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

Oliver Fire Department. (Submitted photo)
More human caused fires in Oliver

Firefighters have been kept busy putting out several potentional wildfires

Old English design elements can be seen in the sign of the Summerland Farm and Garden Centre in 1993. The guidelines are no longer in place, but some downtown businesses still show aspects of the days when Summerland had a theme in place. This photo was taken by Summerland photographer Dan Dorotich. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Summerland’s Old English theme has been abandoned

From the 1980s until the early 2000s, Summerland had design guidelines in its downtown

Penticton bylaw officers tore down a “pretty significantly sized” homeless camp underneath the bridge near Riverside Drive Friday, April 16 morning. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton bylaw tears down ‘significantly sized’ homeless camp under bridge

Many residents had made complaints about the camp before it was torn down

Through their Simple Generosity campaign, Valley First has pledged to donate $1 million of community support to British Columbia communities in 2021. (Contributed)
Valley First rewarding Penticton families with innovative way to thrive together

Participants with ‘inspiring ideas’ will receive a surprise for their family, valued at up to $2,500

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a quick roundup of the stories that made headlines across the Okanagan, from April 11 to 16

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

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) climate change event in 2019 saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. Black Press File Photo
‘In grief for our dying world’: B.C. climate activists embark on 4-day protest

demonstrators will walk through Vancouver for the first two days before boarding a ferry Sunday morning

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

Thw male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

Valen a student of Coldstream Elementary writes advice for adults amid a pandemic.
‘We can get rid of COVID together’: B.C. kids share heartwarming advice

Elementary students share their wisdom to adults in unprecedented times

Mervin Mascarenhas giving one of his pens to Honorary JP-MP. Premier David Burt of Bermuda. (Image: Mervin Mascarenhas)
Kelowna man who made $90K ‘Space Pen’ recognized by dignitaries, sheikhs

Mervin Mascarenhas is the first Canadian to grace the cover of Millennium Millionaire Magazine

The funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip in Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip laid to rest Saturday as sombre queen sits alone

The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of Windsor Castle

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. health minister says delay in Moderna vaccine ‘disappointing’

‘The sooner we get vaccines in people’s arms the better, and inconsistency in delivery is a consistent problem. This is simply a reality and not an issue of blame,’ Adrian Dix said Friday

(Police handout/Kamloops RCMP)
B.C. man dies in custody awaiting trial for Valentine’s Day robbery, kidnapping spree

Robert James Rennie, who was on the Kamloops RCMP’s most wanted list, passed away at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Coquitlam

Most Read