Not your average sugar time

Whether you like it on your pancakes or in your recipes, maple syrup probably has a special place in your heart. The sugar from our forests results from the hard work of producers who do double duty and more when it comes time to harvest and boil maple sap.

Sugar time 2020, marked by a health crisis and containment measures, brought its share of challenges to maple producers. Sugar shacks that serve meals have had to close their doors, resulting in significant financial losses as the maples, for their part, just keep that sap running.

In the Outaouais-Laurentides region alone, the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) reckons there are 171 maple businesses, for a total of 1.7 million taps. To encourage everyone to “buy local”, we present here two Laurentian maple operations that process maple sap into sweet products, which will be available to you as soon as good weather and “normal life” returns.

Érablière du Berger in Mont-Tremblant

Since 2004, Claudia Legault and Marcel Giroux have appreciated the quality of life they have thanks to semi-retirement as they alone deal with the 10,000 taps of their maple forest.

Part of their maple syrup production is sold to the Fédération des producteurs et productrices acéricoles du Québec, as per their quota. The remainder of the syrup is processed on-site into taffy, butter, caramel, candies, pies and other sweet treats sold directly to individuals.

Their shop, located at 1401 chemin Thomas-Robert in Lac-Tremblant-Nord, is normally open to the public year round. Before you make the trip, however, it’s probably a good idea to call them at 819 421-4796, particularly in summer when they like to take advantage of their beautiful natural surroundings.
erabliereduberger.com

Érablière Varin in Oka

This maple operation, with 30,000 taps, has been operated by the Varin family since 1919. The current owners, Nicole and Harold, are preparing to turn the businesss over to the 4th generation: their daughter Geneviève Varin.

Maple syrup and processed products, all certified organic, are sold in public markets, in the farm shop, in a few grocery stores and at some festivals. In normal times the maple operation is open to the public during sugar time, but 2020 will be the exception.

In summer, the Varin family grows organic fruits and vegetables on their land. Verger Varin is much appreciated at the Val David summer market as its stand carries raspberries, blueberries, apples, pears, plums and maple products.
varin.ca/boutique

Organic syrup or not

Organic certification aims to reassure the buying public that healthy practices are followed which respect the environment, minimize soil erosion, reduce pollution and support biological diversity.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the methods required to produce organic maple syrup: a limited choice of cleaning and fertilizing products, food-grade equipment, a maximum of three taps per tree (depending on the diameter), conservation of companion species, banning of rodent poisons, and traceability of every stage of production and processing.

Let’s wind this up by underlining the exceptional work done by maple syrup producers, whether their syrup is certified organic or not. Because of their love of the forest, many of them adopt ecologically sound methods that go beyond the minimal standard required by the Fédération. So thank you to all those who work the bush sustainably and provide high quality Québec maple products.

 

More from this author by clicking on her picture below.

Geneviève Huchette

 

Geneviève Huchette51 Posts

Geneviève Huchette a grandi à Montréal et a complété un baccalauréat en agronomie à McGill. Après ses études et quelques voyages, elle a atterri à Mont-Tremblant en 2008, d'abord pour un emploi sur une ferme biologique. Alors qu'elle continue de jardiner pour le plaisir, Geneviève travaille actuellement dans les domaines du yoga, de la vente au détail et de la rédaction. Dans ses temps libres, elle adore les sports en montagne, les jeux de société et jouer de la musique. Geneviève Huchette grew up in Montreal and completed a bachelor degree in Environmental and Agricultural Sciences at McGill University. After years of studying and travelling, she landed in Mont Tremblant in 2008, first to work on an organic farm. Although she still enjoys gardening for fun, Genevieve presently works in various domains: yoga, retail and writing. In her leisure time, she likes mountain sports, board games and playing music.

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