After receiving some instructions from Frank Heerkens, North Stormont Mayor François Landry and PRNG MPP Stéphane Sarrazin prepare to place the first tap in a maple tree during the ceremony at Sand Road Maple Farm on Sun., March 10.   Thompson Goddard Photo

NORTH STORMONT – Walking into Sand Road Maple Farm for the first tap ceremony on March 10, one was able to smell the sweet maple steam from the evaporator room there.

While the weather was a bit chilly and rainy, there was plenty of joy around as Frank Heerkens, co-chair with Anne Zoeller of the Eastern Ontario Maple Syrup Producers organization welcomed people to the event. He noted several local maple syrup producers were in the crowd which had assembled to watch as the ceremonial first tap of 2024 was made.

Heerkens mentioned how the tapping of maple trees in the spring and the subsequent maple syrup is the first agricultural crop of the year. With 2.5 million maple taps in this province, more maple trees available combined with government assistance, the maple syrup industry has the ability to grow larger. Angela Coleman, who with her husband Scott operate Sand Road Maple Farm, provided information on the long history of maple syrup production in the local area.

Prescott-Russell-North Glengarry MPP Stéphane Sarrazin and North Stormont Mayor François Landry, following instructions from Heerken, facilitated the placing of the ceremonial first tap of the 2024 Maple Syrup Season. Following this Jamie MacDonald, Warden of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry as well as Mayor of North Glengarry, with North Stormont Councillor Allison McDonald were invited to place a tap in one of the other trees. A third tap was made by Russian exchange student Mark Kras and Jim Standing with whom he resides with in Cornwall.

“It was a great day to come out and support our maple syrup producers and tapping the tree was fun,” commented SDG Warden MacDonald. North Stormont Mayor François Landry mentioned how fortunate it is to have a venue such as Sand Road Maple Farm in the municipality, before wishing for a very successful maple syrup season. Angela mentioned how the sap run is early this year, but excellent and commented how there was an excellent turnout of visitors for breakfast, a walk through the forest or to pick up some maple syrup at the venue.

North Glengarry Deputy Mayor Carma Williams summed the event up well when she said, “it was a great day for the maple syrup producers, and it was lovely to come together to support them.”