Our production intern Tessy Copper attended Company Drinks’ annual hopping trip last month and reports on the stories overheard in the hop fields:
Friday 11 September was no ordinary day in the office as I was whisked away on a coach full of Barking and Dagenham locals for a day of hop picking fun in the sun. The trip was part of the Company Drinks project by international artist group MyVillages, which aims to establish a self-sustaining community drinks enterprise in the east London Borough.
After just an hour’s drive, the landscape changed dramatically from a frenetic concrete scene to serene, picturesque countryside. Upon arriving at Little Scotney Farm we were greeted by the farm owner himself, who spoke a bit about the farming process and the green variety of hops that were currently in season.
Throughout the course of the day hops steadily arrived in their tractor-loads ready for eager picking hands. Somewhat therapeutic, the action of picking hops combined with their bittersweet scent seemed to perfectly compliment listening to these East London locals share stories of their old hop picking days. Most would travel to farms in Kent every year for a working holiday during the hop picking season. It served as a fun break from east London with the bonus of having the opportunity to earn some extra cash.
As the day unfolded we found ourselves exploring the farmland and the production shed, which provided an insight to the overall production process and journey of each hop from field to oast house, where they are dried before packing.
Along with picking hops to our heart’s content and enjoying a reminiscent day in the countryside, everyone also had the chance to sample some of Company’s homemade beverages.
Overall the ethos of Company Drinks is focussed on reviving these traditions, bringing people back together through organised community foraging and picking events. Company have been holding many trips this year from fruit harvesting and farm visits to cola and lemonade making workshops.
The hops picked at Little Scotney Farm were taken straight to Kernel Brewery in Bermondsey to be transformed into green hop ale, which will be on sale at Frieze Art Fair this month from 13th – 17th October. The hops will also be made into a delicious green hop tonic by east London soft drinks company Square Root, which will be bottled and sold at some of Company’s upcoming events so keep checking back on their website for further information and updates.
Production Intern, Create London