Real Life Farmers: At Hanna's Maple Syrup, tapping is a family affair

Corrie and Jeremy Hanna and their children are carving out a life and a business on the family farm they hope to own one day

Share Adjust Comment Print

When Jeremy Hanna was 14-years-old he asked his father if they could make maple syrup. Twenty-three years later that simple ask has turned into a successful business running 10,000 taps over four different woodlots.

Jeremy and his wife Corrie Hanna run Hanna’s Maple Syrup located in Auburn.

“The family farm, which we hope to own one day, has been in the family for three generations,” Corrie said. That makes Jeremy and Corrie the fourth generation on the farm and their three young children the fifth.

A typical day during maple syrup season can be chalked up to one word, ‘busy’, but in all reality it’s a lot more complicated than that. When you’re running over 40 miles of pipeline there’s a lot of work that needs to be done in a short amount of time.

Like everything in farming, maple syrup production is dependent on the weather.

“If it’s still frozen in the morning, we can boil the concentrated sap and hopefully be done by the time the weather thaws,” Corrie said. And that’s hopefully in time to get all the vacuum pumps turned on.

If an overnight freezing doesn’t occur, the producers are up through the night making sure everything is running and fuelled up.

“Any spare time is spent walking pipeline and checking for leaks,” Corrie said.

According to the farmer, no two days are the same during syrup season. “You never know what will happen especially when you rely on Mother Nature.”

That’s the same answer you’d get if you asked a cash crop farmer about planting or an apple grower about harvest. Mother Nature rules. She always has and always will.

Extra help in the sugar bush is needed during the peak season so the Hannas bring in two friends to lend a hand-one to walk the pipeline and keep the vacuum up and the other to haul sap.

“We also have lots of extra help from family willing to check pump stations,” Corrie said.

Corrie and Jeremy’s kids, Hailey, 9, Blakely, 7, and Lincoln, 19 months, are pretty young right now but they can be often found trotting behind mom and dad in the bush.

“The girls are really interested in the syrup operation and love to help out. Although, at this point in the game, it is mostly just taste testing,” Corrie said.

About 90 per cent of Hanna’s maple syrup is sold in bulk to various large packers. The other 10 per cent is wholesaled to retailers in the form of bottled syrup and Hanna’s maple barbeque sauce.

“We are hoping to expand the wholesale side of the business in the future,” Corrie said.

There’s no denying that maple syrup production is a tonne of work, but like any sector in agriculture, it holds some pretty cool job perks too.

Corrie said it’s a unique industry to be in, one that offers a lot of opportunity. Working outside, though, is her number one favourite part of the job.

“Not all days are beautiful days during syrup season but when you get the good ones, you really appreciate them,” she said.

Raising kids on the farm is another thing for which the mom and producer is grateful. Lessons around the value of hard work, responsibility and teamwork are never out of reach this time of year (and all year round for that matter).

“In farm life, you work together, play together and make a life together,” Corrie said.

If you want to know more about Hanna’s Maple Syrup or follow along with this year’s production, make sure to check them out on Facebook at @hannasmaplesyrup.

Comments