It’s go time for maple trees and sugar shacks in northern Michigan.
The state is the fifth largest maple syrup producer in the U.S. Maple syrup is also the first farm crop harvested in Michigan each year.
The Maple Tree Syrup Company in East Jordan is in its third season.
They started tapping trees about a week ago, almost a month earlier than last year.
“When we see about three or four straight days above freezing, pull out our snowshoes, get our drills,” said Josh Chamberlain, owner of the Maple Tree.
Chamberlain started the Maple Tree syrup company three years ago after selling his landscaping company.
“It’s a fun experience to be able to watch a product come from the trees that you own from nature and create something,” said Chamberlain.
The farm finished last season with 708 gallons of maple syrup; this year, the goal is 1,000 gallons.
“Maple syrup sadly doesn’t have the backing it should. I always look at honey, They’ve done a great job with marketing, but the syrup has more zinc, magnesium, vitamins, and minerals than honey. It’s better for you,” explained Chamberlain.
As sap runs through maple trees, the syrup has always run through Chamberlain’s family. He’s proud to turn a beloved hobby into a full-time job.
“My favorite thing is I have a photo of my grandpa, and it’s a photo of him filling up his pan out in the woods. And oddly enough, out of nowhere, a gentleman took a picture of me in the shack, and I was just finishing putting some extra sap back into the evaporator. I didn’t know he had taken the picture. It’s like a replica, just the future. So it’s kind of neat,” said Chamberlain.
Chamberlain hopes one of his six children will follow his lead one day.
The Maple Tree syrup company’s products are sold at the Maple Tree store in East Jordan.
The store opens for the season in May.