PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A fifth-generation Oregon hops farmer received a prestigious, international award in July for his excellence and contributions to the craft. 

Bill Coleman, who owns Fairfield Farms under Coleman Agriculture, was given the International Order of the Hop Award. The accolades come from the International Hop Congress, an organization that advocates for the interest of hop growers and merchants. 

Blake Crosby owns a farm near St. Paul, not far from Coleman Agriculture, and he’s president of the Hop Growers of America. He nominated Coleman for the award. 

“It means a lot,” Coleman said humbly, quickly turning the conversation to Crosby and praising him in return. “He made sure that my name was nominated, so I can thank him for that.”

Coleman Agriculture has been growing hops for more than a century. The farm’s been in the family since the mid-1800s and Coleman said his parents purchased it in 1935. 

Since then, Coleman and his brothers have grown the business into Coleman Agriculture – a collection of hop, hazelnut, vegetable and seed crop farms throughout the Willamette Valley.  

To be considered for the award Coleman received, nominees must be leading hop growers, brewers, teachers, or drinkers of good beer. 

Coleman has been perfecting his farmcraft for decades.Through the years, he and his brothers developed more efficient machinery to make harvesting and working the soil between the plants easier. 

He’s also adapted his farming practices to be better for the environment, like by switching from using sprinklers to using drip lines to save water. 

“[The award] speaks to the legacy, the work ethic that this family has, the sense of community that they’ve built with their workforce and just their ingenuity and being able to pivot and try new things,” his daughter-in-law Jen Coleman said. 

Now, Bill Coleman is watching the sixth and seventh generations in the family learn to manage the farm and he’s sharing his knowledge with them. He said he and his grandson Jacob – Jen’s son – will practice testing the dryness of the hops during harvest. 

Bill Coleman will do it by touch and his grandson will use an instrument to see how accurate he is. 

Coleman hopes future generations will continue to keep the farm in operation, but said, “I’m not going to tell them what to do.” 

Instead, he continues to create an environment that people (his family members included) want to work in. He said good people are the reason his farm has maintained its excellence over the years. 

“I was always taught you treat the crew like you want to be treated, and you’re no more important than they are,” Coleman said. 

He wants his legacy to be that he put his family in a position for them to keep going. 

“I think, taken care of right, they will be around as long as anybody,” he said. “If people drink beer, they need hops. They go hand in hand.”