COVID-19 restrictions affecting business for maple producers

Coronavirus Local Impact

WESTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – It goes perfect with pancakes and all this month, maple syrup is being served fresh at Steve’s Sugar Shack, which their owner didn’t anticipate would become so popular.

“When I turned 18 I had the dream of having a sugarhouse where people could figure out how to make maple syrup, but what it morphed into was a lot more than I thought,” said Steve Holt, owner of Steve’s Sugar Shack.

This sugarhouse is a tourist attraction, but it also has plenty of regulars. To keep the crowds at bay, reservations are required.

“We come every weekend that its open,” said Bill Trusswell of Westhampton. “One of the things is that it is always very crowded, it’s so popular here they do so a great job, and this year they have to abide by the rules.”

At the sugarhouse, it’s a different experience this year for customers. Parties are separated with plexiglass barriers and their popular maple syrup is being served in cups. The restrictions are only putting a small damper on Steve’s mission; bringing the community together.

“During the pandemic, it’s nice to have everyone come together and smile and laugh, despite the plexiglass that divides us,” said Tim Korytoski, Chef at Steve’s Sugar Shack. “It’s more of a joy than it is a job.”

Governor Baker declared March to be Maple Month. For local maple producers like Steve, it’s much needed attention.

“It exposes the public to the fact that we are still out here making maple syrup,” said Steve Holt. “That hasn’t changed with us making it, but how we deliver it has.”

So far, the colder weather has limited production of maple syrup. Steve’s Sugar Shack has made 73 gallons of maple syrup, which is far less than the 200 they had this time last year.

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