Mark Ashley, owner of Wintermoor Orchard in York, and girlfriend Janine Taylor sell cider from Ashley’s outdoor booth Saturday at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market on Belvedere Avenue. The weeks leading up to Christmas sees Ashley’s cider sales increase by approximately 50 per cent. Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald
Christmas is a busy time of the year for Wintermoor Orchard in York.
Owner Mark Ashley said while the orchard sells cider year-round, the product is most heavily in demand during December.
“It sure is popular (this time of year),” said Ashley, in his booth at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market on Saturday. “The last few weeks before Christmas, our sales go up probably 50 per cent.”
The cider is popular for the many parties that surround the holidays. Being non-alcoholic, Ashley points out that some also enjoy drinking it warm at night in place of tea.
Ashley’s orchard in York has about 1,000 trees on seven acres. While at least 14 varieties are grown, only eight are used in the cider.
However, only Ashley and those involved with the business will know exactly which eight are used. The recipe is secret, he said.
“It took us a few years to get the recipe down but now we pretty well stick to it,” said Ashley. “We have some varieties we grow that we don’t use in our cider, we just don’t think that it adds to the cider.”
Ashley’s cider booth wasn’t the only vendor at the market which would appeal to those in a Christmas-oriented mindset.
Throughout the market, several booths sported holiday-themed decorations. Others advertised items as stocking stuffers.
However, the holidays definitely cater to certain vendors, as in Ashley’s case and for New Glasgow's Larkin Bros., the largest turkey producers on P.E.I.
Paul Larkin said the holidays are by far the busiest for the farm, which is now taking turkey orders by both phone and through a newly-launched website www.larkinbros.com.
All products are grain-fed, medication and antibiotic–free and do not contain animal bi-products in the feed.
“It tastes a lot different than commercially grown birds for sure,” said Larkin. “It’s just a better product that everyone should be eating.”