Maple syrup summons folksy images of hiking through Quebec’s idyllic wintry forests, watching sap slowly drip into metal buckets, eventually slathering the sweet stuff onto pancakes and waffles. It just feels quintessentially Canadian, and not just because we’re the world’s largest producer. Like Tim Hortons, The Hudson Bay Company, and poutine, maple syrup is a Canadian icon.
But if one New York tycoon has his way, our most prized export could fall second to the Americans. A former Wall Street banker, Robb Turner is the man behind Madava Farms, which is located on an 800-acre property in Dutchess County, New York, with about 25,000 maples trees ready to be tapped. Turner moved to the area in 2006 and upon discovering the wealth of maple trees, decided to get into the syrup business.
The producer of Crown Maple Syrup, Madava Farms boasts the most-technologically advanced (and biggest!) sugar house in the world that uses a gigantic specially-commissioned reverse-osmosis machine to maximize syrup output. The certified organic farm has the ability to produce more than double the syrup as the largest farm in Canada.
There are more maple trees primed for syrup production in New York State than anywhere else in the world, which means if more enterprising stewards like Turner get into the syrup business, our neighbour’s down south could surpass Canada as the largest producer. Turner works closely with nearby environmental groups such as the New York Forest Owners Association and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. He also works alongside Mike Farrell, the director of Cornell University’s sugar maple research program.
For now, Madava Farms is keeping exporting on the smaller scale, selling its organic Crown Maple Syrup to consumers and top chefs in New York City. It looks like Canada has some tough competition if we want to keep our title as the maple syrup capital of the world.