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Wild About Hops

Trevor Courtney has swapped his drumsticks for gumboots. The former career musician grows hops, heritage apples, saffron and has two flocks of wiltshire sheep on a lifestyle block in North Canterbury.

The sheep are low-maintenance.

"In the spring they start to shed their fleece, so there's no shearing,...you can leave their tails on, we only meet up with them a couple of times a year," he says.

Trevor collects the wool before it blows away and uses it for tree and hop planting.

"I put it in the bottom of the hole. One, it'll collect moisture and secondly, it'll provide minerals as it rots down."
Trevor has always liked his beer so, when

he bought the eight hectare West Eyreton property with his wife Lyndsay, he decided to establish a hop garden. However restrictions meant he couldn't access some popular commercial varieties.

"The choice we had was to find them in the wild...or there was no alternative actually!"

So for a couple of years Trevor and Lyndsay went on hop-finding missions around the South Island.

"We found a hop growing up a lamppost in Motueka called Coalgate, a Fuggle hop growing outside a pub in South Canterbury and a Kortegast hop on the side of the Hokitika River," he says with a grin.

Now Trevor propagates more than a dozen non-commercial varieties and sells them as one-year-old plants to home brewers and small breweries. This year he's expecting to sell 2000 plants.

Prior to becoming a hop grower Trevor had a successful international music career spanning 40 years.

He was in Christchurch R&B outfit 'The Chants' which in the 1960's was considered to be one of the best garage rhythm and blues bands in New Zealand.

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