Split Acres Maple
Shaun Broadwater oversees 19,000 maple tree taps on the property he owns and leases. Growing up on the family farm helping to raise livestock and dairy, maple was a new venture for teenage Broadwater. Finding maple trees on the farm, he decided to try his hand at making maple syrup. That first batch was a disaster, burning everything–including the pans. But persistence paid off: Split Acres Maple, his successful business, produces such specialties as maple candies and maple sugar from the syrup he makes and sells locally, and as wholesale to S&S Maple Camp, an award-winning maple tapper since 1968, as well as Iddo Brenneman. Owner of Brenneman Maple of Springs, Pennsylvania, and a dealer of maple supplies, Breneman sells syrup as far away as New Hampshire–a long way, literally and figuratively, from Shaun’s first burned batch.
While most people associate maple syrup with the Northeast, western Marylanders have been tapping maple trees for generations. Here, syrup production only occurs from late February through April. The sap that is boiled to make syrup thaws in spring, making it easier to collect when trees are tapped. Maple syrup comes in different colors, otherwise known as grades, from lighter golden amber to a darker hue similar to molasses. In Maryland, the syrup is usually lighter in color, exactly what Broadwater prefers when making maple sugar. He explains that this year it takes about 58 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. Using a reverse osmosis machine to decrease the sap’s water content to reduce boiling time, a fuel-oil Leader evaporator, a monitoring system to maintain the vacuuming of the maple tubing, and a tank leveler that indicates the sap level, Broadwater’s combination of traditional tapping methods with this newer technology helps manage time and eliminate waste, making the process more efficient, waste-free, and sustainable.
Broadwater, along with his children, Austin and Savana–both of whom work the taps and farm with him–will demonstrate maple syrup boiling and educate festival attendees on the benefits of combining old and new methods. “It’s a family affair the whole way around,” Broadwater shares.