2017-03-30 / Front Page

Sugar Bush Tours On Tap This Week

By Jacob A. Ball

Michigan Maple Syrup Weekend is an opportunity to see maple syrup production up close from local producers. Tours will be offered at several sugar bushes in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, where visitors can tour the facilities and sample an assortment of homemade treats. This year the open houses will be the weekend of Saturday, April 1, and Sunday April 2. Four local sugar bushes will be participating, Besteman Maple Products, Postma Brothers Maple, and Michigan Maple Farms in Rudyard, and Tassier Sugar Bush in Cedarville.

Weather reports say warmer weather is on the way in the coming week, and syrup production could be in full swing during Michigan Maple Weekend. To make maple syrup requires temperatures above freezing during the day, but below freezing at night.

Deb Tassier is one of the owners and operators of Tassier Sugar Bush alongside her husband, Dan. Their daughter will prepare a wide assortment of maple-based sweets for visitors to sample, including maple chocolate chip cookies, maple nut bread, maple crispies, and mini-cupcakes with maple frosting. Mrs. Tassier said that the taps “actually started running pretty well” during warmer weather the week of Monday, March 20. Tours of their maple tree farm and the production facility will be offered throughout the weekend. Tassier Sugar Bush will be open for visitors Saturday, April 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and again Sunday, April 2, from noon to 4 p.m. Tassier’s is at 2875 East Swede Road just north of downtown Cedarville off of M-129.

Michigan Maple Farms of Rudyard will be open both days, as well, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Michigan Maple Farms is owned and operated by Mike Ross and his family. Mr. Ross’ daughter and staff member Emily DeYoung said that they boiled sap last week, and that once the weather warms back up, production should be good for the next month or so. Traditionally, the production season in the EUP runs from the middle of March at the earliest to the end of May at the latest, but every year comes with a new timetable. Tours will be offered of Michigan Maple Farms’ more than 20,000-tree farm and their production facility. Mrs. DeYoung said if at all possible they would be boiling sap that weekend to show visitors how their process works to create sustainably harvested maple syrup. Michigan Maple Farms is at 11866 West Thompson Road north of Rudyard.

Besteman Maple Products and Postma Brothers Maple will both be open to visitors Saturday, April 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Besteman’s will host tours of their entire facility. When guests arrive they will be taken out to the farm and shown how to tap a tree, then the tour will continue inside, where the evaporator and canning process will demonstrated. The whole tour should take just about an hour to complete. Afterward, there will be samples available of homemade maple mustard, maple crème, maple candy, and an assortment of baked goods. Besteman’s is owned and operated by Mark and Marvin Besteman. Marvin’s wife, Dee, also has a starring role in the production process, she said the recent warmer weather produced some sap. Coming weeks should bring improved yields.

“After this weekend, [of Saturday, March 25], we hope to be in production every day,” Mrs. Besteman said.

Besteman’s Maple Products is at 15610 South Tilson Road north of Rudyard. Marvin Besteman said he was looking forward to the weekend and hopes for good weather.

Postma Brothers Maple Syrup is located practically next door at 15471 South Tilson Road. While visiting Postma’s, those who want to learn how to tap a maple tree will be instructed on the process, with tools and a demonstration provided. An assortment of maple confections will be available to sample, including maple sugar and cream, doughnuts with maple frosting, and mini-pancakes with sausages wrapped inside. One of the co-owners, Kevin Postma, said that they hope to be boiling sap during the open house to show visitors their process. He added that recent weeks have been only slightly productive, but that he has high hopes for a good week of sap production as the weather begins to warm.

All three Rudyard sugar bushes are within a couple miles of each other and an easy drive from Tassier Sugar Bush in Cedarville.

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