PRINCE EDWARD — Driving down the laneway of 1669 Salem Road, the smell of burning wood and sweet sap leads to the cabins nestled just inside the tree line.
There at Walt’s Sugar Shack, the Walt family is still busy bringing in sap for production.
After already doubling last year’s syrup production, having sap to sell until the year ends won’t be a problem for Brian and Karn Walt.
“Normally we would have been done a long time ago, I never thought it would run this long,” said Brian.
“We’re here until around 1 a.m. every night to keep up production,” added Karen. “Nobody is really sure why it’s running so long. But we’re just going with the flow.”
The couple, along with Brian’s parents, John and Marion, spend countless hours maintaining their land and producing their many maple products.
The Earle-Walt farmland stretches from North Lakeside Drive to Consecon with the sap shack located on the north end, facing Salem Road. Since the land was first plotted in the early 1800’s, the Earle-Walt farm has gone through many changes in regards to the production of syrup. Many still visualize a hanging bucket and open fire when thinking about syrup production; however, on the Walt farm, things are a little different.
A pipe and vacuum system reaching to the farthest points of the farm carries sap to a holding tank. Over the past 15 years the farm has expanded from 40 tapped trees to more than 1,000 this season.
“This season is our first season with the vacuum system. We used to go collect the individual buckets, now we can just sit and watch the sap pour in.” said Karen.
“We couldn’t have done any of this without our friends and family. Without them we wouldn’t be able to do as much as we’ve done and learn as much as we have.”
Maple production throughout the County has grown tremendously, in part due to the Maple in the County festival, which brought more than 2,000 visitors to Walt’s Sugar Shack.
Karen said the festival was a great success bringing people from all over the province to enjoy the sights, activities and tastes of the county.
“We had a head count of about 2,000 people, and fed around 1,500 through the course of the Maple in the County weekend,” she said. “We got to learn from the professionals and people who are doing it year after year.
“It was a great experience.”
The Walt family encourages past and new visitors from February through April and in the off-season by appointment. They will also be at the upcoming Trenton home show April 25-27, featuring many of their maple products.
From the Intelligencer, by Zaachary Shunock. Published April 25, 2014