With spring comes maple syrup, and Kawarthas Northumberland is packed with ways to celebrate the season. Keep an eye out for our local producers at grocers and farmer’s markets throughout the region, but to really experience local maple syrup at its freshest and finest you need to go straight to the source. Here are five sugar bushes that offer maple tours, tastings, and other springtime attractions.
For many Peterborough-area residents, McLean Berry Farm provides a way to mark the seasons. It’s pick-your-own strawberries in the summer, Pumpkinfest in the fall, and Maplefest in the early spring. The latter offers wagon rides, live music, and tree-tapping demonstrations. Kids will love the farm animals and the maple toffee, the older crowd will be drawn to the snowshoe trek through the sugar bush, and everyone will appreciate a tour of the sugar shack. Maplefest takes place on weekends in March – check here for a complete list of dates.
The Roost just north of Kirkfield offers a true rural experience. Their maple syrup tour will take you on a 3-5 km walking tour of the farm property, giving you a survey of the entire syrup-making process. The Roost also sell their meat, honey, and preserves made in-house (and as you might expect from the name, the farm-fresh eggs are a real treat). While you’re in the area, you might drop also in on Carden Alvar Provincial Park. This officially designated Important Bird and Biodiversity Area is an excellent place to spot rare species, and birding season opens around the same time as maple syrup season.
The family at Clancey and Gale’s have been in the maple business since 1931, and it shows in their delicious, sustainably produced maple products. If you’ve seen a traditional sugar shack before, you might be interested to see how Clancey and Gale’s uses a reverse osmosis machine to remove water from the maple sap before boiling, reducing energy consumption. Tours of their Pontypool-area property are available by appointment — see here for contact details.
Curle’s of Campbellford does double duty as both a sugar shack and a maple museum. Take a self-guided tour of the museum to get some insight into how production has changed over the years, and how it has played a role in Canadian communities. Then head over to the store for maple syrup, maple butter, maple sugar, and other local delicacies. Just call ahead to (705) 653-2519 to confirm availability before you set out.
We’ve written about the Warkworth Maple Syrup festival before, but it bears repeating – this a must-do event for maple syrup aficionados. The ever-charming town of Warkworth comes together with maple-themed menus in cafes and restaurants, artisan market, petting zoo, and more. After a whirl around town, catch the shuttle to Sandy Flat Sugar Bush for syrup-making demonstrations and activities. The Sandy Flat sugar shack is quintessentially Canadian with its wood-panelled walls and live musical accompaniment to go with your pancake meal.