Vernon’s O’Keefe Ranch proposes hop farm, microbrewery

Click to play video: 'Vernon’s O’Keefe Ranch thinks outside the box to stay in the black' Vernon’s O’Keefe Ranch thinks outside the box to stay in the black
Watch: O’Keefe Ranch is hoping micro-brewing will help it become financially self-sustaining. – Mar 7, 2019

In an effort to become self-sustaining, a Vernon-area historic site is proposing some new money-making ventures.

However, O’Keefe Ranch’s proposals to build a microbrewery, a hops farm and a columbarium have received mixed responses from city hall.

The historic site is run by a non-profit society but remains reliant on the City of Vernon, which owns the site, for around 10 per cent of its operating budget.

The ranch’s recent proposals for brewing and a cemetery addition are an effort to change that.

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“The city has been very supportive of us and of our strategic plan,” Tim Gibson, the ranch’s new manager of finance and marketing, said.

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“We are just putting the proposals in front of them, and they make the decisions based on the research.”

City council has put off the decision on the microbrewery and hop farm to seek legal advice. The ranch is hoping to replace its cornfield with hops and create an organic microbrewery on the site.

Meanwhile, council did not support the idea of building a columbarium to inter cremated remains.

“That plan has kind of stalled at this point,” Gibson said.

WATCH: Christmas at O’Keefe Ranch

“It was just another way to generate revenue to have it up. There is a decommissioned cemetery on site so it was kind of just a way to build off of that.”

Still, the ranch is staying positive about the process.

“It is a relationship that we are building with the city, and we have a strategic plan. We are just trying to figure out what proposals they will entertain, which they are not willing to support,” Gibson said.

The city didn’t make anyone available for an interview on Thursday, citing the mayor’s busy schedule, confidentiality issues and the fact that the topic remains before council.

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If approved, it would still be years before any brewery was built.

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