At Saunders Farm, we like things fresh, which is why we're always thinking up amazing experiences for everyone to enjoy. We intend to make all Saunders Cider products that way. We hope you enjoy this new branch of the Saunders journey.
It's In Our Roots
In 1974, Mark’s love of farm life began when his parents, Bill and Anne Saunders, purchased a fixer-upper in Munster, ON. They planted strawberries, vegetables and an apple orchard and rediscovered their roots and love for agriculture.
The Saunders family knew in their core that this was to be their new way of life, so they purchased the land across the road (now Saunders Farm) and embarked on a mission to share their appreciation of the land with the people of Ottawa. It began with a Pick-Your-Own Strawberry field, with delicious and juicy fresh strawberries, and soon Bill and Anne elevated the flat and treeless fields into a lush tree nursery.
Home Is Where The Farm Is
The more they grew, the more they wanted to grow… not just as a farm but as a community. Bill and Anne harnessed their creativity and a new vision for the farm began to take root. They built beautifully-crafted mazes, becoming the largest collection of hedge mazes in the world, and created a name for themselves for their famous Haunting Season.
The Saunders family celebrated the beauty of the land with creativity and innovation, and Ottawans joined them in full force. They grew pumpkins, became part of Ottawa traditions and watched as what was once their little strawberry farm grew into a home for families to play, learn and grow together.
Bill and Anne passed the torch to Mark and Angela, who continue to develop and grow the farm to new heights as an agritourism attraction. While strawberries are no longer in production, the farm is now home to our Summer Season, Farm Camp Day Camp for kids, Weddings, Gatherings, Haunting Season, Frightfest and now, A Country Christmas.
The 30th anniversary of Haunting Season at Saunders Farm introduced the beginning of Saunders Cider.
Mark had been fermenting the idea of planting an apple orchard and starting a cidery for many years.
He shared his dream of an Estate Cidery on the farm with our team at our annual retreat in February 2021. “I know it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to start the company, and we have to plan, and plant an orchard, but it will be a whole new amazing experience for visitors to the Farm. We’re going to need everyone’s help,” enthused Mark Saunders. The team was juiced up! Fresh cider is on its way.
Be Careful What You Wish For
A few weeks later in early March, Mark learned that Flying Canoe Cider, Ottawa’s first hard cider company, was for sale. It felt too good to be true… But two weeks after a call with Pete Rainville, the owner of the company, a letter of intent was signed and Saunders Cider was born.
“Be careful of what you wish for,” Mark said with a wink.
It seems the pandemic had sharpened Mark’s manifestation skills, as just 5 weeks after announcing to his team that he wanted to start a Cider Company, he was in the business.
As Mark and Angela jumped feet first into the apple barrel, the team joined them too.Greg Longpre, the farm’s Operations Manager, and Mark took Cornell University’s cider-making class together. They learned how to craft fresh and delicious hard cider, with simple ingredients. They passed the course with flying colours, the cider-making gear arrived here at the farm, and the cider started to flow. Greg became the official Saunders Cider Maker. Now all they needed was someone with a big personality, someone known in the industry who could create great connections with local restaurants around Ottawa… enter Jeff O’Reilly. The previous GM of Darcy McGee’s, Jeff was the perfect fit to bridge the gap between the farm and the cider/alcohol industry.