Experience the beginning of spring by getting out onto the land during Maple Weekend April 6-7.
Nine maple syrup producers in Simcoe County are among those across the province celebrating their first crop of the season with the fifth annual open house.
At Windlee Farms Maple Syrup in Midland, taps have been set in since Family Day — but winter’s grip has been holding sap frozen in the trees a month longer than last year.
“We’ve been waiting,” said Peter Lorriman, co-owner. “It’s like waiting for Christmas. You can feel it coming. That anticipation. It’s exciting,” said co-owner Anne Lorriman.
People should tour the operators on the weekend, because everyone’s setup is different and each producer is hosting special events, said Peter.
Windlee Farms is hosting wagon rides to the maple bush, where there will be an outdoor fire and hot chocolate. By the sugar shack there will be a chainsaw carver, birds of prey, maple taffy on snow, and the Mad Cravings restaurant is bringing maple-inspired food samples.
While Windlee is a craft producer, Williams Farm in Wyebridge and Shaw’s Maple Syrup Bus in Oro-Medonte are larger producers.
The Ellsmere family, owners of Steamy Kettle Sugar Bush in Craighurst, has been consistently producing syrup since the 1840s.
“There’s a lot of different sizes of operations and different ways things are done,” said Peter. “You get to see how maple syrup is produced and to know the farmer.”
Peter said that more and more people are getting interested in how maple syrup is made, and want to support their local producer rather than buy off the grocery store shelf.
Maple syrup and maple products will be for sale at all the Maple Weekend producers’ farms; the open house is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.
Maple syrup is an important crop for Ontario farmers worth millions of dollars, said Peter, who is also president of the Simcoe District Maple Syrup Producers’ Association and a board member on the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers’ Association.
It’s also a crop that can only be made in northeastern North America.