Under the winters frozen blanket of ice and snow, the Islands soil and those who farm it look forward to the warm months that bring new growth. One particular farmer who is probably the most eager is Josh Mayich. Josh and family have moved to PEI from New Brunswick where he operated a successful hop farm located on Darlings Island in the Kennebecasis River valley. The Mayich family have made the move to PEI to open a 40 acre hop farm to be located in Mount Albion.
Late in 2019, Josh officially launched the Island Hop Company, the first full scale commercial hop growing operation to be established on Prince Edward Island. Historically, hops have been grown in small lots throughout the Island, Acadian settlers used the hops to assist in the baking of bread. Early Island brewers also grew small quantities of hops, but with Prohibition they became unnecessary and fields were dedicated to other crops. Currently a few people grow hops on a small scale, but none have tackled a full scale operation as it is a capital -ntensive undertaking.
Fortunately, Josh has the foresight to see through what it takes to develop and maintain a hop yard. Having served in the military, he trained for years becoming a surgeon, a practice he will continue here on PEI. For Josh, hop growing is truly a family endeavour which is in his blood. His grandfather’s family farmed hops in Eastern Europe but with the turmoil of the last century in that region they had to abandon the farm. Josh’s grandfather inspired him to rediscover this family heritage.
With seven years of growing trials under his belt at Darlings Island, Josh has developed a methodical science based approach on selecting hop varieties that grow well in the region and show characteristics similar to the original parent plants. These field trials were key in selecting varieties to grow at The Island Hop Company which will produce hops with origins from far flung traditional hop growing regions such as Germany, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and New Zealand.
Having a keen appreciation for beer shown by his earning the designation of Certified Cicerone, Josh grew hops in Darlings Island that were wildly popular with the brewers in New Brunswick—often showcased as a key ingredient. The hops from the Island Hop Company’s first harvest in the early fall of 2020 will surely be sought after by all Island brewers, as this will mark the first time in nearly a century they can brew a beer made entirely of Island grow products.