Partake in Maine’s maple festivities!

Partake in Maine’s maple festivities!

March 22, 2024


Kristina Buckley

This coming weekend kicks off Maine’s 41st Annual Maine Maple Sunday! The history of maple sugar and syrup here in Maine (recognizing that we are on the ancestral, traditional, and unceded territory of the Wabanaki) is a long one dating back well before European colonists arrived in North America. Sugar water and syrup have been used as common sweeteners, as forms of sustenance, and medicinally for millennia - and continue to this day.

Now Maine is the third-largest maple producing state with maple syrup making up a large part of the local agricultural economy. In 2022 the Census of Agriculture reported 489 maple farms and over 680,000 gallons produced in Maine. This week we had a chance to catch up with Nate and Corrie St. Saviour over at Sap Hound Maple Company in Brownfield, where they run their maple business on their 57-acre farm. Through MFT’s Farming for the Long Haul program, they developed a business plan to scale up their production to meet demand for bulk maple packing, and were awarded an MFT Implementation Grant in 2023 to install a reverse osmosis system and generators to support that growth.

You’ve been sugaring for over 10 years now, what got you into the maple industry in the first place?

We enjoyed spending time in the woods through the spring and making a delicious product that utilizes a great natural resource without having a big impact on the forest*.

*Interested in learning more about the relationship between sugaring and climate impact? Read more here.

What's something about the process that you think people would be interested to learn more about?

I think most people would be surprised about how much the sap we collect changes throughout each season. As the trees go through their dormant winter state to their growing season, the sap we are collecting can vary considerably. The sugar content, minerals, microbes, and mineral content are constantly changing, and all those factors have a considerable impact on how the syrup ends up coming out.

Your goals for the implementation grant spoke a lot about scaling up production to meet wholesale standards in Maine. Can you speak a little more about what the maple market looks like here and where you see Sap Hound fitting into it?

The demand for the locally produced and sustainably harvested maple syrup that is being made in the Northeast continues to increase every year. The up-front infrastructure it requires to produce syrup on a large scale makes it challenging for producers to keep up the supply needed to fill the expanding demand. Sap Hound Maple Company is excited to keep building out our production capabilities in order to help fill the demand of our customers.  

What changes have you seen in the maple industry over the last decade?

There has been and will always be a large labor requirement to produce syrup. There has been a push in maple industry equipment and practices to improve efficiency with the collection and processing of sap.  

Will you be open to the public for Maine Maple Sunday and if so, what are your hours / what can visitors expect? If not, let us know if there are other ways Maine consumers can support your business.

Our doors are always open for people to stop in to check out what we are doing. Due to the remote location of our sugar camp, we don't get many visitors, so we don't offer any special events for maple weekend. We sell a lot of syrup to food production companies, restaurants, and smaller operations who can't produce enough syrup for their local market. I hope Maine customers will look for local products and restaurants that use real maple syrup as an ingredient and get out to their local sugarhouse to learn more about our great community of maple sugar makers.    

How will you celebrate Maine’s maple sugar makers this weekend?

As we welcome the Spring's first crocuses and late winter snows, sugarhouses across the state will open their doors for a day of maple syrup samples, demonstrations on how syrup is made, and to showcase one of Maine’s traditional agricultural products. To plan your Maine Maple Sunday Weekend and see a list of farms participating in 2024, click here.

Images from Sap Hound Maple Company

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