Dyersville event highlights sustainability in agriculture, brewing

DYERSVILLE, Iowa — A Dyersville brewery hosted a full house of farmers on Wednesday for an event focused on sustainability in agriculture and brewing.

The “Farm to Brew” event at Textile Brewing Co. featured presentations from Evan Brehm of Indigo Ag, Textile owner Tom Olberding, Liz Haney of Soil Regen and Regen Mills, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach field agricultural engineer Brian Dougherty. About 50 people came for the talks and to try Textile’s brews.

Brehm shared with the crowd a few facts about Textile’s ReGenRye Amber Ale, a drink featuring Iowa hops and rye grown on a regenerative farm. Regenerative farming practices focus on improving soil health and water quality and preventing soil erosion.

“You’re literally pouring soil health into your glass,” Brehm said.

Brehm noted regenerative farming has become a buzzword in agriculture. He said important soil health efforts include implementing no-till practices to minimize soil disturbance, planting cover crops to protect soil, integrating livestock and ensuring plant diversity.

Brehm said not every practice will be possible for everyone and that farmers should focus on their own goals to improve soil health in the next year and in the next 20 years.

Olberding said Textile is interested in various aspects of sustainability, both to protect the planet and as cost-saving measures.

Olberding said the tables at which attendees sat and the light fixtures hanging overhead all were made of reused materials from the sewing factory that existed in the building before it was a brewery. The business also has a solar-panel covered roof and an electric vehicle charging station outside.

Haney, a soil and ecosystem scientist, connected the sense of community at breweries with the community found among those practicing regenerative agriculture.

She told farmers about Soil Regen’s efforts to educate farmers and the public on regenerative agriculture, as well as efforts to make those practices more profitable for farmers. Regen Mills is focused on marketing products from regenerative farms.

“People are willing to pay a premium for products that have better water quality, improve the environment and improve biodiversity,” she said.

Lance Lillibridge, president of the Board of Directors for Iowa Corn Growers Association, attended the presentations. The association helped sponsor the event.

Lillibridge said water quality, one of the event’s focuses, is important for both farmers and breweries.

“Having quality water to make your product is very important,” he said. “Farmers are very, very engaged in water quality. One important thing to remember about water quality that a lot of people don’t think about is that, as farmers, we drink the water that’s beneath our feet.”

Greg Alber, who farms north of Independence, Iowa, also attended the event.

“Anything that gets the word and the message out about what we’re doing is great,” he said of the event and its spotlight on regenerative farming.