BOISDALE — Paul MacKenzie of Highland Gold Maple Products is hitting the road with a mini version of his sugar shack.

“I’ve been a regular at the pancake breakfast at the Boisdale fire hall for about five years,” said MacKenzie, a science teacher at Memorial High School in Sydney Mines. “They always get good crowds, and last year I noticed a lot of people outside the hall waiting to get in. That’s when the idea of an active display hit me, it would give these people something to do.”

MacKenzie’s maple products will be featured at a pancake breakfast Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Boisdale fire hall hosted by the Ways and Means Committee.

MacKenzie said what started out as a building project for the carpentry shop at Memorial, quickly became a project for several other shops as well, including welding and electrical.

“It was great learning experience for the students,” he said. “Along with the building, which fits on a flatbed, we built a miniature version of an evaporator, which is the main piece of equipment in the production of maple syrup. The evaporator that does the same as the one in the main sugar shack, but is a lot smaller.”

MacKenzie and his team of family and volunteers will have the sap boiling and people will be able to smell the syrup.

“We’ll be doing taffy on snow or crushed ice depending on the weather. We’ll also have maple butter for people to taste,” he said. “We are going to fill the mobile unit with material from the maple operation. We’ll have a couple of trees with tubing and buckets, people should be able to get a good idea of what’s involved in a maple syrup operation.”

He added that parents can bring their kids along to the breakfast and they can learn about how maple syrup is produced.

MacKenzie said he was luckier than some maple producers on the mainland, who lost their season due to weather.

“We did have some warm weather early on, but we wound up with good conditions and were able to salvage most of the season. We tapped the last of the sap on Friday,” he said. “ The next big task will be to remove the taps and clean and cap the lines.”

Maple syrup tops the list as one of the world's tastiest natural products, with no preservatives or additives.

MacKenzie's operation can produce as much as 2,000-3,000 litres of syrup in a season. About two-thirds of his product is sold to local retailers, with the rest going to large wholesalers.

The Nova Scotia maple industry includes about 36,000 acres of maple trees and 300,000 taps. About 70 commercial maple producers make more than 100,000 litres of maple syrup each year.

source: capebretonpost

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