The Sweetest Sign of Spring

16 years ago
    “It’s been an interesting winter — that’s for sure,” says Kristi Brannen from behind the counter of her Route 2 shop.
Brannen, who owns and operates Spring Break Maple & Honey with her husband Kevin, said this spring has been one-of-a-kind for the Smyrna maple syrup producer.
“We’ve had some challenges we’ve never had before and we’ve done a lot of shoveling this year,” she said.
With over 3,000 trees tapped, the process of collecting the sap and turning it into maple syrup is enough to keep anyone busy this time of year. But mammoth doses of snow this winter have buried some of their lines, said Brannen, and the chilly weather has set back a maple syrup season that’s normally in full production by this time.
“Typically, we start around March 21, but this year, we didn’t start until April 3,” she explained. “The perfect conditions are temperatures in the 20s at night and mid 40s during the day.”
Brannen said they expect syrup season to be in full swing in the next few weeks.
Charlene Bradbury of Bradbury Maple Farms in Bridgewater said their season has also started late.
“Last year, we were making syrup by March 17,” Bradbury explained late Monday afternoon in between making a batches of maple candy and maple cream. “This year, we just started boiling toward the end of last week.”
Bradbury Farms, which taps 3,000 trees, has been in the maple syrup business for over 20 years.
“This is our 24th spring to make maple syrup and we’ve never had this much snow in the woods and we’ve never seen it (the season) start this late. The latest I remember getting started would be around March 23 or 24.”
Sunny days like the area saw on Monday make a difference, she added.
“This weather is perfect,” she said. “It’s what we’ve been waiting for. We already have about 1,500 gallons of sap today.”
If nothing else, the spring-like weather is a good enticement for visitors. Spring Break Maple & Honey held an open house Saturday, showing visitors the process and offering an array of their natural products. Bradbury Maple Farms has one more open house weekend coming up and several different school groups scheduled for visits, as well.
“It was a difficult winter for my husband and my son, getting everything tapped, getting around in the woods and getting everything shoveled out,” added Charlene. “But we’re optimistic that we’re going to have a good spring yet. It’s just going to be late that’s all.”
Bradbury Maple Farms, located 202 BootFoot Rd., will be hosting an open house Saturday and Sunday from 1 a.m. to 5 p.m. Spring Break Maple & Honey shop, located at 3315 Route 2, is open June through December.