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Popular North Okanagan cidery prepares for spring opening

FILE PHOTO - Farmstrong Cider Company in Armstrong.
FILE PHOTO - Farmstrong Cider Company in Armstrong.
Image Credit: Howard Alexander

A bustling Armstrong cidery, that saw a busy outdoor season throughout the pandemic, opens for the season next month.

Jeff and Halee Fried have been farming for 30 years and opened the Farmstrong Cider Company back in 2018 in what they originally planned would be a retirement project out of an old historic barn, Halee said.

The retirement project was quickly kiboshed and soon became a family affair. The couple’s two boys, their daughters-in-law and Halee’s sister help keep the cidery running.

“The site itself is unique, having this old barn, there’s not a lot in terms of that around here and we wanted it to be a place for people to come and spend time with their families and create memories,” Halee said. “People will drive from Kamloops to meet people here from Kelowna and Revelstoke, it’s just a real gathering place.”

FILE PHOTO - Farmstrong Cider Company in Armstrong.
FILE PHOTO - Farmstrong Cider Company in Armstrong.
Image Credit: Howard Alexander

Cider is made on-site at 4300 Maw Rd. in Armstrong using many of the apples they grow themselves as well as from other local farmers. The chicken and beef served is also raised on the Fried farm.

“In terms of the produce, we buy that all locally, we have some market gardeners that contract grow for us so our chefs plan with them early in the season, decide what’s going to be on the menu for the next year and they grow accordingly to that,” Halee said.

They also create and sell compost to other wineries in the area. “We just really try to have it as local and as close to home as possible,” she said.

She thinks the pandemic has increased the local understanding of supply chains and how sensitive they are.

READ MORE: The Jammery's second location now open in Kelowna

“You just can’t support local when it’s convenient and trendy, like if you want these things here you’ve got to go to your local farmer and buy goods. Especially, with the whole flooding thing and everything too, it’s shown people yes it may be grown here but it’s taken to the coast and packaged and you may not get it back,” Halee said.

COVID-19 forced people outside and they saw more customers when the weather wasn’t ideal, a new trend born out of the pandemic. They’re also expecting to have a busier season as other businesses may have closed or there are fewer options to travel, she said.

This season, they’re collaborating with Helmut's Sausage Kitchen to showcase the best hot dog in the valley, she said.

Packaging has been a challenge this year, so they’re sticking with their tried and true cider this year due to supply chain issues. They’ll also be introducing canning items this year.

An official opening will be held at the cidery on April 9 at 12 p.m., with food, a horse-drawn wagon and live music.

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