LONG PRAIRIE, MN (April 11, 2011) – There was a time when Covenanters making “home brew” and selling it in pint mason jars would have been frowned upon, but Brian Alnes, the executive director of Lake Beauty Bible Camp, says the money for the latest product will help fund scholarships.
He’s talking about the camp’s new label of maple syrup, however. The camp is selling each pint for $12 in its store.
The camp is making syrup for the first time because of a friendship the camp developed over the years with a neighbor across the lake, Butch Clark. “Butch spent most of his life in this area and has engaged in the art of maple sugaring for nearly all of it,” says Alnes. “Butch does it as a labor of love.”
Clark gives away the syrup to family and friends – the camp has received several pints in recent years.
This past year, Butch asked Alnes if the camp would want to join in the process with him. “With families and staff helping, it would mean being able to tap more trees,” Alnes says.
So far, they have processed 20 gallons of syrup and will be selling the syrup in pint jars at the camp. “It’s been a great learning opportunity for all of us and has allowed us as a staff to do something together outside of the camp with our neighbors, which has been amazing,” Alnes says.
There has been plenty of work to go around. “It takes 30 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup,” Alnes says.
“It is not a highly sophisticated process when you do it, but it is definitely an art,” says Alnes. “The season for tapping the trees begins the first day nearing spring that the temperature rises above 32 degrees. It ends when the buds on the trees break open. That’s when the sap turns.”
Birch trees can start being tapped for syrup about the time the process for maple trees ends. Although the camp won’t be tapping those trees this year, “It might be a creative option for later.”
The camp and its neighbor already are planning to increase the number of maple trees they tap next year.