SEVERN TOWNSHIP, ONT.
After just four years of producing a Sunday morning table topper, the Beers family turned Maple Grove Syrup in Severn Township into one of the region’s largest maple syrup producers.
In 2012, Brent and his wife Amy bought their home located on 50 acres of land on a whim, taking a gamble on the unknown.
“An elderly man had owned it, and it was literally walk in off the road and asked the gentleman if he wanted to sell,” said Brent.
“We knew it was kind of a sugar bush, and we could see the old sugar camp from the road but didn’t really know how many acres it actually had or how good a sugar bush it was,” he added.
It took five years for the Beers to fully tap the land to its full potential, starting with 35 taps and buckets and growing it to more than 1,100, all while making about 2,000 litres of syrup annually.
Brent said they first started boiling sap after a neighbour had stopped by and mentioned syrup hadn’t been made at that camp since the 1980s.
“We were quite honoured to kind of have that going again and thought that was kind of something special,” he said. ” To have that happening again in this bush to liven it up again, bring it back to life.”
RECOVERING FROM A DISAPPOINTING SEASON
The family is looking to continue bringing the camp to life.
While tapping trees and making syrup, the Beers would occasionally host group tours at the sugar bush, giving syrup lovers a look behind the scenes.
But last year’s mild winter and spring temperatures resulted in a disappointing season.
“Probably the worst season we’ve experienced so far,” said Amy. “We found that the temperature didn’t cooperate with us; it wasn’t fluctuating the way we needed to see it.”
When they tested the sap for its sugar content, they found it only had half of what they were expecting, pushing the couple to make alternative products along with syrup with what sugar they had, including candies and butter.
The sugar content was just half of the couple’s problems with activity reduction on the farm with the pandemic.
“Because of COVID and the way things have been the last couple of years, OMSPA normally hosts an event in the spring called maple weekend, and that’s been cancelled for the last two years,” said Amy.
At the same time, guests hoping to get an up-close glimpse at the syrup making would have to watch the process from a distance through a window outside the sugar camp.
With the fall colours upon us, the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association (OMSPA) hopes to get people to ‘Fall in love with Maple‘ all over again and bring them back to the Sugar Bushes across the province.
“This is really the first organized event that we’ve been able to do in two years,” noted Amy.
“It’s brand new, it’s completely different seasons, so we’re not actively making maple syrup, but we do have the walking tours, the bush and the pipeline, and you can kinda see what the setup is before the season.”
Fall In Love With Maple¬†runs from Sept. 25 until Oct. 3.