What Should a Small Farmer Know When Starting with Hops?

Today on the Thriving Farmer Podcast, we’re joined by Eric Sannerud, Hop Evangelist and Farm Advocate from Minnesota. Eric was co-founder and CEO of Mighty Axe Hops, Minnesota’s largest hop farm. Eric started Mighty Axe Hops in 2013 and has since grown the farm from .25 acre to 80 acres of production. Mighty Axe was the industry leader in Minnesota hops working with commercial brewers, USDA programs, local government and economic development, and University researchers to develop hops as a viable local crop. Mighty Axe closed in 2020 due to tremendous storm damage. Eric is currently a hop consultant, a farm advocate, and a speaker. 

Tune in to our show today to listen to the fascinating details surrounding Eric’s hop journey!

In this episode, you’ll hear…

  • What led Eric to becoming a hop expert 2:39
  • What makes the hop plant special 4:05
  • What the average hop plant can produce for you 11:58
  • Eric’s sales outlets while growing hops 17:12
  • What a small farmer should do when starting with hops 19:06
  • The weather event that set Eric substantially back 22:15
  • The size of Eric’s team on the farm 34:58
  • Eric’s role at GrownBy 43:53

About the Guest:

Eric R. Sannerud is a hop evangelist. Eric first fell in love with hops as co-founder and farmer-CEO of Mighty Axe Hops, a fully integrated hop farm and marketing company which grew and sold 80 acres of hops in Minnesota. He then went on to be the Hop Brand Manager for Brewers Supply Group. He is now a freelance hop consultant for brewers, farmers, and marketers across the United States. 


Website: https://www.ericrsannerud.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eric.sannerud/

The Thriving Farmer Podcast Team would like to thank our amazing sponsors!

GrownBy is the farmer-owned online marketplace. In the last three years, their 200 farmers have sold over $2M of products to shoppers on the GrownBy app.

GrownBy works for all scales and types of farm sales. Spring Plant Sale? Yup. Annual Freezer Meat Emptying? Check. Multi-season, multi-farm 300 member CSA operation? Absolutely. GrownBy supports it all.

As a cooperative, farmer success is their #1 priority. They are the first farmer-owned cooperative ecommerce platform in the world. With auto-payments, built-in customer notifications, CSA subscriptions, and customers helping to pay site fees, GrownBy is a tailored fit for your farm’s online sales. Upcoming, GrownBy will be the first online platform accepting SNAP/EBT with authorized farms.

Startup is free, and pricing is transparent and affordable. The cooperative collects 2% of each transaction, but customers often contribute to this fee and bring down farmer costs significantly.

Listeners to the Thriving Farmers Podcast get 50% off their first three months on GrownBy. Just email Grow@farmgenerations.coop to get this offer. You can learn more at GrownBy.com, or download the app on the Google Play or Apple App stores. 


Steward is transforming agriculture by equipping regenerative farms and food systems with the capital they need to grow. As a mission-driven financial partner, Steward works closely with agricultural businesses to scale their operations, improve the health of their lands and waters, and bolster local-to-regional food systems.

To date, Steward has provided over $15M in business loans to fund 75 unique projects, backed by more than 1,500 participating lenders. Steward is proud to be a Certified B Corp.

Seek financing or support a loan campaign at gosteward.com