By Casey Verderosa
New Rev member company Finger Lakes Cider House has already been serving the region with its organic crops, later expanded to its signature hard ciders, for over a decade. The bright wooden cider house, constructed by its co-owners themselves, rests on the 69 acres that is Good Life Farm.
“In the first five years, no one really came to the farm and now many, many thousands of people come through here every year and see local agriculture,” said co-owner Garrett Miller. “We’re certainly growing. Every year we’re seeing significantly more people. And we get good reception from the public. People are becoming more aware of cider now.”
The cider house’s growing customer base is one way that Miller and co-owner Melissa Madden ’04 measure their business’s success. Another just as consequential achievement they celebrate is more biological in nature – making the land upon which they farm better and healthier than it was when they first purchased it.
“When we got here, there were only a couple species of organisms, like corn and the moths that eat corn. And that was about it,” said Miller. “Now we have hundreds of species – predatory birds, amphibians, turtles, insects, hundreds of vegetation species. That feels like a very foundational success.”
In addition to regenerating the soil and improving biodiversity on the farm, the cider house’s co-founders want to reconnect people with agriculture – getting them onto a farm, eating local food, and picking fruit from trees. That’s why the business offers U-pick orchards and features local foods on its cider house menu.
Miller grew up in the area and loves the community culture. He’s connecting people to the earth in a general sense but also keenly appreciates his geographic area and the pulling together of community he’s able to participate in through local farming, local food, and even local musicians to perform at the cider house.
As Miller and Madden expand their business, they’re looking to the Rev community to acquire more expertise in the areas of branding, marketing, and legal and financial strategy. “We’re both excited about the opportunity to work with highly skilled, motivated mentors that specialize in a lot of areas that we need development in,” said Miller.
Up next for the Finger Lakes Cider House is an interest in growing its direct-to-consumer shipping as a scalable and powerful way to connect with people all over the country. The company will also be seeking investors and in the next few months is looking to hire an office administrator.