Please note that this blog is a work of fiction.
Today I drove into town, ten miles in my SUV, a car that still looks conspicuously new. I like it but it certainly identifies me as outsider, newbie, one of those rich people from the city playing farmer. I’m not that of course, but can’t blame other people for thinking it. Got to drive through some big mud puddles soon.
Went to meet a man who owns an apple crusher and press and also a bottling works. For a fee he will crush, press, pasteurize and bottle your apples. We talked about how much juice you get from how many apples. We talked about what happens to the apple pulp after juicing (it goes to local pig farmers) and we talked about the relative merits of going for regular juice or the more complex business of alcoholic cider. The cider industry is booming but all that means is that many more people are making and drinking it than they were twenty years ago. The percentages are much higher but the real numbers are still pretty small.
I find myself strangely drawn to the world of craft cider brewing. I say “strangely” because I don’t actually like to drink the stuff. Gives me a headache with the first sip. But who can resist the allure of being an artisan-brewer? Going to fairs, winning blue ribbons, having a quirky and engaging label. All these are going through my head as I’m talking to Tom, the press guy.
“You know,” he said taking off his baseball cap and scratching his head “a lot of the guys who do the micro-cider brewing are losing money on it. They’re guys who’ve made a killing in the city and have the money to lose.” He looked me up and down in a way that was appraising—but somehow like appraising my business acumen rather than my body—“You don’t seem like that sort.”
Wasn’t quite sure how he figured that out. I had been worried that my appearance screamed “More money than sense!” but now I’m worried that I don’t even convey that. Or maybe he meant that I looked like a sensible sort.
Anyway, I said I would probably just start with juice. Can’t really go wrong with juice. He nodded and said that juice required less financial investment but that you do have to make sure you hit all the town and country fairs if you want to develop a name for yourself.
I’m thinking I may have to get a business partner. I have all these plans. Have I mentioned jam? No, I haven’t. I want to make jam—apple, plum, cherry, pear. Sell at farmer’s markets and maybe to hotels. The problem is—I’ve never made jam in my life and my only training so far has been YouTube videos.
I did not explain this all to Tom but I thanked him for his advice. As I was leaving, he said “You know, I know your land. Some relatives used to own in in the seventies. As kids, we’d go up there a lot during the summer. Great place….beautiful place.” But he was looking into the distance and looking unaccountably sad.