LINCOLN – On a chilly Saturday morning, March 16, in Lincoln, community members gathered to celebrate the 10th annual Maple Syrup Celebration Day held at the Sugar Shack near Alcona Community Schools.
The idea to create a maple syrup facility came in 2005, and again in 2007, when the Alcona Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter decided to write grants to build their own facility. The Alcona FFA chapter was founded in 1935 and is a student leadership group centered around developing leadership skills that tie in with the agriscience program through Alcona Community Schools.
According to Connor Hubbard, agriscience teacher and FFA advisor, maple syrup has been a large part of the school’s agriscience program and FFA due to the forest resources that are readily available in the area.
In 2007, a log cabin that previously existed on the Alcona Community Schools property was turned into the Alcona FFA Sugar Shack for maple syrup production. Residents were encouraged to enjoy a free pancake breakfast courtesy of Alcona FFA at the March 16 event.
Members of the Alcona FFA worked closely with Kevin and Shannon Rifenbark, Alcona Coffee Company and Amish Country Cheese, to provide local products for the breakfast. Farm to Fork Alcona attended as well.
There was also the opportunity for local residents to receive tours of the facility from how to collect sap from the tree to the end product. Alcona FFA students provided these tours every 30 minutes. According to Hubbard, it takes about seven hours to make one bottle of maple syrup.
After a educational tour and a full stomach, community members were encouraged to purchase some of the maple syrup made by Alcona FFA members which was for sale next to the Sugar Shack.
The start of the event marks the beginning of collection season and Hubbard is hoping for lots of sap. He said he hopes to collect 8,000 gallons of sap this year which is equivalent to about 200 gallons of syrup.
For more information about Alcona FFA, visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/alconaffa/