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Tapping into the syrup season

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Don Mitchell, the conservation chair of the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority and the mayor of Whitby, works away at drilling a hole into a maple tree while Jennifer French, MPP for Oshawa, eagerly awaits to hammer in the first tap of the maple syrup season at Purple Woods Conservation Area.

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

With winter on its way out and spring creeping into the city, that can only mean one thing: it’s maple syrup season.

It was with that reasoning that the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association (OMSPA) chose Purple Woods Conservation Area as the spot to do its official first tapping of the season in the province.

However, according to the association’s head, the official first was more like the unofficial last.

“This is the first crop of the year on the farm, so that’s why we have the traditional first tapping ceremony early. And we were just joking about that yesterday, about how it should be called the last tapping ceremony this year because everyone’s pretty much tapped. It’s come early,” says Terry Hoover, the association’s president. “The earliest I’d ever boiled personally was March 1, and this year was on Feb. 21. Everything is early.”

Even with maple syrup production getting under way earlier than usual, the annual Purple Woods Maple Syrup Festival is looking strong for 2016, and hoping to improve on the numbers seen last year, when more than 10,000 people attended.

“We’re feeling great about the festival. The weather’s wonderful for people but not really for maple syrup. We’re having an earlier start than normal, so some of our first runs of sap happened in February,” says Patricia Lowe, the director of stewardship, education and communication for the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority.

Lowe adds that 1,250 trees have been tapped this year, with each tree producing approximately one litre of syrup from 40 litres each of sap.

This year’s festival gets started on March 12 and runs all through the March Break. From there, the festival will take place every weekend through to the end of the month, with the last day coming on April 2.

For more information, visit cloca.com/msf.

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