To Tolbert and Dawn Stinson of Stinson Maple Products, the making of the maple syrup is seasonal, February to May, from putting in the first tap to taking out the last tap, but the selling of the syrup is year round.
Since both work full time at other jobs, maple syrup production is considered part time for them. They have been in operation for nine years now only tapping enough trees to supply themselves and family in the beginning to now where they tap some 2,400 trees.
"We sell our syrup locally at the Island Market in Richards Landing and we sell our syrup as farm gate sales," said Dawn.
"In the fall we attend craft/fall fairs in Chapleau, Timmins, Jocelyn Harvest Festival, Holly Jolly Christmas Show and other Christmas shows. Also we sell in White River, Tunnel Lake, Chapleau. We can do deliveries and ship," she said. Customers generally find them through their Facebook page.
"As well as the maple syrup I make maple fudge, maple caramel popcorn, maple granola, maple jelly, and maple candies, maple sugar and maple cream. These items are more readily available in the fall, but I can take special orders," said Dawn.
During this Covid-19 pandemic they have used the guidelines that are required by Algoma Public Health. They did not encourage visitors during the season and are also being extra careful with washing and sanitizing their hands. The equipment is regularly cleaned as set out by the OMSPA (Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association) and CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) guidelines.
"Guidelines were set out by OMSPA which indicated that we could collect and process syrup; pack and make maple syrup products and sell maple products. We must observe the guidelines set by (APH). We could not serve food, provide samples or host groups of any size," said Stinson.
"Covid-19 at this point has not affected us too much. The sales are not as high as other years due the fact people are not coming to the island to get their “fresh syrup”. In the fall, we will probably see a more direct effect on our sales. With people not working, maple syrup may seem to be an extra to some, but to others they will make a commitment to buy syrup. At this point it is difficult to determine whether these craft shows will be even happening."
"Because of Covid-19, the OMSP’s provincewide Maple Weekend was cancelled. Gilbertson’s Pancake House had to close and the Legion 374 had to postpone their Maple Festival," noted Stinson.
"The ice storm was an additional hit to us. Branches small and large from the maple trees snapped off. There were about 50 small maple trees that tops were broke off which were our future trees. It took about 40 hours cleaning up the bush to be ready for syrup season. " she said. "Stay safe. Shop local. Be kind to all since we are doing our best in this challenging times."