What a great and busy month we have had at Mother Earth. In addition to releasing the third beer in our Windowpane Series, Fig and Raisin, we also received our LEED® Gold certification. We are very proud to receive LEED® certification and we have made it into a lifestyle, both in our personal and in our business lives. For those of you who don’t know, LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a voluntary, consensus-based, market-driven program sponsored by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) that provides third-party verification of green buildings. We have always looked for ways to reduce our carbon footprint as Mother Earth has continued to grow, so you can imagine how many fun and touching stories we have. One, in particular, we shared over a year ago but found it fitting to share this story again this month in celebration of our Gold LEED® certification and as we get ready for Earth Day in April.
Over three and a half years ago, Mother Earth Brewing began making great beer brewed close to nature. Since that time, we have actively searched for opportunities that not only limit our footprint, but also give back to the land, creating a cycle of sorts that benefits us all in some small way. This is a story about one such opportunity.
As you probably know, malt is a main ingredient of beer. What you might not know is that breweries use A LOT of malt. In fact, the average 40bbl batch of beer (the size of the batches we brew at Mother Earth) requires 2,400 lbs. of malt. Malt arrives at the brewery in 55 pound “malt bags”- picture the modern version of a burlap sack. Once the malt is added to the brew, the bag has fulfilled its purpose and is tossed aside. It is easy to see how those malt bags quickly accumulate. Walk into nearly any craft brewery, and in some random corner, you’re likely to come across a disheveled stack of discarded malt bags.
One day, Mother Earth Brewmaster Josh Brewer glanced over at that ever-growing pile, and said to himself, "There must be some way to give those bags a purpose again.” In an effort to do so, he created a simple post on Craigslist: “Free malt bags.” What happened next truly amazed us. Just moments after making the post, Josh received a response: “I’ll take all the bags you have.” The reply came from James West at the North Carolina Forest Service. As the Nursery and Tree Improvement Program Head, James knew just how to re-purpose those bags: to help collect some 70,000 pounds of tree seeds. A few emails later, James was on his way from Goldsboro to claim an enormous stack of malt bags.
You might be surprised to learn that the North Carolina Forest Service operates a massive “seedling” program (a seedling is a young plant, grown from a seed.) The program began in 1954, and starts about 3 million trees a year from the 70,000 pounds of seed collected across NC. Every County in NC collects seeds (a tedious process done by hand),places the seeds in malt bags, and sends the seeds to Goldsboro to be cleaned and otherwise prepared for planting. About 50 different species are collected. Once the seeds develop into one year old seedlings, they are used for forest, wetlands and wildlife restoration. To successfully operate the program, the North Carolina Forest Service used to purchase roughly 2,500 malt bags a year. Not any longer.
The partnership between Mother Earth Brewing and the North Carolina Forest Service not only makes that disheveled pile of malt bags disappear, it offers Mother Earth one more opportunity to give back to the land and yet another way to reduce our carbon footprint.
So, as you go throughout your day and months ahead, think to yourself, “What can you do to reduce your carbon footprint and what can you do to savor the goodness of Mother Earth?"
Wishing Everyone, Peace, Love, and Beer®,