SALEM, N.Y. — “We wanted to do something that wouldn’t take away from our day jobs,” laughed Bob Chambers, one of the owners of Dry Brook Sugar House. “Now with 10,000 taps, it’s bigger than my construction business!”
Dry Brook Sugar House is a family affair, run by Chambers and his brother-in-law, Kevin Keyes. In 1995, Chambers and Keyes started with approximately 2500 taps located around the dairy farm where the sugarhouse is located; the operation has grown substantially from those “hobbyist” beginnings.
“We’re planning to keep growing. Kevin is 54; I’m 63. When I give up doing construction, I’m looking forward to doing maple syrup for my retirement.”
While Maple Weekends (the last two weekends in March) statewide have been canceled due to Covid-19, many producers in the Upper Hudson Region still plan to welcome anyone who wishes to make the trip out to their operations. “We’ll be here if folks want to stop by,” said Chambers. “We have 300 acres that our taps are on, and it’s a pretty neat setup. It’s a really nice wooded area for people to walk through and see sap defying gravity with our lift systems. Our sugarbush is lower than our sugar house, so we use lift systems and vacuum systems to get the sap to the evaporator.”
Chambers explained how social distancing is mandatory for those who want to visit. Dry Brook can accommodate small groups of four to five people at a time in the sugar house, and larger groups can be broken into smaller groups for a visit.
“Last year, we had just installed $120,000 of equipment that we wanted to show to visitors. So, we can’t wait for people to see what we’ve been up to this year.”
In addition to checking out the sugar house, visitors shouldn’t miss the store area at Dry Brook Sugar House. Chambers explained how the Catholic Church in Salem had given him a 200-year-old candy store counter that the farm now keeps set up with a little display, cash register, maple candy, maple cream, and, of course, maple syrup. Chambers said they will also have a syrup stand outside for anyone who doesn’t want to come indoors.
Chambers recommended calling ahead, but hours of operation for the last two weekends in March will be 8-4 at minimum. “If we’re still boiling by then, we may even be here later than that,” he said.
For more information about what Dry Brook Sugar House has to offer, visit drybrooksugarhouse.com or find them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/
–Upper Hudson Maple Producers
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