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Hop to it

By Suzanne Stewart, The Pocahontas Times

EDRAY, W.Va. — The sprawling farm in Edray, above the fish hatchery, has had a long life serving as a home and farmland for more than a century. It was once a working sheep farm owned by Ivan and Mary Frances Barlow. In 2012, it became a blueberry farm owned by Dan Lewis.

Now, it’s a hops farm, owned by Jim Campbell.

Campbell bought the farm three years ago when he moved from Ansted to Pocahontas County. Originally from southern California, Campbell made a living in the special event industry, building stages and putting on shows across the country.

His former wife’s family is from West Virginia and while the two were on a vacation with her parents, they came across a dilapidated 800 square foot home in Ansted. The For Sale sign in the front yard was quickly uprooted and the two found themselves remodeling the house.

Campbell’s love of real estate and remodeling old houses brought him to Pocahontas County and his current home in Edray near Onoto.

Now that he’s retired from the special event industry, he is focusing on his hobbies.

“One of my hobbyies is fixing up old houses and the other is growing hops,” he said.

He started growing hops eight or nine years ago and has expanded from one row of plants at his place in Ansted, to a large scale operation at Edray.

“Down there, I had a row of about a hundred plants, and I sold them to Free Folk Brewery,” he said. “They made a fresh hop brew out of mine. It takes about two to three years to really get any kind of yield once you put them in the ground, so this year is really my third year up here.”

In 2023, the crop yielded 20 pounds of hops and he sold them to Old Spruce Brewery at Silver Creek, which used them in a small batch brew. Campbell said Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company in Lewisburg has also shown interest in his hops.

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