PANAMA - New York is the second-largest producer of maple syrup in the nation - and with production in the $32 million business growing, it could easily become No. 1.
To help build awareness of the maple industry in Chautauqua County and New York state, the Maple Producers Association of the Chautauqua Region presented its fifth annual Chautauqua Maple Promotion Day on Friday. The host for this year's event was Rock Hill Maple in Panama, a farm co-owned by John Goldberg and Roger Roush.
County maple producers, elected officials and other interested parties mingled throughout the morning inside the sugar shack on Clymer Center Road to learn more about the industry and about how they can help each other
Wyatt Johnson hammers a tap into a maple tree at Rock Hill Maple in Panama while John Goldberg, co-owner of the farm, looks on during the fifth annual Chautauqua Maple Promotion Day on Friday. Also watching are Goldberg’s son Garrett, right, and Wyatt’s brother Jonah.
P-J photo by Dave Emke
County Executive Greg Edwards said that the maple industry has always received great support at the county level and is a valuable part of the region's economy.
''Not only is it produced and sold here locally, but volumes of sap and syrup are collected and sold outside of Chautauqua County,'' he said. ''We are seeing significant revenue for farmers, helping to offset prices they are getting right now. It's a great early springtime activity to help get your agribusinesses started.''
Other elected officials at the event were county legislators Jerry Park, R-Forestville; Robert Stewart, R-Ellington; and Fred Croscut, R-Sherman. A maple farmer himself, Croscut shared his experiences from this season thus far in addition to reading a prepared statement from state Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, who was unable to attend the event due to a previous engagement.
''Maple producers support our communities and provide unique products to the people in and out of the region,'' Croscut said on behalf of Young. ''They attract tourists to the county and work overwhelming successful industries that rely on the success of small and family businesses.''
There are approximately 50 maple producers in Chautauqua County, reported David Munsee, vice president of the Maple Producers Association of the Chautauqua Region. A handful were represented at Friday's event, including Big Tree Maple, Maple Cider Farms, Weather Hill Farms and Fairbanks Maple, which provided maple cream, mustard and sugar samples throughout the morning.
Goldberg said his farm was honored to be asked to host the event. Rock Hill Maple has only been in operation for about four years, he said, and aims to produce between 200 and 300 gallons of syrup this year.
''As with any agriculture, it's important to have the county involved to promote this,'' he said. ''Anybody can do this - you can go out with five buckets out in the backyard and make some syrup. ... The more suppliers we have, that helps boost New York state. We need to get more people interested.''
Further maple promotion will be taking place across New York state the next two weekends. March 20-21 and March 27-28 will each be a Maple Weekend, presented by the New York State Maple Producers Association. Free samples, pancake breakfasts, tours, wagon rides and much more maple-related fun will be available at locations across the state. Participating farms in Chautauqua County are Big Tree Maple in Lakewood, Fairbanks Maple in Forestville, Gustafson's Maple Country USA in Falconer, and Vinewood Acres Sugar Shack in Westfield. For more information about events, visit www.mapleweekend.com.