Bend's Worthy Garden Club comes up with its own unifying theory: Beer and cosmos

The Hopservatory's dome, which houses a large telescope, is a prominent feature for the Worthy Garden Club and Worthy Brewing in Bend, Oregon just off Highway 20 in the east part of town. (Photo: Steve Benham/KATU.com Staff)

The artwork in the Worthy Garden Club’s “Transporter Room” sums up what this nonprofit on the east side of town is all about.

At the bottom of a giant circular wall painting, the fiery core of the earth erupts, belching lava and fire upward and onto the planet’s crust, which is covered with the greenness of plant life. From there the oceans dominate, but then the painting morphs into the vastness of space: All things are connected.

Oh yeah, and it’s also about beer. Visitors can sip a brew from Worthy Brewing and then ascend into the dome of an observatory to peer into the heavens through a telescope.

The Worthy Garden Club, founded in 2015, has fused its hopyard and its observatory, aptly named Hopservatory, into an organization aimed at educating the public about sustainability, science and the human race’s place in the universe.

The Hopservatory’s dome houses a large professional-grade telescope -- a 16-inch reflector -- enabling the public to get close-up views of planets, star clusters, nebulae, galaxies and more.

The goal, says the observatory’s manager, Grant Tandy, is to allow visitors to see, learn about, experience and respect their place in the grandness of the cosmos.

“This planet we have is perfect for our kind of life. It really makes you appreciate what we have, and we need to take care of it maybe a little better,” he said about gazing into the vastness of space. “We’re not just about looking out for fun -- that’s part of it, of course -- but if we can plant a seed, get people thinking outside the box and about bigger ideas, that’s definitely the goal.”

On clear nights when the observatory is open, Tandy says visitors can expect to see the best celestial sights available the night of their visit, including planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mars, when they’re visible. And when the moon’s out, they can gaze upon its scarred, intricate and ancient surface.

Hopservatory opened May 2017. It’s free, but donations are encouraged. Click here for its schedule and more information.

Technical support for the telescope is provided by the Oregon Observatory at Sunriver.

Hops, Yes, But So Much More

The hops garden creates an oasis for exploration and research in the parking lot, as well as an escape from the stores, restaurants, apartment buildings and hotels in the area.

It’s growing 20 varieties of hops. Lisa Sanco, the program coordinator of the garden and a horticulturalist, works closely with hops breeding experts at Oregon State University with the goal of growing better hops to make better beer.

But a recent visit to the garden revealed that so much more is going on. Sanco has planted a wide variety of plants and flowers that surround the hops bines.

She has also set up a honeybee hive. Her first attempt with the bees didn’t work out, she says. But this year, things appeared to be abuzz. On a recent warm day on the cusp of summer, the bees were thriving in their top bar hive.

There are two insect hotels, which seemed to be successfully attracting various bugs, and Sanco has constructed a composting system, too. She has essentially created a thriving ecosystem in the high desert of central Oregon.

The idea, she says, is to try to figure out how to create these ecosystems and grow hops in an arid climate.

But overall, the garden is about sustainability and educating people on best practices.

“I think the (Worthy) Garden Club is really valuable in the community, because it’s kind of a central place for people to come and learn about gardening and, also, other science topics, sustainable living topics, in their community,” she said. “We provide the public concrete things they can do in their day-to-day lives to decrease their carbon footprint.”

Sanco invites the public to check out the garden. She’s placed various signs around it to help visitors learn about what’s growing and what projects she’s working on. She says most of the events she holds are free.

A Note About Worthy Brewing

Sandwiched between the Hopservatory and the garden is Worthy Brewing. The brewery and restaurant is a for-profit enterprise, but many of the same people responsible for the garden and the Hopservatory run them. The owners are striving to be an example of a business that can be both sustainable and profitable.

For example, the roof is adorned with more than 100 solar panels that are used to preheat the water for use in the brewhouse and the restaurant. The company says the panels save it thousands of dollars a year and helps reduce its carbon footprint.

Much more awaits the visitor: a beer garden, summer concerts, and space for events and parties.

More information: Worthy Brewing

Find Out More

Both the garden and the observatory at Worthy Garden Club host events and speakers during the year. Go to its website here for the latest dates and times, as well as for more information about growing hops, horticulture and astronomy.

Address:

Worthy Garden Club

495 N.E. Bellevue Drive

Bend, OR 97701

(541) 647-6970, Ext. 220


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