Mary Beth Little is the owner of The Little Cider Company located in Harrow, Ontario. She has found making cider to be a natural extension of the family farm. Her ciders are all made from 100% Ontario dessert and heritage apples and farm-fresh produce that have been grown and tended on her family farm. She enjoys experimenting with different apple cider varieties and ingredients, and wants to share them with others.
The Kingsville Times recently interviewed Mary Beth Little about The Little Cider Company.
What was your motivation for starting your business?
Mary Beth Little:
We grow apples (among other fruits and vegetables, which will also be available for sale). There is a wide array of different kinds of cider, beyond the ones you find in the LCBO, that I want to bring to consumers.
My kids are older (ages 10 and 8) so they don’t require as much attention, and working from home has opened up more time to work on this since I don’t need to drive anywhere. It seemed all the stars aligned for me to open a small store at this time. Also, my parents were tired of their cold storage being full of cider.
What advice would you give to others who might be considering starting a business?
I can’t take credit for this but the best piece of advice I can give is to take it one thing at a time. The whole picture can be very overwhelming at times, but if you think of only the next step, it becomes a little more manageable.
Who are your target clients?
How would you describe your services and/or products?
Currently we have one cider available that is lightly carbonated, crisp and clean called “Wright Stuff” as an ode to the Wright family that has been farming in the Colchester area since the late 1800s. It’s also the family that I married into.
We also sell fresh produce that is grown on the family farm like asparagus, peaches, cantaloupe melons, apples and various other produce items.
What is your business motto?
“Cider means family.” It represents the results of all the hard work and long hours spent on the farm to grow quality produce that ends in a quality product.
What do your clients say about your business?
We just opened in June so I haven’t heard too much feedback yet. Other than two people have told me that the biggest complaint they have is that the bottle isn’t big enough!
What are your plans for business growth? New services and/or products that clients can look out for?
It has been a bit hard to start a business during COVID, things moved slower. I’ve started a small operation that allowed me to work around the demands of the farm and to see if there is a desire for cider here in Windsor/Essex. Pieces are still coming together.
As I grow, I would like to offer a variety of different ciders seasonally and ones that are experiments, only the ones that are good, of course! For instance, I have test ciders made with specific cider apples, blends with lavender, lilac, rhubarb, cranberries and hops. Some worked, some didn’t but that is part of the fun.
In the future, another offering is traditional cider which tastes different from what most people are used to. It is made with cider apple varieties, which have more tannins and are more acidic than normal apples. This allows the cider to be aged like a wine so I hope to have those available as well in the near future.
Long term, I envision a place where people can come and feel like they are a part of the family. Where they feel comfortable asking questions and learn about the workings of our farm, testing my cider experimentations and generally enjoying coming to visit.
How has COVID affected your business and what have you done to COVID-proof it?
Luckily or maybe not, I just started so I worked within the confines of COVID restrictions. To COVID-proof it, we maintain the suggested measures, sanitizing items, limiting the number of people inside, etc. Moving forward with more vaccinations and less restrictions, people will be able to get out more and will hopefully enjoy just relaxing.
~ To contact The Little Cider Company ~
The Little Cider Company
957 Ridge Road
Canada N0R 1G0
Fridays – Sunday 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Photos provided by Mary Beth Little
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