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Emmett Farm enters 21st century by adding hops crop

Posted: December 29, 2017

by John Benson


The Emmett Farm has been a fixture in Richfield for 150 years. But it also appears to have a bright future, because fourth-generation farmer Ashley Linnert plans to take the farm in a new direction, catering to the craft brewery phenomenon. 


“Having lost my dad unexpectedly last year and then my grandpa so suddenly, we were sitting here looking out at the field thinking what are we going to do,” said Tom Emmett’s daughter Ashley, 31, who lives on the farm with her husband, Bill, and two children. 


“We wanted to focus on the hops and also plants and herbs that are complementary to the brewing process,” she said. “Then not only sell to breweries in the area, but also invite people here. We’re going to renovate the old ranch, and invite people to come over and see the process of the hops field and the brewing process.”


For the 2005 Revere High School graduate, the family farm has always been the center of her universe. Even when Ashley was studying psychology at Kent State University, she’d return to Richfield to help with the chores and the successful equipment business.


After losing her father and grandfather, former Richfield Township Trustee Daniel O. Emmett, this past summer, Ashley decided to leave her day job in school psychology with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to focus on her family and the farm. 


Currently the 65-acre farm is a venue for goats, egg-laying chickens and hay fields. Transitioning to growing hops should over time garner interest from regional breweries; however, Ashley said the plan is to start by taking baby steps. 


“We want to start small because it’s an initial investment,” she said. “We want to make it manageable now and then expand as years go by. This is a 15-year dream. It won’t happen overnight.


“We just want to do this for ourselves. We’ll learn from the process what local breweries want. And we’ll process it ourselves, brew our own beer here and make it available to sell to the community, almost like a winery.”


Ashley’s cousin, Nick Ricci, who has helped out on the farm for the past five years, also will be part of the operation.


“He has a wealth of passed-down knowledge about the Emmett Farm from working closely with the Emmett family,” Bill said. “We couldn’t do any of this without him.”


The Emmett Farm dedicates a half-acre to growing roughly 120 separate hop plants. Within a couple of years, the plan is for the mature hop yard to yield almost 750 pounds annually. The Linnerts’ dream includes putting Ohio on the hops-growing map. 


“The more people growing hops in Ohio, the more the nation will see Ohio as having its own unique flavor,” Ashley said. “Just as you would get grapes from wineries from different regions in the country, you can kind of do the same thing with hops that Ohio would have their own style.”


Part of the process Ashley hopes to promote is called wet hops, which basically means within 24 hours of being harvested, the crops are used to make beer. That’s different from dried, pelletized, imported hops shipped in from out of state. The wet hops process can completely change the taste profile of beers. 


“August and September is the time to harvest so you’ll get the freshest hops,” Ashley said. “We’d like to eventually investigate installing a greenhouse and putting a row or two in there. You can harvest three times a year with a greenhouse. That would be something new for Ohio.”

The hops part of the business is called Hoppin’ Flower Farm, but Ashley hinted a change in name to Oak Hill Hops could be in the works. Even though it’s still early in the game, Ashley acknowledged returning to the farm and carrying on the Emmett legacy just feels right. 


“It really touches my heart,” Ashley said. “I never felt more like I was doing the right thing in my entire life. You’re always looking for your calling, and I get really warm and fuzzy feelings being back here and making use of the land. It’s really special for me.”


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