Sam & Janet McLean
McLean Berry Farm and Buckhorn Maplefest
The Sap Runs...
He says "yes, the traditional way seems to still be going strong for smaller sugar bushes, some even smaller than his. The modern way takes longer in preparation for the season. The modern way of running lines from tree to tree, can take 2 to 3 weeks to set the pipelines up, but these bushes produce hundreds of thousands of loads of sap that are piped directly through the lines into tanks that are shipped on trucks directly to the factories for production. These much larger scale bushes are also much more financially economical." Sam and his team do not take that long to set up for the tapping and hanging the buckets. The labour comes when the collecting starts. Their season usually starts early March and runs through to mid April. The McLean Sugar Bush usually has three people running the buckets during the day while one person boils the sap. They work from 3 to 5 hours each day collection the sap. For every hour, they collect approximately 100 galloons, and sometimes collect 600-800 galloons during a 6-8 hour day. Sam tells THE INSIDE SCOOP that the costs of the maple syrup (and the amazing other maple products including maple butter), vary depending on various factors. They do have their fixed costs, of course (equipment, buildings, etc.), but other costs do fluctuate, such as the fuel to run the tractors. The McLean Sugar Bush uses wood to produce the heat, and that takes time to cut and then there is the actual cost of the wood. The wood is prepared a year in advance in order for it to dry properly. Then there are other costs, such as packaging, retail costs and the wages of employees. Speaking of employees, I was surprised by Sam’s answer when I asked him if his festival was “fueled” by volunteers. His reply was that they had tried running the festival with volunteers in the past “but it did not work out”. The McLean’s family hires about 20 people just for the festival. It is imperative that they have full staff to run this event. The Lion’s Club, who operate the pancake breakfast, has its own volunteers and their profits go directly into their funds used for the community and their projects. You can find Sam around the farm during the festival, mostly stoking the fire at the evaporator station.
(To be continued)