A couple of weeks ago, I saw that Dwija and her family were tapping the maple trees at their new house. Never one to miss an opportunity to engage in a seasonal activity, I decided to do a little investigating into our options for seeing a maple-tapping, sap-boiling operation. By investigating, I mean that while we were in Traverse City last week, I asked my mom if her friends, who own a farm nearby, tapped maples. They do! They were doing it last week, and invited us to come by and check it out.
Fred and Barb Weber started Growing Legacy Farm seven years ago because they wanted to give their grandchildren the opportunity to see where their food came from, to live close to the land, and to be in community with family all the time. They started small, raising broiler chickens, and more recently purchased their current farm, where they have been expanding and improving every year, adding goats, more chickens, a no-till vegetable and herb garden, and grass-fed cattle. They converted their farmhouse so that they have semi-private residences (they live downstairs while their kids and grandkids live upstairs), and their passion for what their doing, not to mention the joy they are experiencing in living out this particular dream just radiates from them.
When we arrived on the farm, we were welcomed inside for a brief history, and then Fred took us on a little tour of the farm while Barb stayed inside to finish baking bread. First we visited the chicken coop, where the girls were chattering happily and staying warm. We saw the goats, then walked across a field to the main attraction: the maples! They have 40 or 50 trees tapped this year, each outfitted with plastic tube that diverts sap into buckets. The sap looks just like water, and we all dipped our fingers in for a taste, which was like barely maple-scented water. Not sticky at all!
After we collected a bit of sap, we brought it back to where they boil it down to make syrup. It takes about 40 gallons of maple sap to produce 1 gallon of syrup! After a pass through a filter, we added our freshly-gathered sap to the boiler, took a peek at the blazing wood fire they use to heat it, and then headed inside for a little taste of last year's finished product.
On the way, my sister took Anne to the chicken coop to collect some eggs! Anne was absolutely delighted, and proudly brought her little bucket of eggs to show us all.
It was a fantastic outing, and we're looking forward to coming back when the farming season is in full swing. If you're in Northern Michigan and you're looking for sustainably-raised meat and eggs, please check out Growing Legacy Farm!