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

Brian Combes after getting keys to his new house on April 9, 2021. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Homeless no more on Skwah First Nation after 20 years

Brian Combes gets the keys to his newly built home near Chilliwack

Future Finlandia Lion Ian Heagy with his biggest fan, mom Jen Heagy. (submitted photo)
Chilliwack hockey player Ian Heagy defies the odds to land at Finlandia

Having never played a minute of rep, Heagy is making the jump from house to NCAA Div 2 hockey

The Abbotsford Centre has the ability to host AHL level games if the Vancouver Canucks or any other NHL team chose to move its affiliate to the arena. (File photo)
Abbotsford Centre ready for AHL if right opportunity presents itself

Building recently upgraded glass and boards, schedule would allow for AHL tenant

In 2012, police in Abbotsford placed surveillance cameras near the Dhaliwal home in the 2500 block of Bradner Road after there were two drive-by shootings in the area. Harb Dhaliwal, 31, has now been identified as the victim of a fatal shooting April 17 in Vancouver. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Abbotsford man named as victim of fatal weekend shooting in Vancouver

Harpreet Dhaliwal, 31, killed outside of Cardero’s restaurant in Coal Harbour

Joudelie King wants to get out and live life to the fullest, but there are places she can’t go because they don’t meet her accessibility needs. (submitted photo)
New online tool provides accessibility map for people with disabilities

The myCommunity BC map provides accessibility info for nearly 1,000 locations in the province

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

A man has died after being shot at Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park the evening of Monday, April 19. (Twitter/IHIT)
1 man dead after shooting at Coquitlam park: IHIT

The gunman is still at large, according to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team

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

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Most Read