As young twenty-somethings, we always knew we wanted to do something with the family farm. Although our education and eventual careers took us in other directions, our initial inclination was never very far away. In 2010, we bought half of the farm and decided to start growing hops. It was from here that our dream to one day own an estate brewery started to evolve.
Since then, we’ve gleaned some knowledge, accomplished some goals, and constructed a sound idea of what we wanted our business to look like. We’ve built a kick-ass brewery in one of two incredible turn-of-the-century barns. In the other, we’ve created a beautiful space, with an adjacent outdoor patio, for guests to lounge, imbibe, and nibble all day long.
We use heritage grains, interesting yeasts, local hops and Norfolk’s water, to make our fermented libations. To keep guests on their toes, we also like to experiment with seasonal ingredients from time-to-time. Our quality craft beer is honest, easy drinking, and fun; but the best part is that it can only be consumed in Norfolk County. For us, the Charlotteville Brewing Company, or CBC as we like to call it, is truly a unique and special place and we hope it will be for you too.
At the core of our food philosophy is an international movement called Slow Food. The movement was born in Italy during the 1980s and since then has influenced hundreds of thousands of people around the world to become part of a larger food community.
Slow Food encourages us to be both co-producers (“a conscious consumer who goes beyond the passive role of consuming and takes an interest in those who produce our food, how they produce it and the problems they face in doing so”) and an eco-gastronomes (those who recognize the “strong connection between planet and plate, and the fact that our food choices have a major impact on the health of the environment and society”). This combination allows individuals to realize the pivotal roles that food and nature play in our day-to-day lives.
We believe the consumption of local, seasonal products is not only pleasurable, but it’s also educational and necessary to make the production of our food and drink efficient, in harmony with and to the benefit of the natural cycles around us. This mindset motivates us throughout the year to preserve, ferment, dehydrate, freeze, smoke, cure and pickle a wide variety of seasonal items that we grow ourselves, forage for, or purchase from local farms in the surrounding area.
Like our beer and food, there is a rational behind what we do on the farm. That rational is deeply imbedded in something called agroecology. Although the term might sound familiar (agro – agriculture and ecology – ecological/environmental), many still find it difficult to wrap his/her head around the concept. Agroecology can best be summarized as an approach where nutrients and energy are recycled on the farm in closed loops, rather than relying on external inputs.
It can also be approached as a way of understanding how ecological, social, and economic factors (in that order) all interact with one another. When applied correctly, it is a system that is less resource oriented, more socially inviting, and environmentally focused. Agroecology seeks to create a farming system that is diverse, productive, resilient, and efficient.
Applying an agroecological approach to our farm has allowed us to explore more effective ways of applying traditional knowledge and techniques to our crops and land (i.e. soil). Through this environmental stewardship we believe we’re creating a rich habitat and dynamic ecosystem that from the soil, to the seed, to the plate, is enabling us to move towards a better, more responsible, agricultural model.