Farm sticks to tradition with Maple Sugaring Day

Farm sticks to tradition with Maple Sugaring Day

Kelan Benner boils down the sap over a wood fire in a previous year. File photo

February is always sweet at Benner’s Farm in Setauket.

The farm, located at 56 Gnarled Hollow Road, will hold its annual Maple Sugaring Day on Saturday, Feb. 20, from noon to 4 p.m. Although the Benners tapped their Norway maple trees last month, the community can come down to learn about the sugaring process from how to tap the trees to boiling down the sap.

Those who wish to attend the event will see the Benners collect and boil the sap down to syrup, see how to make maple sugar candies and enjoy fresh flapjacks drizzled with the syrup collected earlier that day. Owner Bob Benner will also teach residents about the history of maple sugaring and its ties to Native Americans.

While sticky sweet syrup is the main focus of the farm’s Maple Sugaring Day, families can sip hot chocolate and visit Benner’s farm animals during the event. Maple syrup, sugar candies and other maple-based products will also be available for sale.

The Benners started maple sugaring shortly after establishing the farm 39 years ago. The family started its annual maple sugaring event when they opened the event to the public around 1978.

“The event came after we started maple sugaring … we had been tapping our trees [and] as we have lived on the farm. More and more things we share with the public because they’re interested,” said Benner.

According to Benner around 100 people attended the event in the first few years alone. While the sugaring process has changed over the years, the Benners stick to boiling down their sap over a wood fire. Benner said the smoke from the wood enhances the syrup’s flavor.

While sugar maple trees are traditionally used for sugaring events, Benner said people can collect sap from a variety of trees. The farm produces around two to three gallons of syrup annually, but this year may be a little different. The warmer weather earlier this winter gave the trees more time to produce and store more sap, which helps the tree blossom during the spring.

“This is really the beginning of spring because the trees are making sugar [to have enough energy to blossom], Benner said. “Most plants do something like that but maple makes a lot.”

Scouts and small groups can register separately for the farm’s Maple Sugaring tours on Feb. 19 to the 21. Admission for these tours is $10 per person.

Admission for the public event on Saturday, Feb. 20, from noon to 4 p.m. is $8 for adults and $6 for senior citizens and children under 12 years old. Proceeds benefit Homestead Arts, a non-for-profit organization that was established to increase interest in homesteading, folklore and agricultural arts. For more information, call 631-689-8172 or visit the farm’s website at www.bennersfarm.com.

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