Bittersweet Kinsmen Sugar Bush Harvest

1001 Fanshawe College Boulevard, London, ON, Canada / CFRL
Bittersweet Kinsmen Sugar Bush Harvest

Newly Added "Sugar Shack"

The Kinsmen Sugar Bush is a true part of London’s history. They’ve been in operation since 1972, originally acting as a pancake house for members and tourists alike, and then, 12 years ago, they became their own supplier of syrup, working every year to extract and refine sap from their massive plot of Sugar Maple trees containing over 1500 taps.

In this time, the Kinsmen have seen everything nature could throw at them. And, as with any other food harvests, their sap intake is greatly affected by the ever-changing weather. Specifically, the unseasonably warm winter we’ve had this year has impacted their intake of syrup, limiting the amount, and strangely enough, increasing the quality.

 

The Kinsmen Sap Ladder, where the harvested sap is directed to the sap vats.

The Kinsmen Sap Ladder, where the harvested sap is directed to the sap vats.

 

Sap is made up of 3 major components: water, minerals, and sugar. Water makes up 95-99% of the sap itself, with the mineral and sugar content varying, which largely determines the quality. Sap starts to run when the temperature is plus 5°C in the daytime, and below 0°C n the evening. This winter, after record breaking warmth, the maple season started sooner than expected, and also ended much earlier, thus greatly limiting the time to tap.

The Kinsmen operate the sugar bush to the public every weekend during March, and every day during March Break. They welcome customers of all ages to come out and experience the incredible process that is syrup refining. You can take a walking tour through the entire property, learn about how syrup is extracted and refined, take pleasant horse drawn carriage rides, and at the end (or beginning, if you’re hungry enough) of it all, you can partake in their delicious pancake and sausage meal.

 

Pancakes, Syrup, and Sausages from Kinsmen

Pancakes, Syrup, and Sausages from Kinsmen

 

Seems pretty great, right? It is. And you will rarely see a customer whose heart isn’t warmed by the massive outpouring of support from the Kinsmen’s volunteers. But even though the experience is a tried and true pleasure, their turnout this season was much smaller than previous years. While they usually prepare for large crowds, and have live demonstrations of their sap-refining, this year they had to boil water for effect, because of the sheer lack of usable sap.

 

Kinsmen Sap Vat, boiling water due to lack of sap.

Kinsmen Sap Vat, boiling water due to lack of sap.

 

Regardless, the Kinsmen adjusted their Sugar Bush experience according to the weather, still intent on providing an educational and delicious trip for the families that did brave the muddy drive in. All proceeds the Kinsmen gather is donated to a host of local charities and non-profit organizations, and their involvement in the community in a variety of areas has proven to be extremely beneficial. The incredible men and women of the Kinsmen promise to continue providing this experience, so that the unique Canadian culture that so definitely defines Canada as a country is passed on to future generations.

 

To see more visuals of the Kinsmen Sugar Bush, see the following report:

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