On this #farmerfridays, we are excited to feature the great work Matt Hollenbeck and his team are doing in keeping family traditions strong at Hollenbeck's Cider Mill. (When you get to talk about local donuts, apple cider, and pie (mmmm, PIE!), you know it's going to be a good start to the weekend!)
SVHC: How long have you been producing your delicious goods in Cortland County for?
HCM: Hollenbeck's Cider Mill has been pressing cider in Virgil since 1933. Throughout the years we've added donuts, the store, and finally, the bakery, to be the Hollenbeck's you know it today. I bought the business from my cousin in November 2016, after having worked for him for a number of years.
SVHC: Being a local food producer isn't the easiest job around--what makes making donuts and pressing apples something you look forward to each day?
HCM: I've done many different jobs throughout my life, which has allowed me to identify the things I need in my work and life to find satisfaction. The Cider Mill provides the two most important in abundance: manual labor and social interaction. By making value-added products every day I'm given the opportunity to create something every single day of the season, be it pies, bread, donuts, or cider (or more realistically some of each). Being a long-standing community tradition leads to the Mill being a community space and asset. Every year we get to be a part of individual, family, and community traditions. We get to share in the growth of our community and connections between family members, neighbors, and generations. In short, this lifestyle affords me regular satisfying physical exertion and the opportunity to help grow our community.
SVHC: What are the goods that Hollenbeck's makes exactly?
HCM: We produce value-added products, cider, donuts, and scratch baked pies in our main season, and a growing collection of other baked goods during the slower portion of our season.
SVHC: What has been your biggest joy as a local producer?
HCM: The greatest joy for me, is being part of other families annual traditions. Hearing from people that it isn't Thanksgiving for their family without our pie, from Cortland expats that always visit us on any trip back, or seeing three generations of a family together watching me press cider. I've had all those experiences and feelings throughout my life, and it's an awesome feeling to be able to provide that to others.
SVHC: What has been your greatest challenge as a local producer in Cortland County?
HCM: The greatest challenge for me in a business that is extremely seasonally variable in its needs is finding, training, keeping, and providing a living wage for employees.
SVHC: If you could tell your community one thing, what would it be?
HCM: We're open more than they think. Despite having been open through the end of February for decades, we get people that stop in and say "I'm so glad you're open, I thought you closed after Thanksgiving."
SVHC: How can the community purchase your goods or connect with you?
HCM: You can only get our products by stopping by the Mill. Cider season runs from mid-September through the end of February/early March. This year we'll be opening on the weekends during the summer and hosting the Virgil Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings! You can find more out and contact us at our website