LANCASTER, Ontario – The Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association held their fourth annual Maple Weekend on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 7 and several sugar shacks in the United Counties of SD&G took part.
Participating local sugar producers included La Sucrerie à Frank Sugar Shack, in Moose Creek, Sand Road Maple Farm, also in Moose Creek, Barkleyvale Farms, Grampie’s Sugar Shack, On The Bend Sugar Shack, all in Chesterville, Peak Forest Farms in Willaimstown, Wightman Sugar Bush in Lancaster and Erablière Souligny in Dunvegan.
Wightman Sugar Bush has been producing maple syrup since the 1930s. In 2011, Jim Wightman built a modern maple syrup producing facility that can produce over 2,000 gallons of syrup a year.
Wightman himslef has been participating in the syrup business for 42 years.
“My brother and I were tapping when I was 9 to 10-years-old,” he said. “It started with helping my uncle, but the passion grew for me.”
The Wightman Sugar Bush has 4,900 taps. The sap taken from the taps goes through a reverse osmosis process that removes 80 to 85 percent of the water. This process creates a concentrated sap solution that has a sugar content of 15 percent.
“Maple weekend gives you a first-hand opportunity to see how maple products are produced, from tree to table, along with the chance to taste and purchase quality maple products,” said Cheryl Wightman, sister of Jim in a press release from Cornwall Tourism. “This year the sugar content is a bit higher than last year, and warmer weather encourages the sap to flow.”