Back in late January, the Heartwood team - which was now four people strong, with the additions of myself and our cidersmith, Matt - booked a two-day planning retreat to discuss our vision for the upcoming year. Together, we devised a strategy that we all felt really good about.
Well, as they say, hindsight's 20/20 (or in this case, 2020?), and much of what we had planned needed to be overhauled completely. It was a good reminder that there's only so much you can control - in business, in cider-making, and in life.
But as I reflect on the chaos of the year we've all lived through, one of the things I'm grateful for is the creativity, ingenuity, and imagination that came out of our team on the farm this year. We're a team comprised of only four people, and yet the diversity of perspectives we shared helped to provide more nuance and enrich conversations. We all had slightly different ideas of how best to engage with and inspire our customers, new and old... and while this led to disagreements at times, we benefitted from embracing the diversity in the room. We're all unique people who share a common objective, and by viewing our difference as an opportunity rather than a barrier we can move forward constructively.
In many ways, our cider operation mirrors this idea. When creating a new batch of cider, or experimenting with new ingredients, we think not only about the quality of the product, but also its uniqueness. How does it distinguish itself from the rest of our ciders? How does it complement them? The world of craft encourages never-ending innovation and exploration - a sentiment we want to capture with each of our products. We've been fortunate to have some wonderful visitors come out to the farm this year to enjoy physically-distanced tastings; while we're always fascinated to hear which cider a customer considers their favourite, it's even more poignant when someone comments on the way that diversity enhances the experience. After all, each cider has a slightly different story behind it, and each one fits into the landscape in a distinct, exciting way. As new seasonal beverages come and go, we try to ensure that there's always a healthy amount of diversity, so that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.
Diversity is a big part of the craft industry, and we're happy that our community has such a strong appreciation for it. Whether you're enjoying a flight of cider on a crisp fall afternoon, or a conversation with friends, family, or colleagues around the table (or on zoom), I encourage you to embrace the diversity you see around you.