you are visiting thanks to the recent Rhode Island Monthly Magazine article ( which can be read here) please have a look around and follow us for more updates throughout the fall. 

Some recent health issues have slightly delayed the opening of our online store which will feature our inventory of t-shirts, beer glasses, some hops and our annual sale of handmade hop bine holiday wreaths. We appreciate your patience as we work hard to bring the store up as soon as possible. 


Again thank you so much for visiting Olsonandsonhopyard.com we appreciate your interest and support and look forward to providing quality hopyard products and continuing to share our story. 


Cheers, 

Eric. 

A Trying Week

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Her name is Willamette and she wears a crown of cones

The hopyard exploded this week. Burrs exploded into three inch long cones. First year bines all of a sudden completely covered in bursts of burrs. And despite getting some camera time a few nights ago, I missed it.  A bummer for sure, and tonight I am exhausted and frazzled but I can get my body and my mind back into the hopyard now and I could not be happier about it. The distraction? Nothing could be more infuriating, frustrating, and at times even heartbreaking, was a battle with Liam’s school department for his needs and ultimately his right to a safe, public education no matter his disability.

It was, obviously, a worthwhile reason to not work on the hopyard business for a week. (Hell, I was useless all week at the day job too, going so far as to use a sick day with an upset stomach that I’m now not entirely convinced wasn’t just caused by stress.)  There are only two things that I can think of that pull me out of the hopyard like that. Liam’s health, and Liam’s education. I’m just like any parent that way.

This morning it was all resolved. After too many emails to count, emails and a phone meeting with the Governor’s director of constituent services, after emails and texts with my state representative, after emails and texts with a few of my elected school committee members, and after a meeting at city hall this morning with the school superintendent, the city director of pupil services and the director of special education, it is resolved.

Liam will start the second grade in the fall.

While the hopyard was busy filling out so have the summer gardens. I can’t tell you how proud I am of the work we’ve done this year. Watering duties and responsibilities split between Karin and I, we had incredible yields of spring radishes and peas a few months ago. Now, we are about a week away from being up to our eyeballs in eggplants, green beans, summer squash, jalepenos, cucumbers and of course a bunch of different types of tomatoes. For the first time ever, every one of them started from seed in our sunroom this February.

Honestly, when added to everything I have to do to get ready for the hop harvests, the harvesting, cooking, pickling or canning I have to do is daunting.

Daunting but incredibly exciting.


I feel connected to our little patch of dirt now. Knowing exactly when every inch will be in shadow or in sun as it makes its way across the sky. The daily, almost meditative ritual of watering, and weeding, and picking a few early beans or eggplants is the only thing that calmed me during a week of worry and stress. It was like magic.

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I didn’t get anything I had planned doing done this week. Some of you who are expecting packages from me, they are going out tomorrow. The need for more stories here and the eventual online store, it is coming. I promise. I just didn’t get to these things this week. Instead I fought for what my boy needed. It was more important than my plants. The work on the hopyard and the gardens though, are the outlet and place that help me get through it all.

Sharing 

Now that this post is done,and out of the way, we can get into what this blog was meant for — sharing our story. Along with hopyard news and announcements on new products or sales, we’ll be sharing anecdotes about the growing season, thoughts on beers and beer culture, recipes from pickles to pale ales, and of course photos. 

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The case could be made that the photographs of the Olson & Son Hopyard have to date been the most important part of this project. Without instagram, this idea would still be nothing more than a few plants behind my garage. The photographs and people’s reactions to them, have been the driving force in turning this into something more.

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So as a matter both of sharing with people who aren’t users of instagram, and as a matter of archiving them online somewhere other than a facebook owned service, I’ll be posting some of the better photographs that I post there again on this site.

I initially thought about using a macro to crosspost snapseed-9each post automatically but I post enough that if you followed this blog in a reader or by email I would surely annoy many of you.

Besides, if you already do follow me on Instagram or Twitter then you’ve already seen these photos. Do you really want to see them on instagram then again in your blog reader or email sometimes up to 5 times in a night? Nah, that would even annoy me! So instead, once a week, I’ll  pick the best handful of photos from the previous week and share them in one post.

