Maryana and Steve Ferguson
Husband and wife duo Steve and Maryana Ferguson created Great Barn Brewery to give new meaning to their family-owned farm, and have in turn helped revitalize the agriculture community in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Together, they have fostered a local, sustainable beer-brewing ecosystem that is "uncomplicated, unadulterated, close to its source, and coming from the heart."
Tell us the story of this farm microbrewery.
Maryana: We started brewing beer in Bucks County only a few years ago. My father-in-law has had this farmland in his family for about 40 years. He wanted to do something with land but it’s a difficult time in this country for a working farmer, especially in the North East. So, together we started to explore some options. We came up with the idea for a farm microbrewery just as our township had started thinking about changing specific zoning laws that may have prohibited us from starting this business. We learned that as New York State started changing similar zoning laws, breweries and cideries started popping up all over the place and revitalizing the agriculture community.
Back in the days of prohibition, barley had been essentially completely erased from the North East farming region, and the malting industry went out of business and never really returned. Slowly, companies have been trying to bring that back to the East Coast. We got approval from the township to convert my father-in-laws 1976 barn into our microbrewery on our 117 acres of land. 2 years ago, we planted our first batch of barley, and eventually filled up our silo to capacity and began to brew our own beer.
What does “Farm to Glass” mean to you?
We are committed to growing the root of our beer at our farm, that’s why we call our practice “farm to glass.” That’s why we opened the taproom right outside the farm, so people can see and taste just how local our beer really is.
It’s important for people to be able to enjoy our beer as closely to the land as possible, because it simply tastes like what the land gives us.
We promote the bond between nature, farming, and brewing by creating a distinctive beer that is truly a product of the soil.
What else is local about your beer?
When we started this business there were also no malters in the area. The closest one we could find was in Virgina. But now, there are local malt houses that have also revitalize this lost craft. We work, quite crucially, with a local company called Double Eagle Malt to process our barley nearby. We get all of our water from the springs and wells on the farm, so we are able to avoid certain industrial water solutions and the pollution that would cause. We also support other farmers by locally sourcing specialty ingredients such as hops, fruits, and honey.
What about Bucks County is special to you?
I am originally from the Ukraine, and Bucks County reminds me very much of my hometown - the river, the mix of cultures, the positive atmosphere, the open land, and the beautiful farming community. For me, this is home now.
What do you like about being a business owner?
I love the creative freedom. Being able to freely discuss recipes and beer styles and let our imaginations run wild. I actually design all of our beer logos, labels, and art around the taproom, so that artistic creativity has been really great for me, too. Granted, I still clean the beer tanks and the bathrooms, but that’s all part of it!
What drew you to Inspire?
When we switched to wind power with Inspire, it was honestly a dream come true for us. My husband and I recently went to Holland together and we were in awe of all of the wind turbines there. Interestingly, Holland supplies nearly all of Europe with it’s amazing produce and flowers, yet it is such a small country. They know how to use their resources and operate as a self sufficient country, regardless of its small size. We wanted to develop this type of system in our own backyard. If we can emulate that model - sustainable, self-sufficient, and local - maybe others will follow.