One of the things we find most energizing about making cider is the process of transformation that occurs. We have the privilege of seeing this entire journey unfold before our eyes; from sunlight, to soil, to tree, to fruit, to juice, to cider. What starts off as fruit on an apple tree eventually becomes the delicious beverage that fills our glasses at the dinner table and inspires conversation amongst friends.
When we talk about this process with our customers, people are often compelled by the notion that it all originates with actual apples, picked from trees and pressed into juice. Not surprisingly, many of these people have bountiful apple trees on their property; alas, many of them lament the fact that most of the apples go to waste year after year, because they’re too tart, too bruised, or simply too plentiful to be consumed entirely. We felt compelled to help find a solution that would not only preserve (and enhance!) the quality of these apples, but also tell the story of our larger community’s commitment to sustainability and food circularity.
...And that’s where the community cider project originated. We put a call out to everyone in our network to let us know if they had too many apples to deal with, and were thrilled by the number of responses we received. Whether people had a small basket or multiple bushells, every contribution added to the uniqueness of the batch. In our experience, craft cider benefits from having as much varietal diversity as possible, and this was certainly the case last year. This cider really encapsulated the impressive bounty of quality fruit that can be found all around us - all we had to do was grab the low-hanging fruit!
Last year, the cider itself was delicious, and the response from the community was incredibly positive; but the project is about more than just the cider that ended up in each individual bottle. There are a number of memories that have stuck with us from the project, in each of the past two years: harvesting apples from the trees in our orchard and nearby farms in August and September; pressing these same apples with the help of some of our most energized contributors and customers; watching the juice ferment and mature over time, as these apples’ transformational journey continued; and finally, gathering dozens of friends on the day of our cask tapping to celebrate the project and quite literally enjoy the fruits of their community. Even though the celebration might look a little different this year, we’ve felt the presence of everyone who’s been involved - in any way - throughout.
Running this initiative for the second time during an ever-unfolding pandemic gave us a greater sense of gratitude for everyone who has played a role. We’ve come to cherish these opportunities for community engagement and togetherness that much more. The project has shown us how vibrant and vitalized our community is, through good times and bad, and in the midst of the unpredictable year we’ve lived through, we hope that this year’s batch of Community Harvest can share this story with anyone who cracks a bottle.
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