Mill Gap Farms: Virginia’s first and only maple syrup producer certified USDA organic
HIGHLAND Co., Va. (WDBJ) - Way up in Highland County is Mill Gap Farms, where one man operates a big machine used to make organic maple syrup.
“You utilize a lot of technology to make it a little bit easier. In making the syrup and controlling certain variables. Do you hear that? That’s water coming in. That’s pretty cool,” said Kevin Conner the owner of Mill Gap Farms.
The water you may hear coming from his machines comes from about 60 acres of ‘bush’ or maple trees that produce sugar water.
“That’s where we collect the water from the trees. Here on this farm. We don’t move water and that’s pretty important to me. That is less energy that we have to do. So we don’t normally move water. It comes off the mountain it comes into the end of this big tank,” said Conner.
Here’s how they do it. It’ll all begins by tapping the maple trees on a mountain.
“The later we start, the harder it’s going to be because we’re starting to get into the window of tapping and then looking for leaks and then trying to make syrup. So, the earlier we can begin the process, the better,” said Conner.
The tapped trees are then all connected by a system of blue lines that feeds the sugar water into a large tank. Conner can keep track of this process through a digital monitoring system.
“The big shiny thing behind me, that’s the constant flow evaporator, so that when we begin to put our sweet water in it that we have concentrated we can then begin making syrup a rather short order and continue to make syrup as long as we have an input. We make syrup directly off that machine,” said Conner.
“In a given season, we should be able to make anywhere between 500 -700 gallons of syrup,” said Conner.
The syrup is then prepped to be bottled and distributed all across Virginia.
“Ours is USDA organic. And it comes from this farm and only this farm,” said Conner.
Conner says his family believes in the little, but big message on the back of each of their bottles.
“Why we do what we do. It isn’t about making syrup. It isn’t about sharing the farm. It’s sharing the blessings that we’ve been given with other people,” said Conner.
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