Computer analyst turns to hops farming to follow life dream in Townsend

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TOWNSEND, Tenn. (WVLT) A man who once analyzed and studied numbers on a computer screen decided to change his life's direction when he fell in love with beer.

Trent Gilland used to study numbers behind a computer screen for a living. Or as he puts it, "doing data analytics and customer analysis". But sitting in an office all day was too boring for him, so he turned to farming.

But not just any farming. He grows hops for a living now. Hops are what give craft beers their bitter flavor and aroma, and Gilland was hooked immediately.

"It's not about tasks and duties and deadlines. It's about seasons. It's about delicious beer," Gilland said. "If you smell them, you fall in love with them immediately. You can't beat that."

Nationwide, hops are in high demand. More and more people are brewing their own beer at home, and micro-breweries are popping up every day.

Gilland saw an opportunity to be a part of a booming business and ran with it. And it turns out East Tennessee is a good place for growing hops. But the first year he planted the hops, he and his wife still lived in North Carolina. Gilland had to come to Townsend every other weekend to tend his plants. When they started thriving, that's when
he said it was a sign to pursue this new adventure full-time.

He moved to Townsend and planted 500 hops.

"After they did well for two years, I planted another 500 hops. And once those do well, we'll probably plant another 500 hops until we get them as far as you can see," Gilland explained.

Gilland is currently working with local Knoxville based, Saw Works Brewing Company to be their supplier of hops. He said they are still working out the details on that plan, but is hopeful that one day East Tennesseeans will be able to pick up any locally brewed beer, and his hops will be what they are drinking.

"So they can brew fresh hopped beer and they can have hops from the bine to the brew in the same day."

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