PORTLAND, Ore – June 7, 2021
As the strangest, and possibly most challenging school year ever comes to a close, Jen and Travis Lovejoy of Peak Light Cider celebrate parents with their new, small batch release, Farm School Cider. Crafted from Peak Light’s 2020 harvest of traditional bittersweet and bittersharp apples, Farm School Cider released first to Peak Light’s Cider Circle (a cidery specific membership offering special quarterly cider installments and other member-only perks) and is now available online, at Portland area Farmers Markets and in select retail locations.
The Sauvie Island farming couple navigated the wilds of opening a new, artisanal Oregon cidery in summer of 2020, while balancing the farm, day jobs and raising three children. Just as they dug deep five years before, with passion and grit, to make their life-on-the-land dreams come true, these former college sweethearts stretched again. When a seasonal return to school never happened, they decided to do things differently, taking a chance and going all in with dear friends. Two families came together to create a co-living experience of shared expenses, farming, parenting, and schooling duties.
Late one night, after dishes were done, the two couples were standing around tackling various topics on each other’s minds. They were folding laundry, working through some tough co-parenting moments, and tasting the latest batch of limited release Peak Light cider, in an effort to name it. “We were tired, we were happy, we were overwhelmed, we were stressed, we were in a moment in time that none of us and none of our direct ancestors had ever dealt with,” said Jen Lovejoy. “We were all learning together one day at a time,” she continued. Hence, with a nod to the tough and beautiful shared experience of the moment, “Farm School” at Peak Light was named.
Throughout the year, both children and parents found opportunities to learn in the natural world. Kids slept in trailers borrowed from grandparents in the driveway, a bedroom was freed up to become a schoolroom for the five kids, and there were Sunday farm family meetings that each kid took turns leading as well as weekly rotating chores. Each day a different parent was “on” and new routines were added to integrate farm life into at-home school. A farm family favorite was a new daily expectation called “movement math” as a way to involve school-age children in the farm operation during the work day.
The Lovejoys found this moment rich with intention and takeaways. As devoted parents, they uncovered blessings in precious family time together, though entangled with the incredible stress of how to keep it all going amid concerns for health, safety and stability. This time was in a word, bittersweet.
A beautiful collection of bittersweet apples are emblematic of this moment– first pressed, then fermented, matured, hand-bottled and finally debuting as a special, small-batch cider. Peak Light Farm School Cider is made from Oregon fruit, mostly European varietal bittersweet apples (such as Yarlington Mill, Vilberie, and Muscadet de Dieppe), with some blended bittersharps. Bittersweets, one of four classes of apples, are sought out for cidermaking due to their higher tannin, lower acid composition. Bittersweet apples offer structure and roundness; they give Farm School Cider a sturdy, familiar, earthy profile and a rich, amber color.
This batch (just over 300 gallons), of Farm School Cider was hand-bottled by Travis Lovejoy, capped and finished in 750ml (wine sized) bottles in a labor intensive dance, lasting three full eight-hour days. Hand harvesting, hand bottling and farming using biodynamic principles are practices reminiscent of a time when life moved slower. The Lovejoys are committed to bringing this slow food nourishment to modern life. They embody and celebrate farm to table essence, crafting Peak Light Ciders with intentionality and care.
The full Peak Light Cider line-up, including Farm School, is available at www.peaklightcider.com, at Portland area Hollywood and PSU Farmers Markets. Peak Light is proud to be carried by independent retail partners across Oregon and plans to release two additional small batch, limited release offerings later in the year.