ALTO, Mich. — A farm that has been producing their own maple syrup for over 100 years is inviting the public out for their annual Maple Syrup Festival on Saturday, March 13.
You and your family will have the chance to visit their Sugar Shack, where they currently have over 1,500 taps going.
“My ancestors immigrated here from Switzerland, and they started out in the late 1800s and found they had this amazing 90-acre maple woods behind their property,” said Annie Link, a partner at SwissLane Farms.
While SwissLane Farms focuses their efforts on dairy, the maples have always held a special place in the family's hearts.
Back in the 1800s the family used to boil down the maple sap to make sugar, which he would take to Grand Rapids to sell.
But eventually sugar became readily available, and they switched to producing maple syrup from the sap.
“And just through the years we tried to upgrade and continuing investing in it," Link told FOX 17 on their visit to the Sugar Shack Thursday afternoon.
“We just evaporate all the water out of it, and then it's just maple syrup."
It's a simple process really, and it hasn't changed a whole lot throughout the decades.
The process used to be quite labor intensive—requiring them to catch sap in buckets attached to each tap in each tree, and then carrying those buckets up to the shack to be boiled down.
Now they use an intricate system of tubes that allows the sap to drain down to a pump house, which then pumps it all up a hill and into the sugar shack, where it is boiled down.
“We have about 1,500 taps and more than half of the trees have two taps in them,” Link said Friday.
“The lines are a great way for us to not only reduce the labor associated with syrup but actually adds higher quality to the syrup too. We found the syrup is cleaner; a lot of debris would get in the buckets.”
On March 13, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., the Sugar Shack will be open.
Folks are asked to start the day at the Wittenbach Wege Center at 10 a.m., where they will travel the trails and learn about how both Native Americans and early settlers used to harvest and process maple syrup.
After that you can drive over to SwissLane's shop to see syrup being processed, before everyone drives over to the Sugar Shack in a caravan.
You can find out more information about the Saturday March 13 Maple Syrup Festival Open House at the SwissLane Farms website.