Esson Creek Maple taps into syrup business
By Jenn Watt
Published April 11, 2017
Last year, the Bramhams tapped 16 trees. The year before: 12.
This year they have 530 taps.
The owners of Greenmantle Farm have lept into the maple syrup industry with their new venture Esson Creek Maple.
“This is Mark’s dream, to have a maple syrup operation,” says Heather Bramham, his daughter-in-law and a partner in the project.
It seems that Mark dreams big. In fact, the whole family does; Mark and Sandra and their son Josh and his wife Heather are all together in this project to create a maple syrup business in Highlands East.
Through the Farms at Work program, Mark was mentored by Marc Curle of Curle’s Maple in Campbellford. There he learned the basics about the business. They also were able to access Eastern Ontario Development Program dollars through Haliburton County Development Corporation.
The funding program awards matching funds. The Bramhams were successful in attaining $25,000, which they matched for a $50,000 investment in their operation.
Through a separate grant, they received $3,000 to prepare the property ahead of time.
Experts from Quebec came in to help with running tubes from the pump house through the sugar bush. Eighteen-hundred feet of lines run to 530 taps to the sugar house and a 1,000 gallon tank. From there, it is piped to the mezzanine and then put into the evaporator.
Heather explained that Esson Creek Maple intends to expand rapidly in coming years, adding 500 taps per year for the next five years at least.
In the years to come, they plan to expand into “value added products” such as jams, jellies, barbecue sauce, granola and even maple sugar and maple butter.
February’s early thaw plunged the new syrup makers into the business head first. There were some late nights and plenty of hard work as the sap started to flow, but it allowed them to make their mistakes and refine their process.
They’ve found that the trees on their property produce a syrup that has a buttery flavour.
Sandra attributes that to the calcite minerals on the property.
“Each region has a flavour,” she said.
The Bramhams point out that maple syrup is one product that Haliburton County is well suited for, but hasn’t been embraced to the extent it could be.
Culinary tourism is a growing industry and visitors often want to sample foods that have a taste distinct to the region.
The Bramhams are selling their syrup from the farm gate. You can find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/essoncreekmaple or call 613-334-7340. They are located at 1984 Essonville Line, just west of Wilberforce.