The problem there, though is trying to come up with a narrative for what may be very different photos over the course of a week. I’m not going to write a weekly wrap-up. Not consistently anyway, I know me, and whatever time I spend forcing myself to come up snapseed-7with “content” is time I am not working towards my hop growing and brewing goals.  So what I am going to do is to use the weekly photo dump to also be a post for links, tiny little stories, Notes, and maybe even jokes!

Or something like that,

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At least twice a week I am stopped by someone while watering and asked what I could possibly be growing. People often guess that they’re beans, or long gourds, but only early in the season beforethe flowering stage. The hopyard stands out and people walking or driving by have questions. It’s kind of awesome. Cracks me up every time.

Sometimes they’re only asking to report back to someone else, “See, now we can tell your grandmother what they are since she asks every time we drive by” a mother said to her son two nights ago after I explained all about the hops and the hopyard. Without the hopyard I don’t think we’d know very many of our neighborhood residents, and now I can’t even water my garden without waving at least a dozen times.

And so it has been online as well. The bamboo trellis is weird. The photos a little much, heavy contrast, heavy saturation, and seriously, how many pictures of bines does one person need to take? But it works for us. It has helped us become a part of a hop growing community I never would have had access to without it.

In the past week, I have received messages or emails from multiple homebrewers interested in buying hops, a professional brewer of a 5bbls brewhouse brewery in Georgia about possibly using our hops, a hop farmer in Pennsylvania about better packaging options for my dried hops, and a hop farm in Indiana about a hopyard t-shirt swap between the two of us. Not to mention more pictures of people in their own new Olson & Son shirts. (Not a #humblebrag at all, that is some totally non-humble old fashioned snapseed-6bragging going on, and why not, who would have thought that such things could be said
from a teeny-tiny suburban back yard?)

But none of that would have happened had I not taken the time to spend a few minutes every single day with my camera out in the yard. There’s power in those pictures. The power of motivation, and of manifesting goals.

It’s all in that power of sharing stories.

Cheers.

A Thank You and a Statement on the future of The Olson & Son Hopyard

Over the past two days the photos have been coming in from people wearing their brand new Olson & Son Hopyard T-shirts. It makes me incredibly happy and proud to see. I’ll be sharing some of the photos in another post soon, but I, of course, need to begin this one by thanking each and every one of you who have supported us in so many different ways. Yes – thank you to every one of you who has bought a shirt online or a beer glass at our Father’s Day event, but also thank you to all of you who have shared our story, and even everyone who follows, comments, and likes us on Instagram and Twitter. Thank You. Your support of us is noticed and appreciated more than you know.

Thank You.

Let me also start by saying that I am very happy with how well the website Booster.com worked for these first two t-shirt sales. Both “campaigns” were incredibly succesful and easy to set-up. They print and ship well before promised and the shirts themselves are very well made and stand up to multiple washings and significant hours of yardwork. Payment was made when promised. On my end, if you have a group that needs to raise money, I recommend using them. (By way of disclosure: This is not an ad. I have not been paid or compensated in any way to say that.) It will however, be the last Olson & Son Hopyard t-shirt sale executed in this way.

It would be ridiculous to say that there would be an Olson & Son Hopyard without my special needs parenting blog, PressureSupport.com. Sharing my son Liam’s story, and our story as a family with a child who has special health care needs, has opened doors and provided opportunities I didn’t think possible – but it has also showed me that there is value to sharing our stories. As we’ve seen on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, there is increasing value to knowing the stories of the people who make your goods, or grow your food, or create the clothing, art, and crafts around your house. Without years of sharing our own lives online, I wouldn’t have thought that people would connect and engage with the hundreds of photos I post of leaves, vines, and hops.

In essence, the Olson & Son Hopyard (as well as our two t-shirt sales) was born of PressureSupport.com and is therefore ultimately directly connected to my ideas, writings, and advocacy for the special needs community. This essentially implies that all sales from Olson & Son Hopyard are directly tied to my son’s special needs. The idea of using my son’s special needs in any way that could be construed as exploitive of him is something I have always been sensitive about.

