SA: Johannesburg engineer build hop farm on rooftop

Hops are a key ingredient in brewing beer. One might argue it is the lifeblood of beer manufacturing. Very much like wine grapes, these green leafy cones are geography-specific. In South Africa, farmers typically grow and harvest hops in George once a year as the climate conditions are optimal for the crop.

But in the heart of Johannesburg, a vibrant civil engineer and entrepreneur is showing off his science skills to visitors with his successful hydroponic hop farm on the rooftop of Constitution Hill.

Using specific nutrient-rich water, Khaya Maloney (32) has been able to grow this soil-needing plant in the middle of the city atop a historical building. Constitution Hill, now a museum, was originally built as a fort and is known as a former prison where both Nelson and Winnie Mandela were incarcerated during apartheid.

“There are only 402 hectares of hop yards, and all hop growers supply to one major conglomerate. That didn’t sit right with me,” Says Khaya.

Most craft brewers in South Africa import their hops. Khaya came up with a four-season hop yard concept and is now able to supply the need for locally grown fresh hops in an eco-friendly and sustainable way at a reasonable price.

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