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Hope Grows at Wheatland Spring Farm + Brewery

Harvesting their own grains and yeasts for country ales and lagers, Bonnie and John Branding are out to prove they can build a sustainable farm business by growing beers that taste like their place.

Joe Stange May 19, 2021 - 26 min read

Hope Grows at Wheatland Spring Farm + Brewery Primary Image

An old wooden horse fence separates the east and west fields on Bonnie and John Branding’s 30-acre Virginia farm. Growing into and around the boards of that fence is a knotty cherry tree.

A few years ago—not long after they bought the farm—John was clearing weeds from that fence line. He examined the tree: small and shrubby, it didn’t look like it would amount to much. “It was early in the spring, so it hadn’t flowered yet,” he says. “I didn’t realize it was a cherry tree, and I went out there with the chainsaw. And I was like, ‘Hey, Bonnie, I was just going to take this out, any objection?’

“She’s like, ‘No, don’t touch it! It’s going to be beautiful!’ So I cleared everything else around it, and it just stood there like this giant shrub. I went ahead and trimmed it, but it came up.

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Joe Stange is Managing Editor of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® and the Brewing Industry Guide®. Have story tips or suggestions? Contact him at [email protected].