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Q&A with Speaker & Maple Syrup Producer Terry Hoover

Maple syrup coming off the evaporator

Collage of maple syrup related images.

Q:  Tell us a little about your maple syrup operation….

A:  We are located just south of Listowel on line 78. We have a 100 acre certified organic farm, 50 acres of predominantly hard sugar maple with a mixture of ash, black cherry, beech, soft maple, poplar and oak.

Q:  Why did you decide to start making maple syrup?

A:  It all started when my Mom and Dad took me to a maple syrup operation and I was hooked. We tapped a single maple tree the next day and this began a life long love of making maple syrup.

Terry HooverQ:  Why did you decide to make maple syrup to be sold?

A:  I enjoy making maple syrup and maple syrup is the first crop of the year.  It made good sense to keep expanding my operation, build my market and continue to meet the demands of my existing and new customers.

Since the equipment used in the production of maple syrup is primarily stainless steel, there is an upfront start up cost.  That initial investment from a cost perspective almost forces you to expand.

Plus I just love it so much.

Q:  Why did you decide to become certified organic?

A:  We want to be sustainable and keep our earth safe.

We also recognized that we were already following the rules for making organic maple syrup so the next logical step was to get certified so that we could add “certified organic” to our labels.

Being certified organic also opened up new avenues for distribution (e.g. health food stores).

Q:  What are a couple of the important qualities of being certified organic?

A:  To me, two important qualities are:
1. Traceability – everything is documented
2. Annual inspection by a third party

Q:  When you first started out what were 1-2 typical challenges you faced and how did you resolve them?

A:  The first challenge was the ability to balance a full time ‘off farm’ job and the extra hours required during syrup season. The sap always seems to run when you are scheduled to work.

The second – not to expand too fast. Establish your market and as it grows, so should your operation.

Q:  Now as an experienced operator, what challenges are you working on?

A:  The primary challenge is still having to balance a full time off farm job during the syrup season. I’ve managed to partially resolve this by integrating technology into my operation and also using more sophisticated, reliable equipment.

Finding good, reliable help is also a challenge, and one I continue to work on.

It’s always important to be prepared for the unexpected. I mitigate this by checking my equipment, check and double check.

Q:  What is your favourite way to enjoy maple syrup? (on pancakes, french toast? other?)

A:  Maple syrup is no longer just a topping. It is an ingredient that can be incorporated into a variety of dishes – appetizers, main course, desserts.

Personally I enjoy maple syrup on my waffles. My wife puts it in her morning coffee as a treat to start her day.

Q:  Why should people attend your workshop?

A:  It will be one of the most entertaining and educational hours a person will spend at the conference.

It’s an opportunity to embrace a Canadian tradition for yourself. There is nothing more Canadian than maple syrup.

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Terry Hoover, along with Kevin Snyder, will be presenting “Organic Maple Syrup Production 202 – Correcting the First Year Mistakes” on Sunday January 26, 2020 at the conference.  To find out more about this workshop visit here.

You can also visit their booth in the Trade Show located on the Main Floor in the ‘Daily Grind’ section, noted as G2.