Sunday, June 7, 2009


Crecencio Estrada, at Champoux Farms.

Crecencio Estrada sharpens his machete while harvesting hops at Champoux Farms outside of Toppinish, Wash. The hop harvest begins in August and closes in early October. Washington is the largest supplier of hops in the United States, with 75 percent of our nation's hop acreage located in the Yakima Valley. Washington farmers increased their hop acreage by 25 percent in 2008 to meet a shortage from the previous year.

It's been months since my afternoon with Estrada and the fields, but I revisited the images and decided to post a few. It's fascinating to learn where things come from and whose hands have touched them before the finished product is distributed to the masses.

During the harvest, workers (mostly Mexican) use machetes to cut off the base of the hop vine. By unsecuring the plant, a tractor easily plucks the vines from a web of wires, held together by a forest of poles.

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All images copyright Erika Schultz or The Seattle Times