A working farm, on 28 acres within the Carolinian Forest range, Charlotteville Brewing Company combines organic gardens, artisanal products, and an earth friendly attitude. Partnering with ALUS to create a pollinator hedgerow fits well with their overriding principle of treading lightly.
Located at 1207 Charlotteville West Quarterline in Simcoe, Ontario, the estate brewery is owned and operated by Melanie Doerksen and Tim Wilson.
In Melanie’s words, “Our goal is to provide an authentic experience that leaves you enamoured with the area, people, and of course, our beer!”
Like most brewers, their beer starts with four basic ingredients — water, hops, yeast, and malt. They also like to experiment with seasonal ingredients, including locally grown fruits and vegetables. ‘Monster Mash’ is a great example – a draught pumpkin ale. Great tasting food goes hand-in-hand with great beer. Charlotteville Brewing Company serves up bar snacks including dips, charcuterie, and grilled sandwiches.
However, Melanie and Tim’s estate brewery includes so much more. They’re conscientious about all aspects of their farm operation, including agroecology which promotes traditional farming practices with an emphasis on land stewardship. The slow food movement is central to their locally sourced food items, and they believe in the importance of building a biodiverse environment. A bee yard and brewery kitchen garden round out their operation, along with planting endangered native species on an annual basis. Thanks to their efforts they’ve established various trees and shrubs, including Paw Paw, Dogwood, Quince, Hops, and Mulberry.
In 2019, Charlotteville Brewing Company collaborated with ALUS Norfolk, turning a portion of their farmland into a pollinator hedgerow consisting of native species, prairie grasses and wildflowers. The project was made possible through the generous support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
ALUS works with local farmers and ranchers to meet the environmental needs of the community by providing farmers with technical support and annual payments for managing and maintaining restoration projects, which increase ecological services over time.
ALUS is unique, because the program is community-developed and farmer-delivered. ALUS recognizes the important role farmers and ranchers play as stewards of the land and empowers them to deliver nature’s benefit on the working landscape.
The pollinator hedgerow fits well with Charlotteville Brewing Company’s overriding principle. In Melanie’s words, “Our modus operandi is to tread as lightly on the Earth as we can. If possible, we’d like to leave it in better shape than we found it”.
Pollinator hedgerows include native grasses such as Indian Grass, wildflowers including Wild Bergamot, and shrubs such as Red Osier Dogwood. These plants provide habitat and create nesting areas for pollinators. The seeds, nectar and berries are valuable for bees and butterflies. Beneficial native plant species promote biological diversity, supporting a wide range of bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, and contribute to increasing the yields of nearby crops.
The pollinator hedgerow provides an educational element to the brewery estate experience.
An interpretive sign at the site highlights information about pollinators and the importance of planting native species. Visitors to the brewery are educated on the benefits of native bees versus honeybees, and that native plants and shrubs require less water, help a garden stay disease-free, and support the local ecosystem. Pollinator gardens are naturally beautiful, as bees and butterflies seek out bright colours and scents.
The pollinator garden is just one of many interesting features at Charlotteville Brewing Company, so stop by and enjoy their fermented libations and organic seasonal fare. Check out their estate brewery housed in century-old barns, ask about their artisanal products and earth friendly farming practices.