Urban maple tappers have new view of the world

GRANITE FALLS, Minn. – If you want to change the way you look at the world around you, take up maple syrup making in an urban setting.

Leslie Bergquist is among a growing number of Minnesotans who have discovered the hobby of producing maple syrup can be enjoyed in an urban setting. He's shown checking a tree tapped at his home in a residential area on the east side of Granite Falls. Tom Cherveny / Foum News Service

Leslie Bergquist is among a growing number of Minnesotans who have discovered the hobby of producing maple syrup can be enjoyed in an urban setting. He's shown checking a tree tapped at his home in a residential area on the east side of Granite Falls. Tom Cherveny / Foum News Service

Leslie Bergquist was introduced to maple syrup making as a youngster growing up on a Meeker County farm near Dassel. He made it his 4-H project. He is shown here in a photo dated 1972. Submitted

Leslie Bergquist was introduced to maple syrup making as a youngster growing up on a Meeker County farm near Dassel. He made it his 4-H project. He is shown here in a photo dated 1972. Submitted

Susan Bergquist checks the specific gravity of sap being boiled to syrup. The hydrometer she is using will let her know when the sugar content is just right. Tom Cherveny / Forum News Service

Susan Bergquist checks the specific gravity of sap being boiled to syrup. The hydrometer she is using will let her know when the sugar content is just right. Tom Cherveny / Forum News Service

Jars of new maple syrup produced by Susan and Leslie Bergquist thanks to maple trees in their yard and those of their neighbors in Granite Falls. Tom Cherveny / Forum News Service

Jars of new maple syrup produced by Susan and Leslie Bergquist thanks to maple trees in their yard and those of their neighbors in Granite Falls. Tom Cherveny / Forum News Service

As Susan Bergquist can attest, it certainly has changed how her husband, Leslie, looks at the world. She laughs that he can’t take a walk around the streets of Granite Falls, or drive into any neighboring community, without his eyes scanning for maple trees like a bee in search of flowers.

“A small-town hobbyist” is how Leslie Bergquist describes the maple syrup making that he and Susan undertake every spring. Both admit they’re maple syrup-aholics. “If there is such a thing,” said Leslie, laughing.

They have 17 spiles tapped into 12 trees in their neighborhood on the east side of Granite Falls. They are just finishing up this year’s production. They estimate they have collected somewhere north of 400 gallons of sap from the trees, which they have been boiling down to syrup.

They are expecting around nine gallons of the sweet, amber-colored syrup that they treat like liquid gold.

They will share some of it with the neighbors kind enough to let them tap their trees, and some is set aside for their grown children. The rest is theirs to slather on pancakes and waffles in the year ahead.

They will also stash a portion away in the freezer as their east Granite Falls version of Canada’s closely guarded maple syrup reserve. They vividly remember 2012 when the sap didn’t run, and now make it a practice to have a reserve on hand just in case.

Minnesota is ranked 12th in the U.S. in terms of commercial maple syrup production, way behind states like Vermont, New York, Maine and Wisconsin, according to Leslie Bergquist. No one knows how many hobbyists likes the Bergquists are out there producing syrup for non-commercial use.

While maple syrup making conjures up images of big, boiling vats stoked with wood fires in the deep woods, it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s believed that more and more hobbyists are producing maple syrup in urban settings. 

For full article, go to: Brainerd Dispatch

Source, image(s), credits & more: Brainerd Dispatch | Tom Cherveny / Forum News Service