An interior view of the Sea CiderFarm and Ciderhouse's new Pavilion, designed by Cascadia Architects.  Don Denton photo

Light Filled Sea Cider Pavilion

New permanent event building unveiled

  • Mar. 19, 2021 7:30 a.m.

– Story by Devon Paige Smith Photography by Don Denton

For many years, the tent at Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse was the setting for some of the Saanich Peninsula’s most beautiful gatherings and events. Eight months of the year, the light and airy tent set the stage for weddings, anniversaries and galas, and many of Sea Cider’s own signature events.

But eventually, founder, owner and general manager of Sea Cider, Kristen Needham, through consultation with the Municipality of Central Saanich, decided it was time to upgrade to something more permanent.

“That was in about 2015 or 2016, and it’s taken us around five, six years to get to where we are now, which is this,” says Kristen, motioning around the beautiful, bright new space.

In order to prepare for the build, Sea Cider needed approval from the Agricultural Land Commission, along with all the other consultations, permits and licensing that come with creating an event-centric space in a rural area.

“It’s a good thing that both farming and making cider teach you patience,” she laughs.

Fortunately, Kristen came equipped with an inspiration in the form of the well-known and beloved tent. She also wanted something that would sit as a sort of modernized sibling to the main cider house.

“That’s what we went to the architects with as a rough idea—and they really took it from there,” she explains.

Those architects are Gregory Damant and Peter Johannknecht from Cascadia Architects.

“It was a pleasure working with their team,” says Kristen. “Their design sense is outstanding and they’re very attuned to their clients’ needs and visions.”

“We started with a site-planning process to make sure it would fit where Kristen was envisioning it,” explains Gregory. “That took a few months and I’ll admit, we almost got off track because of all the possibilities the land offers,” he laughs, adding, “Kristen is incredibly resourceful. She’s very nice to work with, and she came equipped with her own ideas but was more than willing to work together. This project was very much a collaboration with her, as well as her staff who run the events, to make sure we were creating the space in a way which would be useful for them.”

The team was able to determine through some careful planning that the site of the original tent would work and could be accommodated through fireproofing the walls to ensure it adhered to coding due to its proximity to the main cider house.

Aside from the location, one of the main aspects of the tent that both Kristen and the architects wanted to capture was the feeling of light and warmth in the space.

Although the resulting pavilion has lots of natural light and is painted bright white (including the trusses in the ceiling) the team wanted there to be a feeling of warmth. Cascadia’s team, which included Andy Guiry and Nicole Fitzgerald, worked with Jeff Halpenny of AES Engineering to create 3D renderings of the space and the proposed lighting plan to make sure it looked the way they wanted it to.

“This whole idea goes back to the roof of the tent,” Gregory explains. “We wanted to give it that same sense of glowing, which was a big part of the character of that tent space. I’m so glad we were able to capture that ethereal feeling.”

The new pavilion is 2,800 square feet total including front and back of house and upstairs and down, which is storage space.

“We really wanted to keep the service spaces collected in the back, neatly tucked away, to really define that sense of front of house versus back of house,” explains Gregory.

All the ducting for the state-of-the-art ventilation system is hidden, highlighting the clean, angular lines in the trussed roof—one of Kristen’s favourite parts of the space.

“Most people think it’s the dramatic water view at the front that’s the best part, but my favourite aspect is the view looking back through the pavilion towards the west. You can see the sun set through the back windows and I love looking up through the roof trusses. It has that rustic farmhouse feeling which I love so much,” she says, smiling.

The new building is as functional as it is beautiful, Kristen adds. “We stepped up cider production through the COVID-19 pandemic, and the basement of the pavilion has been a key storage area for all of our inventory,” she says.

The ink was drying on the occupancy permit for the pavilion when COVID-19 hit.

“It was kind of a godsend in a strange way,” says Kristen. “People were looking for safe space and we had it. If we hadn’t had the pavilion over the spring, summer and fall, it would have been rough.”

A state-of-the-art HVAC system, big sliding windows at the front of the space that open, and a common outdoor courtyard shared with the main cider house mean Sea Cider has been able to continue to host safe, physically distanced classes.

Through winter and spring, there are low-intensity yoga classes twice a week, along with workshops, a brunch series, and elopements. Starting after Easter, Foodie Friday with food trucks will kick off providing COVID-19 restrictions allow.

“We’ve been able to use the pavilion in a bunch of different ways—ways that we’d never considered but have come about because of COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions. Our entrepreneurial spirit, like that of many businesses through COVID-19, has risen to the challenge,” says Kristen. “We’ve spent a lot of time collaborating with small businesses on the Peninsula—that’s been one of the keys to making it through these exceptional times. It helps to bounce ideas off each other.”

And with bookings set through to 2023, Sea Cider is poised to take the stage once again as one of the Peninsula’s premier event settings once things return to some semblance of normal.

“We’re so looking forward to moving ahead with our original plans for the space as well when the time is right. I can’t wait for the day when the pavilion is buzzing with tours seven days a week. After over five years in the making, lots of planning, hoping and sweat equity, and then a tough couple of seasons with COVID-19, it will be a dream come true.”

This story was originally published in PEARL magazine

CiderFoodFood and Drinktravel

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Chilliwack Search and Rescue truck heads down Vedder Road towards Cultus Lake to assist a dirtbiker with a broken leg. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Emergency crews, SAR busy with three separate outdoor recreation incidents in Chilliwack area

Calls in 1 afternoon include ATV collision, parachuter who fell from tree, dirtbiker with broken leg

Chilliwack’s historic Royal Hotel is offering COVID-style wedding packages for two weeks in June. (Facebook/ Royal Hotel Chilliwack)
Chilliwack hotel offers pop-up, COVID-style weddings for 2 weeks this June

‘Weddings can still happen, albeit in a different fashion,’ says Laura Reid of Royal Hotel

Nick Warmerdam and his dog Diesel are inviting locals to check out the Lakeland Farm U-pick Flower Farm this spring. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
VIDEO & SLIDESHOW: Abbotsford’s Lakeland Flowers opens for spring

Tulip farm attraction opened on April 14, open to the public daily seven days a week

A man holds a child while speaking with RCMP following an erratic driving incident on Highway 1 in Chilliwack on Friday, April 16, 2021. The child and a woman (but not this man) were in this Jeep Grand Cherokee which hit a barrier and a parked car on Highway 1 and continued driving. The vehicle finally exited the highway at Yale Road West and came to a stop. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Video captures woman driving erratically with child after hitting barrier, car on Hwy 1 in Chilliwack

Smoke seen coming from SUV as it continues to travel eastbound of shoulder of highway

Video image
UPDATE: Bridge traffic moving normally after high-velocity crash involving logging truck

Northbound crash occurred at approximately 2 p.m., involves 6 vehicles, north lanes shut down

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read