A Day at Salmon River Sugar Bush

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My name is Cole Youmans and I’m a St. Lawrence College student on a full time placement with Naturally L&A until mid-April. I aim to promote local businesses during my time here. The timing of my first blog post works perfectly with the start of maple syrup season, something I happen to know quite a bit about.

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As we find ourselves in the midst of another maple syrup season, producers throughout Lennox & Addington are ramping up their operations for the busy year ahead. One of these local producers is Salmon River Sugar Bush. Owned and operated by Mark and Amanda Youmans – my mom & dad – they’ve been producing maple syrup on their farm since 2014. They’re currently up to 2,000 taps on their 20-acre sugar bush, some of which I help tap every year.

Mark, who’s also the OMSPA provincial director, walked me through the average day of a maple syrup producer during their busiest time of year.

On an average day during syrup season Mark wakes up, heads outside, and starts cleaning his main tanks before the sap starts flowing too heavily. He’ll then head out to the sugar bush at about 7am, de-ice his extractor and turn on the vacuum pump so that sap can be transferred to the main tank. As he waits for the sap collect in his tank, Mark checks the lines for any damage that could have been caused the night before by animals or weather.

While managing the vacuum system is a lot of work, Mark says that they switched to vacuum lines from buckets 5 years ago as they typically result in a higher yield, and allow sap to be transferred more efficiently to and from the holding tanks.

Once enough sap has been collected, Mark starts to boil sometime around midday. During this time of year Salmon River Sugar Bush can produce as much as 400 litres of maple syrup in a day. This process is made more efficient by the reverse osmosis system they’ve implemented, which greatly reduces the amount of energy required to turn sap into syrup. This is important because the boiling process typically continues late into the night or even into the early morning.

When the syrup is finally 100% finished, Mark starts turning it into a wide variety of specialty maple products ranging from maple cotton candy to maple garlic seasoning.

The businesses plans for the future include offering visitors horse drawn carriage tours, pancake breakfasts, and hosting events on the farm. Be sure to stop by and see Mark, Amanda, or I at the road-side stand at 180 Gilmore Road in Tamworth to fill up on pure Canadian maple syrup, or to try out one of the many unique maple creations on offer. Additionally, stay tuned in to Salmon River Sugar Bush’s Facebook and Instagram pages for news on any upcoming events that they’ll be hosting or attending.

Looking for details about more local maple syrup producers? Check out Naturally L&A’s Farm Experiences page to learn more about other maple producers and agri-tourism opportunities here in Lennox & Addington.

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