I chose Booster.com for these sales a bit hastily – it’s a site used to hosts sales for “campaigns” to raise funds for a “cause”. As such, and in accordance with the information I have presented on both pages for each t-shirt sale, all funds raised by those sales were either put into one of two funds. Firstly, proceeds went to the Liam the Lion Fund – a fund started to purchase Liam’s wheelchair accessible van, and for the van’s maintenance and other medical equipment and charges that come along with Liam’s special needs. A very small percentage of the t-shirt sale revenue that was leftover was used on hop ropes and fertilizer to maintain the hopyard. I was up front about that from the start. So, I also want to be up front about the fact that all of that is about to change.

The Liam the Lion Fund will always be around, as will (I hope) PressureSupport.com. As Liam grows, so do his equipment needs, and the home renovations needed to accomodate them. When that stops, the Liam the Lion Fund will find other non-profits and charitable organizations to help. It, hopefully, will be a worthwhile “cause” that I can work on as part of my advocacy.

But at the end of the day, my son and our family are not a “cause” or a charity.

We are a family on the verge of starting our own small business.

The Olson & Son Hopyard is not the Liam the Lion Fund.

The Olson & Son Hopyard is not PressureSupport.com.

The Olson & Son Hopyard is a for-profit business.

snapseed-12What started as a hobby to support another hobby, growing hops to use in home brewing, has evolved into an outright passion. And as that passion grows, the very real possibility that this can become a legitimate small business opportunity is presenting itself. That is why I want to be as clear as possible on the distinction between the Liam the Lion fund/pressuresupport and the now “for-profit” business of Olson & Son Hopyard. From this point forward, any revenue earned through Olson & Son Hopyard will be used primarily to grow that business, and hopefully someday, as an income source for our family.

It is important to me that I am clear with my intent with all of you. The hopyard will continue to support Liam’s medical expenses in much the same way that my weekly paycheck does. Hopefully, it will also support Liam with things like toys, and vacations (vacations ha! this is where all the hop farmers laugh), and – ultimately (in 14 years when he ages out of the school system) – a place where Liam can become an employee, since most of the jobs programs for adults with disabilities in my state are scary.

Along with all of that, it will someday support Liam’s mother and I with things like beer, and dinners, and keeping the lights on. But most importantly, the Olson & Son Hopyard will support itself, so that it will grow. Hopefully growing into a local business that can help not only my family, but my local community, those looking for jobs in my state, and the people who make beer in New England and the rest of the country.

While we have yet to sell an actual hop to a brewer, it is certainly part of the plan for snapseed-13our near future. We look forward to adding additional space and plants, and providing southern New England with quality, locally-grown hops for area breweries and homebrewers. I’m also working to pursue hops and brewing as a full-time career . In the meantime, we will be opening our online store in the coming months, where you’ll find items including our t-shirts, our logo beer glasses, and our handmade holiday hop vine wreaths and ornaments.

Last week, a writer from one of our leading regional magazines spent a few hours with me in the hop yard for an upcoming feature. As soon as she arrived, I asked where she had heard about us. I was curious about the context of their expectations. While it would have been exciting if they found us through my advocacy of children with special healthcare needs, I was over the moon to learn that it was because of a mention from an influential member of the local RI food and beverage industry. They are from section of the magazine focused on food and beverage.

Their introduction to us and interest in the project wasn’t all about Liam. This was about hops, and the crazy guy who took about 100 square feet of ground behind his garage and, along with his son, turned it into something green.

All of this isn’t to say that you won’t see Liam in Olson & Son Hopyard posts. Of course you will. He is the “& Son” in Olson & Son after all. It’s just that Liam isn’t “the special needs kid” when he’s in the Olson & Son Hopyard.

He’s  the owner’s kid.

He just happens to be special.

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Thank you to everyone who read down this far. If you have any questions about this transition and separation please feel free to email us at olsonandsonhopyard {at} gmail {dot} com.