Ontario producers are taking the concerns of the IMSI, and indeed the Provincial Associations’ concerns about producing quality maple syrup to heart. Over the past 3 months the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers’ Association (OMSPA) has conducted 5 quality assurance workshops across the province that addresses the core principles of making quality maple syrup, applicable to all sizes of operations. Members and non members were invited and turn out has been strong.
The most recent event was held in the central Ontario location of Eganville ( 2 hours North-West of Ottawa) on Feb 20. Close to 70 people showed up to participate in a back to basics discussion about density measurement, proper filtering, bottling and general sanitation tips. An expert panel was convened at the end of the workshop that saw general questions fired at a panel of 5 “experts” for their insights and experience on issues facing most producers, no matter what the size. The panel was cut off at 4:00 at the conclusion the workshop, but it could have gone on for another hour!
Session facilitator Brian Bainborough stated that “it was one of the strongest turn out and participation rate to date. Based on the questions and comments, we were able to cater to the information needs of the people in the room” Ray Bonenberg, the organizer of the event (and also IMSI Director for Ontario) shared “many smaller producers were looking for information that applied to their operations, whether it was a bucket operation or tubing on gravity, to proper low tech filtering, we were able to cover it all”.
There was a strong uptake of producers who newly joined OMSPA that day with an interest in future hands on workshops. The focus of OMSPA continues to be ensuring that high quality maple syrup is made by all producers regardless of membership in the Association or not.