By Roszan Holmen – Saanich News
Published: July 02, 2008 8:00 AM
When Kristen Jordan opened her organic cidery last year, she knew her product wouldn’t grow to rival Molson Canadian.
Armed with degrees in economics and environmental management, she calculated that hers could only be a niche market – those willing to pay a premium for a quality product using nothing but the best cider apples.
While her orchard in Central Saanich is still young, she expects to harvest 10,000 pounds of apples this year. That number should triple by next year and she hopes to grow her business as her trees mature.
The certified organic labels, however, don’t come easy.
“The challenge in the orchard means there’s no quick fix and it means there’s a lot more manual labour in terms of weeding,” Jordan says.
Growing apples without pesticides or herbicides costs about twice as much as growing regular apples.
Producing organic cider means avoiding all non-organic additives and preservatives. “Big commercial industries, they just used culled fruit and it doesn’t matter how bruised it is and how rotten it is, it’ll just go into a big crusher,” Jordan says.
Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse must avoid apples with rot and cut out any bruises by hand, Jordan adds. “We don’t use any chemicals to kill those type of infections that can taint the entire cider batch.”
Despite the cost, she’s confident there’s a demand for her product. Last year the cidery sold about 1,000 cases, prompting the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce to select the fledgling company best new business for 2007.
While only a niche market for now, organic and other sustainable businesses will reach a wider consumer demographic, predicts Mike Valente, a University of Victoria assistant business professor with a focus on sustainability.
As demand for organic produce rises, organic farmers will be able to create economies of scale, he says. With lower costs, prices will also drop, making products more accessible to the mainstream.
Valente also predicts that with more education about the health and environmental benefits of organic produce, more people will make the switch.
The interest is evident in his own department. UVic has one of the only business departments with mandatory classes in sustainability. The response, says Valente, has been overwhelmingly positive. “We’re bombarded with students trying to find out how they get involved in a career with sustainability.”
Sea Cider is at 2487 Mount St. Michael Rd. Call 544-4824 or go to www.seacider.ca.