Teaming up with The Nature Conservancy for its OktoberForest initiative, Richmond breweries like Hardywood and Lickinghole Creek promote awareness about the connection between healthy forests and brewing beer.
Starting last week, breweries across the country and around the globe began participating in The Nature Conservancy’s OktoberForest campaign, including several local brewers in Richmond. The campaign is intended to help promote awareness about the connection between healthy forests, clean water, and better beer.
OktoberForest was created four years ago by The Nature Conservancy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that operates worldwide. The event now hosts around 40 breweries in Virginia, alongside hundreds more nationwide and globally. The brewers that participate in the campaign inform local patrons about The Nature Conservancy’s role in their brewmaking through informational coasters, table tents, poster, glasses, and shirts. This year is the first year that OktoberForest is going global, due to its popularity in the United States.
“It’s a fun idea,” said Kelley Galownia, Media Relations Manager for The Nature Conservancy’s Virginia chapter. “We’re not a super in-your-face organization, and OktoberForest seems like a fun thing to do. Beer is 95 percent water, which is a good connection to make for people — good water quality makes better beer.”
One of the local participants is Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, which has its main location in Goochland, Virginia. With an educational background in wildlife biology, a personal passion for environmentalism, and a family history of supporting The Nature Conservancy, it made perfect sense for Lisa Pumphrey, founder and CEO of Lickinghole Creek, to have her brewery participate in the campaign.
“The Nature Conservancy’s mission is very complementary to what Lickinghole Creek represents and stands for,” Pumphrey said. “One of our mottos is ‘Healthy Soil Equals Healthy Civilization.’”
Lickinghole Creek prides itself on both its environmental and its agricultural sustainability projects. The Goochland property itself is the result of a 220-acre soil reclamation and remediation project started by Pumphrey, which has now grown to 305 acres of land. Of that property, 83 acres is forest, wetland, and wildlife habitat. They also help educate the local public in more environmentally and economically sustainable ways of agriculture, such as hemp and alcohol production.
For the OktoberForest campaign, Lickinghole Creek is donating 10 percent of its tasting room proceeds to The Nature Conservancy in October, on days they aren’t already committed to donating to other nonprofits.
“One thing about the ecosystem that everyone forgets is that people are a part of it,” Pumphrey said. “If you can create ways for people to make money and provide for their family, that is the best way to create change.”
The Nature Conservancy takes a similar approach to the role of economics in environmentalism. While their main mission is to protect as much land as possible through its purchase and preservation, they also want to make sure that the land is put to sustainable use.
“We are finding areas we can invest in that will have as much benefit as possible for everybody,” Galownia said. “Our opinion is that you can’t go into an area and block off land. You need to do something where everyone benefits.”
For example, The Nature Conservancy recently purchased 253,000 acres in the central Appalachian region of Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky called the Cumberland Forest Project. While this land was purchased mainly to protect the habitat of migratory birds and preserve its large swaths of forests, the human residents of that region were also in mind. With this land acquisition, the goal is to help incorporate ecotourism options and also provide clean drinking water.
Closer to Richmond, The Nature Conservancy’s Piney Grove Preserve in Sussex County conserves Virginia’s longleaf pine forests and one of the last breeding populations of red-cockaded woodpecker. To help draw attention to the region, and to make it economically viable, two Virginia breweries that are OktoberForest participants will be making special brews using pine needles from the preserve.
One of the breweries, Black Narrows Brewing, is located in Chincoteague, and will be making their beer for this year’s OktoberForest. The other is Hardywood Park Craft Brewery here in Richmond, who will be making theirs in the spring after the campaign ends.
During OktoberForest, Hardywood — which has participated for the past three years — will be hosting an event for The Nature Conservancy as a gathering space after they complete a river clean-up with the James River Park System on October 17.
Outside of the OktoberForest campaign, Hardywood runs on 100 percent clean power through Dominion Energy’s Green Power Program. They also donate to the James River Association, and source their grains and brew ingredients from local farms.
“We like being involved with The Nature Conservancy in any way,” Patrick Murtaugh, co-founder and brewmaster of Hardywood said. “They asked us to be a part of this, and it was an easy ‘yes’ for us. We hope to be involved with them in the future.”
Top Image via OktoberForest/The Nature Conservancy