Why an Interview,,,

Over the years we have been able to meet and talk with some very interesting people. They have shared with us their knowledge and have provided us with a great deal of insight as to how and why festivals and events work and why they are so important to our communities and to the Province of Ontario. With this in mind, we decided that we wanted you to meet and hear from some of the wonderful people who work so hard to provide us all with such wonderful Ontario Festivals and Events! We are pleased and proud to present "THE INSIDE SCOOP"!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Interview with Sam McLean (Part One)

Sam & Janet McLean
McLean Berry Farm and Buckhorn Maplefest
Farm Owners/Entrepreneurs

It's Maple Sugar Time at the McLean Berry Farm!
This week's interview is with Mr. Sam McLean, owner/operator of the McLean Berry Farm. It is a family affair with Sam leading the way! The interview is timely because the Buckhorn Maplefest, held at the McLean Berry Farm, is just a few weeks away! This festival of maple syrup, pancakes, hayrides and demonstrations takes place over three fun-filled weekends! You can find out more about this event at http://www.mcleanberryfarm.com/maple.html.

Sam McLean is a leader and expert, especially when it comes to one of my favorite times of year, Maple Sugar Time! Sam has owned the McLean Sugar Bush, in the Buckhorn area just north of Peterborough, since approximately January 1991. They were fortunate to continue with the existing set-up and began tapping right away. This is their 21st year and they will be celebrating the anniversary during the Buckhorn Maplefest. I am anxious to share with you a look behind the scenes with Sam, but first, I want to tell you a bit about Sam. Sam tells me that farming is a way of life, so I wondered what he did prior to owning the McLean Berry Farm. It wasn’t too much of a surprise when Sam told me he had been a cabinet maker for about 15 years prior to this adventure. He is still in familiar territory with all the surrounding Maple trees! Ironically, Sam’s favorite wood to work with for cabinet making is butternut. Getting back to THE INSIDE SCOOP, I wanted to know the correct name for this "quest for maple sugar". Sam tells me the simple version is the maple sugar "harvest". I had heard rumors that this year’s harvest was going to be good, so I asked Sam what he thought. He replies that he just doesn’t know yet, that it is too soon to tell. Part of what determines if it will be a good year collecting syrup depends on what happened last year. If it was a hot, warm summer you get good sap, the sugar stores well in the roots. Once the weather turns mild and gets above freezing it can start to run. Sam tells me that the ideal situation is below 6 degrees Celsius in the night and above 6 degrees during the days. Apparently, the diverse and changing temperatures, creates stress in the tree and forces the sap out. This is where Sam becomes the expert in this industry! He states that he knows his trees, saying that over the years you get to know them. You learn how it varies. They vary in sweetness depending of their size. Last year the McLean Sugar Bush yielded approximately 10,000 gallons of sap, 1,000 liters. The method of tree tapping used is the traditional tree tapping. I asked Sam if this process was a dying art.
(To be continued)

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