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Mmmm is for Maple... and for Shady Grove Farm

Collecting sap the 21st Century way at Shady Grove Maple Co., Guelph, Ontario
Mmmmmm..... It's maple syrup season again!  That means maple festivals, maple tours and general maple madness across Ontario.  I swear - you can smell the sweetness of maple in the air around here.   So that means it's time to get outside and visit the sugar bush.

We've been to a few different festivals over the years, but this year we were looking for something a little different. We wanted to avoid the big crowds.  And we wanted to see the real deal - a farm that produces syrup for a living.  So we decided to check out Shady Grove Maple Co., a family farm that is in it's second year of operation.

Spoiler alert:  The farm was totally sweet! Sigh. Sorry.  I just couldn't resist.

Shady Grove is a great place to see first-hand how maple syrup is produced here in Ontario.  The farm has about 20,000 taps connected to vacuum tubing systems that cover six woodlots.  You won't find buckets with sap dripping from a spout here.

You will find a sugar shack, but behind that red barn door is a modern operation that can process up to 2,200 gallons of maple sap an hour. (Source: Shady Grove Maple Co. Profile)

While the farm uses today's technology to collect sap and process it into maple syrup, the centuries-old traditions of this sweet harvest are definitely not forgotten.

A horse-drawn wagon ride took us through the sugar bush and dropped us off at a crackling fire with an old-fashioned kettle hanging over the flames.  Here, we were told about the way maple syrup was traditionally made by natives and Ontario's early settlers.

With the wonderful smell of woodsmoke setting a pioneer mood, we also learned about what it takes on a modern farm like Shady Grove to get ready for the maple harvest.  Those 20,000 taps I mentioned earlier are placed in hand-drilled holes.  Hand-drilled! With cordless drills!  That's the kind of real-life factoid I love to hear when we visit a place like this.

Wagon rides, sugar shack tours, educational stuff.... it's all awesome at Shady Grove.  And there's more!

We made friends with a few animals in the petting zoo....

And we explored  a very pretty trail that takes you on a 15 minute, easy walk through the farm's forest.  It was nice to wander along the path, hearing the snow crunching underfoot.

Of course, a trip to a maple farm also means a chance to have a meal featuring the syrup produced right on the site....

We didn't try any of the offerings from the pancake shanty, but we couldn't leave the farm without making sure we had a little something special.  Our visit ended with a stop in the farm store, where we may have spent a little bit of our allowance on a sweet treat of maple candies.

Thanks, Shady Grove!  We learned a few things about harvesting maple sap and enjoyed an afternoon outside at your beautiful farm. This was one March outing that really was... Sweet!

You Should Go! Here's What You Need to Know....

Maple season will be coming to an end soon, but there is still time to visit Shady Grove Farm.

Weekends and Good Friday the farm is open from 10 am - 5 pm

There is a small admission fee to tour Shady Grove Farm
Adults: $7
Children aged 4 - 14: $5
Children 3 and under are free

Dogs are not allowed at the farm.

Shady Grove Farm is located just outside of Guelph.  Check out their website for directions and more information about the farm here: or visit their Facebook page.

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