Maple syrup making
One of the best parts of being a local journalist is being able to go behind the scenes with my camera and my reporter’s notebook to grab interviews and photos and paint a picture for the local community of area ongoings.
Today, I had the chance to take part in the Shepherd Maple Syrup Pre-Festival, and tour the Shepherd Sugar Bush Corp. while the facility was in action, learning about the maple syrup making process.
The maple syrup industry is huge in Shepherd, and the coolest part? The entire company is all managed by volunteers. Those volunteers spent Saturday walking local residents (and a few out-of-towners) through the facility and the syrup-making process, from sap collection to bottling. There were treats on hand, like maple candies, maple-flavored ice cream and whoopie pies, and – of course – pancakes with maple syrup. Volunteers explained how sap collection buckets work and how the sap is turned into syrup.
Once temperatures warm up, maple trees start turning starch into sugar. The sugar, when mixed with ground water, turns into an almost crystal-clear sap. The sap is drained from trees, using a spout and pail, and then boiled down. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. During the condensation process, sweet sugary steam clouds the facility. It smelled like I was in a real-life version of
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Randi and the Maple Syrup Factory.
Shepherd holds a three-day maple syrup festival every April, but the facility is shut down to accommodate the tours. Obviously, boiling sap means equipment gets hot, and allowing thousands of people near the working equipment poses a huge health and safety risk. The pre-festival is a little smaller, and gives curious locals (and those willing to make the drive) a chance to see everything while it’s in action.
Here are a few of my favorite detail photos (I’m absolutely loving my new 50mm lens!) and if you’re interested, the entire gallery I shot for the paper can be accessed right here.
I also wrote a full story about the event if you’re interested in reading.
My friend Kathryn also recently posted about her sugar bush experience! Apparently touring these facilities is a lot more common than I thought, which begs the question- have you ever toured maple syrup facilities? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments!