Roughly 80 members of the Huron Perth Chapter of the Ontario Woodlot Association enjoyed perfect weather and an interesting day at the Chapter’s annual general meeting on April 12th. Hosts were Harold and Aileen Burgin at their Green Arbour Farm, just east of Kirkton. Following the tour, participants travelled to the Kirkton-Woodham Community Hall for a meal and business meeting, followed by a visit to the Heritage Barn Museum maintained by George and Verna Burgin at the south edge of Kirkton.
Harold provided an interesting history of the farm and their activities since purchasing it in 1980. By the early 1900’s much of the natural forest in the area had been cleared for farmland and also to produce firewood to heat nearby homes and power local industry. Somewhat unusual on the Burgin farm is that some of the forest was replaced with a four acre silver maple plantation established in 1928.
Also uncommon is the fact that the Burgin’s have tapped those silver maple trees to produce maple syrup since purchasing the farm. Most maple syrup producers tap hard (sugar or black) maple trees while very few utilize soft (silver or native red) maple. Typically sap from soft maple has a lower sugar content than that from hard maple, but in the Burgin woodlot there doesn’t seem to be that much difference. Harold usually tests the sugar contact of sap several times during the season. His silver maples are usually around 2.5%, while hard maples in an adjacent woodlot that he rents for tapping are about 3%.
Harold also outlined their many other activities including establishing a sugar maple plantation, Christmas tree plantation and windbreaks.