PhD Candidate Anelyse Weiler's research on craft cider and artisan farmers in National Post

July 17, 2019 by Sherri Klassen

The National Post recently reported on Anelyse Weiler's dissertation research as part of a series reporting on "some of the most interesting" research presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in early June. Anelyse is currently a doctoral candidate in sociology, completing her dissertation, The Periphery in the Core: Investigating Migration, Agrarian Citizenship and Metabolic Rift Through a Case Study of the Apple.

We have included an excerpt of the National Post article below. The full article is available online here.

Craft cider renaissance driven by ‘artisans’ who escaped the knowledge economy

In her dissertation, researcher Anelyse Weiler says Canada's craft cider industry could save small apple orchards and attract new farmers from urban areas

...Weiler, whose work primarily focuses on labour, immigration and ecologically sustainable food systems, spoke to 100 people from all aspects of the craft cider industry in the Pacific Northwest — around British Columbia, Oregon and Washington — and compiled the information into an extensive look at the craft cider industry in the area. She picked the cider industry because she thought it was a good microcosm to look at broader trends in the agriculture industry.

Weiler said apple farmers face a slew of challenges in their industry — like the toll of the physical labour on their bodies, the increasing consolidation of apple production companies into huge conglomerates, and the effects of climate change on their crops. Moving into cider production can help farmers maintain their rural lifestyle instead of getting out of it altogether.

Nielsen’s numbers show that cider sales peaked in the U.S. in 2015 at $548 million and have since hit a plateau. But Weiler says the interest in more regional varieties marketed to locals continues to rise.

“A lot of producers face this ultimatum: get big, get out or get niche,” Weiler said. “And craft cider industries are one way for people to get niche.”

While it does seem profitable, the idea of working on a farm doesn’t seem to be of interest to most young workers. According to Statistics Canada, the average age of the Canadian farmer is 55 and Weiler said it seems that will continue to rise.

However, Weiler found that craft cider producers were moving away from being labelled as “farmers” and instead preferred the more high-status label, “artisans”. The change places more of an onus on crafting a unique product and being part of a close community, effectively creating meaningful symbolism to the same work. She said some young workers are actually moving away from urban cities to join the industry...

Read the full article.