How sweet it is as sap begins to run and tapping begins
by Sandy Lindsay

February 20, 2017


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The Sugar House

Inside the Sugar House
... a winch system lifts the entire stainless steel top for cleaning and maintenance of the vat

Under blue skies and sunshine, the first OMSPA Grey Bruce maple syrup tapping took place at Westwood Winds south of Walkerton on Saturday (Feb.18) thanks to Jim and Donna Fischer, who opened their home to several people, including local politicians, who had come out for the first tapping.  

Nick Bereznick, President

Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association (OMSPA) Grey Bruce Chapter

Nick Bereznick, President of the local OMSPA chapter said that, "This is a great way to herald the coming of the maple syrup season. Many people do not realize that Ontario is the second largest producer of maple syrup in the country (next to Quebec), producing approximately one million litres of the sweet stuff per year. Indeed, Canada produces 71% of the world’s market (approximately 68 million pounds), 91% of which is produced in Quebec."

He also said that, "2017 will be a busy year for our association with the hosting of the 2017 OMSPA Summer Tour in our area and the designing and manning of a Maple Syrup display booth at this year’s International Plowing Match in Walton.

From the main house, the visitors enjoyed a leisurely stroll in the bright sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures to the Sugar House.

The Fischers only recently began producing maple syrup in earnest.  For many years they were dairy farmers and Jim Owen is also a semi-retired teacher.  Today, they tap more than 500 trees on the land that once belonged to Donna Fischer's grandfather Herb Meyer.

"We actually started doing this as 'down-time' from our dairy operation but three years ago began producing in earnest. Then, a year or so ago, we built this system and began producing maple syrup on a serious level."

Jim Fischer in front of the stainless steel system that he designed

Fischer went on to explain that the entire 'Sugar House' was constructed from recycled materials.  "The wood is from trees on the farm and the windows are from the old dairy barn."

On the walls are photos of family and special momentos over the more than 100 years that the farm has been in the family .  "We want this to be a fun family place," says Jim Fischer. "We are also looking at perhaps having school groups in so that it has an educational component as well."

West-Grey Mayor, Kevin Eccles (L) and Huron-Bruce MP Ben Lobb (R) give a close look at the boiling system

Jim Fischer (C) explains his system

Click the orange arrow to read the second column

MP Larry Miller (Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound) does the first tapping with advice from Bruce County Warden Mitch Twolan (L), MP Ben Lobb (C) and West-Grey Mayor Kevin Eccles (R) lending support

Kevin Eccles (L) and Mitch Twolan install the spigot ...

... and Eccles hangs the first pail

Then, it was MP Ben Lobb's turn ...

... and Warden Mitch Twolan hangs the pail

The sap was running freely

The Fischers also operate their home as a B&B.  "We are very busy in the summer," says Donna Fischer, "and this is the first winter we haven't had snowmobilers stay with us given the strange weather we've had.  With more than 100 acres, our guests are able to have a real 'nature' experience."

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Monday, February 20, 2017