The City of Moncton is celebrating a sweet anniversary.
It has been 20 years since it became the only municipality in Canada to make it own brand of maple syrup.
“It’s pretty special. The city is lucky to have a hardwood forest not many cities do,” said Heather Fraser, who works as a forester for the city and who started the project two decades ago after buying an evaporator and running miles of lines to their tree stand located just outside of the city near the watershed in Tutle Creek, N.B.
Fraser said she came up with the idea after coming across some old rusty sap pails and evaporator equipment in the woods.
“When the city bought the land in the 60s, they didn’t realize they bought a sugar woods forest. So we rejuvenate it back into what I was in the olden days.”
Fraser is responsible for making sure the sap flows freely though miles of lines connected to more than 2,000 tapped trees on nearly 20 acres of land. She says it costs the city anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000 a year to run the operation, which regularly turns a profit from the sales of its products.
She says the bottled syrup is often used as gifts for conventions being held in the city allowing people to “take home Moncton.” Any profits made from the sale of product is invested back into the maple stand.
Fraser said it is exhausting work, but it’s her labour of love and her main goal is to educate people about Canada’s sweet treat from sap to syrup.
She says it’s still too soon to know what this maple season will bring, but does have a little extra work on her hands repairing lines this year.
“We have had a quite a bit of bear chew this spring and that of course all needs to be prepared before the sap starts flowing through the pipes,” said Fraser.
Fraser says mild weather in January must have awoken them and their sweet tooth.
As the only municipality with its own brand of syrup often used as gifts handed out at conventions, David Briggs, past president of the North American Maple Syrup Council, said the city’s stand plays an important role in education.
“We are working hard as an industry to educate the public to use more maple syrup but we’ve got to do that in other countries and get our exports up,” said Briggs.