Blue Rock Maple Farm

September 23, 2012 |

Don Olson produces maple syrup on his 75-acre farm.

At 7 a.m. the air around the farm in Blue Rock, W.Va. is filled with a sweet aroma. The scent comes from the small 27 by 21 feet sugarhouse where Olson is already sitting, preparing for the day’s syrup production.

The Olsons’ Blue Rock Farm in southern Randolph County is one of only seven maple syrup producers in the state according to the WV Department of Agriculture and was the first to become certified organic.

A maze of hundreds of tubes, connected to Olson’s 75 acres of maple trees, feeds up to 750 gallons of sap into a holding tank near the sugarhouse. Olson will spend two to three months from mid-February to mid-march working on the syrup. Depending on what the trees do, Olson can be working throughout the night in his small sugarhouse until as late as 3 a.m.

Don Olson and his wife, Linda Zimmer, work together to pour maple syrup into 35-gallon drums for storage until they begin the bottling process.

“I’m working for the maples and they tell me what to do when,” he said.

The idea of starting a business came up several years ago while Olson was out one afternoon working on his maple trees. After discussing it with his wife, Linda Zimmer, they decided to make a go of it.

“We had been talking about it for a couple of years, she was all in favor of it,” Olson said. “She was totally enthusiastic about it and still is.”

Linda is a creative arts specialist at a local nursing home, but acts as the Blue Rock Farm business manager, making daily phone calls and sales. She also helps out during the tedious process of bottling the syrup.

Kaila St. Louis and Linda Zimmer serve samples of Blue Rock Maple syrup during the annual Pickens Maple Syrup Festival.

“I was new to understanding all of it. He’d (Don) been really nurturing the trees, and the more I read about it, the more I was just intrigued by the process,” she said. “We’d been looking at other sources of income, and I began to think about marketing possibilities.”

The first season Olson and his wife cooked syrup, they produced 125 gallons and the following season they made just 90 gallons. This season Blue Rock Farm produced 350 gallons of the sweet maple syrup.

“This year we got all the equipment working right and had good weather for it. Put those two together and we were making some serious syrup,” Olson said.

Olson and three of his friends spent a full day earlier this year wading through snow with cordless drills and tubes drilling and tapping nearly 1,500 maple trees.

Even though the process is tiring and hundreds of gallons are made each year, Olson has an uncanny desire for the syrup he produces and hopes to keep the business alive for several years to come.

“I can’t seem to get tired of the stuff,” Olson said.

The video, “How Sweet it is”, by Paul King, can be viewed here.


Tags: , , ,

Category: Elkins to Marlinton

Comments are closed.