I graduated from the integrated resource management program at Colorado State University four years ago. The integrated resource management program just stuck out as something that I was really excited about because it integrated all the practical uses of a land mass and incorporated the business side of agriculture, the sustainability side of agriculture, and I saw an opportunity to not only engage with my passion for craft agriculture but also craft beer. The IRM program had an internship component, so I wrote to craft breweries all across Colorado. The most interesting reply I got back was from the owner of Oskar Blues Brewery.
We eventually connected and I met him here at the farm and that’s when he relayed to me, hey, what I want to do is vertically integrate my brewery, this farm, and restaurants. By vertically integrating your company, you own or control all the steps to the end process. So, we have a brewery that we could leverage, and utilize some of the outflows from that brewery to create productive inflows for the restaurant. It made perfect sense for me to engage this Hope and Heifers opportunity in my final project and make that my final project for the IRM program. The strategic plan that I put together literally used every aspect of the IRM program. We had a land opportunity, a land mass, that hadn’t been agriculturally used in a long time.
So we were able to look at the soil resources here, doing a soil survey; looking at the pasture resources and looking at, okay, what is the actual protein content of the grass. Also, the age business side, I started to look at an enterprise budget and put a budget together. Dale was interested in putting a hop field in, so what are the end runs as far as yields and sales of hops in order to recap that expense. I just was able to put that in a concise folder and make it specific to this opportunity. Eventually, Dale accepted the plan that I had presented him, and then it came to the point in time to talk to Dale about really migrating completely with Oskar Blues. Now Hope and Heifers have grown. We’ve partnered with local farmers to raise our grass-fed and mash finished all natural beef.
Berkshire pork program
We have a Berkshire pork program; we raise Berkshire pigs here for our restaurants. We also have two acres of high trellis hops we’re allowed to not only learn about the hop growing process, which helps us on our brewery side, but it gives us an opportunity to raise local hops and then makes some specialty, one-off batches of beer. To look at the plan now, where we started, and we’ve followed it pretty religiously throughout these last four years. It’s amazing; we have five Restaurants Company has grown to; our Chub Burger is our fast casual hamburger restaurant that really is a celebration of the farm. We opened a new Chub Burger in Coors Field.
We have about twenty-five accounts outside of our restaurants that are current customers with our primal cuts. There are some really nice, you know, higher-end restaurants that are engaging with our product. I challenge anyone that takes the program or goes through the program because the door is really wide open. You would never have thought that here, starting the IRM program, you know four years later I’d be part of Oskar Blues Brewery and running the Hops and Heifers Farm. It’s been a fun project and I couldn’t have put the whole program and the sustainability program together if it wasn’t for what I had learned at CSU.