“Many people think of the prairies as a place where only grain grows, but there is an abundance of fruit and other edible plants that thrive here. With some creativity I think there is a great opportunity to explore these truly local northern flavours through cider.”
~ NATHAN SMITH
After inheriting some old fermentation equipment from his Ukrainian family, Nathan ventured into the realm of making things like sauerkraut, kombucha and wine.
On his bike commute from work, Nathan noticed the abundance of apples and other fruit all over the city. With his family’s fermentation heirlooms in hand and the discovery of an abundance of free local fruit, Nathan was ready to experiment.
After a few very successful batches, working with the flavours that he and many other Edmontonians grew up with – mouth puckering crabapples, rhubarb, raspberries – a passion was born.
Nathan is a graduate of Peter Mitchell’s Cider & Perry Academy through Washington State University and a certified cidermaker through the Cider Institute of North America. He is currently finishing a Certificate in Prairie Horticulture through the University of Saskatchewan. Besides cidermaking, he takes the lead on pruning, grafting and training our fruit trees.
“Making craft cider is more than just fermenting a drink; it’s a connection to our environment, our food system, our communities, and those who have shared their knowledge with us.”
~ KRISTY RHYASON
While living on a permaculture project in a tiny village in the south of Spain, Kristy’s love of growing food and community building really took hold. Combined with a social marketing internship at an ecotourism non-profit in Ecuador, Kristy developed a passion to educate people through tangible experiences in sustainable living and community development. When she returned to Edmonton, Kristy used her skills locally to teach food production and gardening skills in a multicultural preschool classroom.
During Nathan’s time at Cider School, Kristy took the “home school” approach and visited many cidermakers across Canada and the US to learn from their experience and develop her cider skills. Kristy is a Certified Cider Professional through the United States Association of Cider Makers
Kristy’s professional background in marketing & communications gave us the ability to tell our story, educate people and build a community of people who love cider.
Piggy & Oliver
Official Cider Supervisors
Piggy and Oliver are arguably one of the most important pieces of the Prairie North Cider team. Besides supervising much of the happenings during fruit picking season, they also keep us sane by taking us for walks and joining us on long car rides. Piggy is a Boxer/Bulldog cross who has become an expert raspberry forager and apple stealer. Oliver is a Boston Terrier/Australian Shepherd who is a very good boy that loves to run around the orchard and protect it from rabbit invaders. They are both rescues through Zoe’s Animal Rescue.
The Prairie North Cider Extended Family
We could not be where we are today without the help of our friends and family. A special shout out to the people in our lives who have been there picking fruit, building equipment, giving us brutally honest feedback, and providing a shoulder to collapse on during apple season.
In particular, we would like to acknowledge the following people who have donated extensive time & expertise (and probably should have been paid to do so…):
Lorin & Rochelle Kirchner
Samantha & Amy Porter