It began six years ago as a hobby between friends, and now SunnyCider is the first craft cidery in Alberta.
“I think we just have to bring back local business,” says SunnyCider co-founder Dennis Scanland. “If you’re shopping local, you bring it back to core values and helping each other out at a human level.”
Scanland co-founded SunnyCider alongside “instrumental” friends Tim and Darlene Kitchen, inspired to take action against food waste. SunnyCider “rescues” apples, pears, and berries across Alberta and BC from going into the compost bin to instead be turned into house-made hard cider.
Scanland is a serial entrepreneur, having previously founded two urban farming initiatives – Dirt Boys and YYC Growers & Distributors – both of which take “homegrown” to another level, planting fruits and vegetables in inner-city Calgary backyards.
Shortly before starting what would become his third business, Scanland went through a business development training program at Thrive, where he learned new tools and techniques to scale up the social impact and financial gains of his social enterprise.
“Putting a microscopic focus on elements such as software, finance, budgeting, sales, and marketing was really helpful.”
Above all, having a supportive peer group of fellow entrepreneurs – something Scanland never had before – to lean on and learn from had the most intrinsic value for Scanland. “Being able to tap into people’s lived experiences and resources was great,” he says. “A real community sprouted out of the program.” He’s still in touch with some of his classmates to this day.
Education is extremely important to the SunnyCider team. As the only cider house in Western Canada, SunnyCider prides itself on spreading awareness on the history and production of cider, hosting regular tasting events, tours, and showcasing a rotating cast of other craft ciders. Scanland is also in the process of starting a Cider Association to unite and collaborate with fellow Albertan cider-makers.
“I love being able to meet new people and share our story and our ciders.”