WHITESBERG, Ky. — All around the state, farmers are working to encourage Kentuckians to help increase maple syrup production in the Commonwealth. In Eastern Kentucky, Seth Long works with his wife to run Southdown Farm, and he said maple syrup production has become one of their passions.
“Now the question everybody asks, "does it hurt the tree?" Well as the maple farmer, I don't want to hurt the tree. That's a long term investment for that little nine inch tree there's probably about 35 years old or so, so you know I don't want to kill my trees,” Long said.
Long and his wife started producing maple syrup a few years ago, starting with just a water jug.
“We had some water jugs, gallon water jugs and we raked it up and collected sap and we made about a quarter cup of maple syrup one year and we said this is really good,” Long said.
Over the years, Long said he has perfected the craft and is helping other farmers in Eastern Kentucky produce, learning the history behind maple syrup in Kentucky.
“Making maple syrup in Kentucky is something that can be done here. In fact there's a long history of making maple syrup in Kentucky the Native Americans made it before we ever got here. But they didn't make maple syrup, they made maple sugar,” Long said.
After the year of COVID-19, Long said many farmers struggled to produce income, and as the President of the Kentucky Maple Syrup Association, he's been working to invite others to his farm to encourage the increase in production in the state.
“Most of those people were not from here they traveled to here to learn about maple syrup and they just didn't stop here they stopped it other Maple producers. Everybody knows of the bourbon trail. We'd like a sticky sweet maple syrup trail in Kentucky so we're really trying to push that,” Long said.
As a farmer, Long said maple syrup production is great for them during the winter time to help generate some income and produce some local goods in the community.
More information about the Kentucky Maple Syrup Association can be found here.