HOPS ENVY: From internship to budding business owner

Chad Kleidosty planting hops at the Main Station Field Lab
Chad Kleidosty planting hops at the UNR's Main Station Field Lab

Although California grown, Chad Kleidosty cannot wait to join the rest of the “Nevada Grown” certified producers in Carson Valley. Kleidosty and his wife, Elysa, a Carson City native, recently started their own hops farm, HOPS ENVY, which is located on the King Estate in Gardnerville, Nevada.

Kleidosty, an agricultural science major minoring in business administration, plans to graduate December, 2015. Originally a business major, Kleidosty first developed a passion for the science behind making beer. That then lead to an interest in horticultural practices that produce top quality ingredients, which ultimately steered him to UNR’s ag science program.

“Having been a craft beer enthusiast for almost as long as I could legally drink, it dawned on me that I really do appreciate what goes into making a quality beer,” declares Kleidosty.

In 2013, the High Desert Hops Project put out a call for a project coordinator internship that was being developed on CABNR’s Main Station Field Lab in east Reno. The project is a collaborative farming initiative between Reno’s Urban Roots and CABNR, designed to create awareness and educate local farmers about hops and other alternative crops. Kleidosty eagerly accepted the offer.

Having completed two separate internships, one through Urban Roots Farm Corps program and a second through CABNR’s internship program, Kleidosty is thrilled that his interests are taking root, literally.

“My decision to pursue a career as a hops farmer was definitely inspired by my involvement with the High Desert Hops Project,” said Kleidosty.

“I don't think I could have started HOPS ENVY without being the project manager,” Kleidosty said. “It was really what helped me understand not only the textbook side of growing hops, but also what is entailed in getting a business started. It was an amazing opportunity for me to get that position and the hands-on experience.”

Kleidosty and his wife realized they would be able to turn their dream into a reality by building strong business connections in the community and dedicating themselves through hard work.

Having met King Estate owner, Don King of Gardnerville, NV, the couple now leases land on the estate. “Everything just started falling into place,” said Kleidosty.

Kleidosty helped analyze the success of 10 different hops varieties while working with the High Desert Hops Project. After speaking to different local brewers about which hops they would like, Kleidosty selected four varieties (Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, and Willamette) that he believed would be the most successful for their business.

In addition to growing hops for local breweries, the couple plans to venture into agro-tourism as well. Offering everything from farm tours, merchandise, and seasonal row sponsorships.

“We hope to provide the entire Northern Nevada region with local, Hops Envy hops,” Kleidosty said. “We want to make sure that our clients are getting what they want out of the product, at a price that would not drive them to go elsewhere.”

The couple also believes that community exposure to and participation in small farming initiatives is vital to cultivating a local environment that supports sustainable agriculture.

“I look forward to sharing this experience with our local community and am grateful for the opportunity that has led to this agricultural journey,” states Kleidosty. “I love working with hops and feel as though I have finally found my dream career, a job that for once I’m passionate about.”

Story by Kate Dunlap