First ever MSU Extension Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference this weekend

Michiganders love beer! Even more, they love local beer, grown and produced right here in Michigan. This demand has spurred the need for more Michigan-grown ingredients, keeping our educators busy. This year, Michigan State University Extension, with support from Michigan State University AgBioResearch, the  Michigan Brewers Guild and the Institute for Sustainable Living, Art & Natural Design (ISLAND) are hosting the Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference April 10-11 to help support growers both new and veteran. The conference will take place at the Eberhard Center on the Grand Valley State University Campus in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The conference planning committee includes Betsy Braid of MSU Agriculture and Natural Resources Event Services; Extension educators Ashley McFarland, Erin Lizotte and Rob Sirrine; and Scott Graham of the Michigan Brewers Guild.

Rob and Erin had already begun planning a hops conference when Ashley suggested adding barley to the lineup. Within the industry, they saw a lot of opportunities for collaboration and networking, and the Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference was born.

Ashley is very excited about this opportunity to build connections and support hop and barley production in Michigan.

“There’s a pride in being able to produce that Pure Michigan product, and right now it is almost impossible to source all of our grain from in state. To say that all of their ingredients come from Michigan ‒ that’s huge, because it connects an industry like beer back to agriculture,” she said.

To help attendees get the most out of the conference, they have developed three tracks which include beginning hop management, advanced hop management, and malting barley production and malthouse opportunities.

The conference is so successful that 340 people are attending with more on a waiting list in case of openings. This is a huge collaboration not only across institutes, but also between Michigan State University and professionals across the region. They deserve kudos for the hard work they’ve put into the project, and we’ll all be looking forward to hearing how it goes.

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