FRIENDLY, W.Va. (AP) - Fresh maple syrup doesn’t have to come from a faraway state or country.
Just ask the folks at Cedar Run Farms in Pleasants County. They get it fresh from their own trees and sell it at local supermarkets.
Cedar Run is a 157-acre family farm, said Chris Metz, 41, one of the founders. With his wife, Betsy Metz, 38, his mother Debbie Metz, 60, and his father, Bill Metz, 61, Chris Metz and his family operate the farm.
They opened their doors in 2009 as a Christmas tree farm and expanded into maple syrup the following year, Chris Metz said. Cedar is in the name, but ironically there are only five cedar trees on the entire farm, Metz said.
Cedar Run Farms adds nothing to its syrup, Metz said.
Cedar Run Farms discarded traditional sap collection methods after one year. Many hear of maple syrup and think of buckets hanging on spouts from the sides of trees and farmers stomping through the mud to empty and replace the buckets throughout the day.
“For more than 600 trees? The traditional approach is too labor intensive for one family,” Metz said.
Plastic tubing, 5/16 inch thick, is suspended from tree to tree, criss-crossing the valley at the farm. Tubes connected to each other forming a 1,200-foot-long, sap-gathering spider’s web that is the heart of the family operation.
The web clung to each maple tree the family had tapped with small round devices called check valves. These valves are inserted directly into the tree’s bark and pose no injury to the tree, Metz said.
“Our maple trees just happened to be here,” Metz said, “We have about 1,200 sugar maple and a dozen red maple trees on the property, with about 625 tapped at the moment,” he said.
Future plans include 1,200 maple trees on the property tapped with another 600 trees from their Tyler County farm, Metz said.
Every spring, the maples undergo a natural process, releasing a sugary sap that can be drawn from the tree. Normally, any injury to the tree’s bark would allow the sap to flow onto the ground, or in this case, through the tree’s check valve, until nightfall, Metz said.
When the check valves are removed at the end of the season, the tree will naturally heal over the spot, Metz said.
A single sugar maple tree can produce more than a gallon of sap every day during good weather, Metz said.