Who We Are
Sinagua Malt is an Arizona benefit corporation located in Camp Verde, Arizona. Sinagua Malt was created to provide a market solution for declining flows in rivers and streams. The Directors of Sinagua Malt work pro bono to support local farmers and keep rivers and streams flowing.
In 2015 Chip Norton, Verde Conservation District Supervisor, and Kim Schonek, Verde River Water Transactions Manager for The Nature Conservancy, were working with local farmers to adopt irrigation practices that used less water while increasing crop productivity. Both the yield and the barley quality were good, so Kim and the Hauser family coordinated to plant approximately 144 acres of malt barley in January 2017. At that time, Kim suggested that a seasonal shift in crops, such as switching from alfalfa (a high water demand summer crop) to winter wheat (a lower water demand winter/spring crop) could also improve summer river flows.
Crop Connsumptive Use is the amount of water taken from the system to produce a crop. Barley and corn have similar consumptive uses but a different growing season in the arid Southwest. The mean monthly streamflow in the Verde River compared to crop consumptive use demonstrates that corn needs water most when it is least available.
After further research, Kim and Chip embarked on a malt barley pilot project with Hauser Farms in Camp Verde, Arizona. Zach Hauser planted 15 acres of Harrington 2-row malt barley at TNC’s Shield Ranch in February 2016 and harvest occurred in late June. Both the yield and the barley quality were good, so Kim and the Hauser family coordinated to plant approximately 125 acres of malt barley in February 2017. Chip, working with fellow Director Steve Ayers, created a business plan and agreed to develop a malt house in Camp Verde, ready to operate in fall 2017.
How Farmers and Craft Brewers Keep Rivers Flowing
- The Nature Conservancy works with local farmers to shift from a traditional summer crop, such as corn or alfalfa, to a late winter/spring crop, such as malt barley. This shift to a crop that provides equivalent revenue at a different time of year results in less irrigation water diverted from the river during the high-demand, low streamflow summer period. The result is more water in rivers for people and wildlife, and a profitable crop for local farmers.
- Sinagua Malt purchases the raw barley, processes it, and sells the resultant malt, the base ingredient in beer, to craft brewers.
- Craft brewers who value local farm products and flowing rivers produce quality beer.
- Beer drinkers quaff delicious beer, knowing that they are supporting local farmers and flowing rivers, a great combination!