Powers Farm and Brewery of Midland inspires locavore lifestyle with CSAs for vegetables, flowers, and beer
Q&A with Kevin and Melody Powers
Kevin and Melody Powers have always been very interested in quality and sustainable foods and the locavore principles, even back in college. They started attending sustainable agriculture conferences, and even while learning about types of farming they didn’t intend to pursue, they were inspired and energized by those who, as they explained, could “bootstrap their way into an agriculture operation.” They continued, “These experts made it all seem very approachable and fun, even though we knew at the time from our limited but growing experience that it’s all primarily a ton of work.” Fast forward to 2019: Kevin and Melody have made their sustainable agricultural dreams come true with Powers Farm and Brewery, an integrated sustainable farm, hopyard, and brewery in southern Fauquier County where they offer vegetable, flower, and beer CSAs as well as welcome guests to their brewery. Lifestyle sat down with Kevin and Melody, and they gave us a glimpse into their enterprise.
Tell us about the beginning of your CSAs and brewing operation.
The plans for the CSA and Brewery have been in progress since we moved to Fauquier county in 2012. Our original property was in New Baltimore, that’s when we acquired Aggie, our solo and misfit sheep you’ll recognize from our logo. Then we realized that the farm and brewery combo we were envisioning would do better at a more rural location, so we moved everything to Meetze Road in 2016, and we both started working full time on the farm. Kevin started to focus on building and then operating the brewing operation.
How does your CSA work?
Our CSA runs during the summer months with a large variety of fresh, sustainably grown vegetables, fruits, and herbs harvested fresh each week. Customers pick up an allotted amount of fresh produce every week. The primary benefit is that what you’re eating is the freshest and most flavorful produce available, which is at its height of nutritional value. There are no chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides used in raising our produce, so it’s healthier. Customers also often include either one or both of our two other programs: the Cut Flower CSA, which includes a bouquet of fresh picked flowers from our farm each week, and our Field Beer CSA, which includes a discounted weekly growler fill.
When did the brewing operation become a part of your enterprise? How did you start?
Our brewing experience is entirely based on homebrewing, which we had done for about ten years before opening, and an enormous amount of reading, which Kevin really enjoys and had plenty of time for during VRE train rides to and from the city when he was still commuting.
Does the locavore principle also apply to your brewing operation?
Absolutely. Our hops are grown on our property; we grow some traditional American varieties, strung on our trellis system built from on-property cedar posts. Our brewery focuses on brewing a variety of beer styles that feature ingredients from our fields. It’s set up as an extension of our farm, with small batches made right next to our field. We plan each of our recipes to be centered on a farm ingredient — cones from our hop yard, herbs, fruit, and even vegetables from the same field that powers our Produce CSA — and even some fun projects with other local growers, especially around barley and malt.
Tell us about your beer. How many varieties are available?
We brew a constantly rotating set of beers in small batches, with recipes being developed on a weekly basis depending on what herbs, fruits, and produce are ready in the field. Everything is centered around seasonality, just like our produce and flower CSAs. But for some examples, we have our “Elderflower Kolsch” coming up in July, which is a cold-fermented and unfiltered ale with grapefruit and orange flavors from the fresh-picked elderflowers which were added during the brewing process. Another example of a brew coming up is our “Achilles” Yarrow Porter which is brewed with field picked yarrow flowers. Long ago, yarrow flowers were added to beer instead of hops. The flowers give it a slightly licorice flavor which balances nicely with the roasty smoothness of the oat porter. Other seasonal brews that you may see in the tap room this summer include our Lavender Grissette, Blackberry Saison and a new Strawberry Wild Ale. We have a new beer almost every week as the growing seasons evolve.
Is Powers beer currently sold anywhere other than on the Farm?
The vast majority of beer is sold in our taproom, but we do work with a handful of local restaurants who don’t mind dealing with our kind of extreme seasonality of beer offerings. Our volume is pretty limited, just given the brewing system size we chose to go with that fits best with our land and farming operation, but the handful of great people we work with regularly includes Molly’s Pub in Warrenton, Field & Main in Marshall, and Harry’s Pub, which is part of the Airlie Conference Center.
Do you partner with any local food businesses?
As much as we possibly can! On the CSA level we partner with other Fauquier farms to make things more convenient for our customers and help offer a wider range of products for their weekly visit with us. Last year we offered a CSA add-on from Whiffletree Farm, run by our friends Jesse and Liz Straight, to offer a meat share from his sustainably run farm that works very similarly to our Produce CSA. We also offered an Egg Share from our next door neighbors, Misty Meadows Farm.
In the brewery we work with other local companies on two levels — as part of beer production as well as on the food truck side. When we design our beers, we’re primarily working with fruits and vegetables from our farm but sometimes we find out about great ag products we don’t have ourselves that we can get from nearby farms. A good example of this is the hibiscus we get from Sharkawi Farm; Sabry’s meticulous growing practices can be seen in the high quality of his herbs. Similarly, we get blackberries from our neighbors Allen and Jennifer Hynes at Misty Meadows Farms for our popular blackberry saison and Bounty peaches from Roy and Janet in Sperryville for a summer grisette we brewed.
We have food trucks out to the brewery on weekends, and they are all local. Some are fellow farmers that also maintain a food truck, like Happy Family Ranch and The Sauer Kraut — both raise most or all of the meat they prepare as part of their dishes. Some of our other vendors aren’t farmers themselves but do a lot of local sourcing, like Talk of the Mountain Seafood from Warrenton.
So community is important to you?
Absolutely. We’re big believers in supporting other local businesses, and the benefits multiply exponentially. We think it’s great to be able to participate in something that does so much good, and even in a small way helps create and support the kind of community we want to live and work in.
Powers Farm and Brewery
9269 Redemption Way, Midland