Looking back on how Section 35 Farm Distillery came to be, owner Kevin Lefsrud admits he did not see entering the liquor business in his career path. Prior to the business, Kevin had two interests: farming and football. Kevin graduated with an Agriculture Diploma from the University of Saskatchewan and also played football during his time at school. Upon graduation, he played on the Offensive Line for the Montreal Alouettes for 3 seasons and then for the Edmonton Eskimos for 4 seasons – still farming the land during the off-season. After winning 3 Grey Cups, Kevin retired from football in 2007 and returned home to farm due to obtaining two concussions in a five-week span. His wife, Kyla, was very concerned about him and pushed him to find a lifestyle that kept his mind occupied but didn't overstress it. Kevin and Kyla began to think of things unique to them, brainstorming over breakfasts at the farm where they would have toast with honey made from their neighbors when they found it. Kyla went out and bought Kevin a still and he started making alcohol from honey. Soon Kevin realized he must be making something people really enjoy since lots of people liked it, including the local RCMP. So when the RCMP asked to buy it, Kevin knew it was time to make a legal business out of their liquor.
What makes Section 35 Farm Distillery stand out is that honey is used as the primary fermentation source. Making honey alcohol is unique all on its own, but combining that with Kevin's agricultural knowledge allows him to add in any other grains he wants. Most distilleries are based in cities, and Section 35 is one of few based on a family farm in rural Alberta. The distillery is run on a family farm that has been in operation continuously for over 116 years. Kevin felt it just made sense to place the distillery on the farm where the roots run deep. Kevin recognizes the importance of family, and he feels grateful that he is able to operate Section 35 on the farm and with his family. He is very proud that he is in business with his sister, Lynette. She joined the business last year and it has made a big difference in having her perspective as part of the business.
Learning is a big part of Section 35. The learning curve of how to make alcohol was a noteworthy struggle for the business. There are always things to learn about alcohol and Kevin enjoys learning more every day. Figuring out how to ferment and distill honey is a challenge but is also a great feeling when he gets it right. Section 35 may not have become what is it without the unfortunate concussions in Kevin's football career. With that, Section 35 plans to roll out a product called concussion, which will be a spiced rum and will be Kevin's salute to anyone who has suffered a concussion.