October 22, 2021

Maple products on-the-go

Cooper Hill farm in Marathon holds drive-through event

Jamie Costa/staff reporter

Christa Boice hands a bag of maple-covered peanuts to Cal Addy, of Dryden, on Saturday at Cooper Hill Maple in Marathon. The farm had a drive-through event to sell its products during a statewide maple weekend.

Dozens of customers pulled up the driveway at Cooper Hill Maple farm Saturday to pick up their favorite maple products outside the farm’s sugar house.

The Boice family of Marathon was selling its spring favorites — maple syrup, maple sugar, maple candies, maple lollipops — ahead of the Central New York Maple Festival on April 10.

“This is our first time hosting a maple weekend since 2019,” Sylvia Boice said. “We used to offer tours and pancake breakfasts.”

Saturday marked the start of what would have been an open house weekend, when sugar producing farms that are part of the New York State Maple Producers Association share their products, host events and offer tours.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a drive-through was the farm’s only option, said Sylvia Boice, co-owner of the farm. The farm joined the association in 2013 when it became a commercial production facility, but it’s been operating for more than 20 years.

Jamie Costa/staff reporter

Syrup is displayed outside of Cooper Hill Maple farm’s sugar house Saturday in Marathon.

 

“Some of my earliest memories were of tapping maple trees with my grandfather before boiling sap in a three-sided hut right there in the woods,” said Steve Boice, co-owner.

Cooper Hill Maple produces about 500 gallons of syrup annually, sometimes exceeding 600, within a six-week period, Steve Boice said. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

The sugar house, located at the bottom of a hill, collects sap from 2,000 trees through a gravitational pipeline stretching across 40 acres. The Boice family processes and makes its maple products inside, boiling the sap at 219 degrees to eliminate much of the water before reaching the desired syrup texture.

To make products like lollipops or sugar, the syrup is boiled further to eliminate all traces of water.

“The sap is nutrients to the trees,” Steve Boice said. “But the trees are smart enough not to give more than they can afford to lose.”

A wooden wall inside the sugar house shows the start and end dates of sugar collection. Since 2013, collection hasn’t extended past April 19.

This year, the farmers started collecting on March 1 and expects they won’t extend past the end of April.

“We sell products all year long,” Sylvia Boice said. “But they are produced in the spring.”

Within 30 minutes Saturday, 15 people drove around the cul-de-sac to pick up maple syrup.

“I’ve never bought maple products before,” said Cal Addy of Dryden. “But I always try to support local businesses.”

Addy bought two tubs of maple cream, maple syrup and maple-covered peanuts.

The farm will be open for a follow up drive-through event 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.