ITHACA, N.Y. – While the air might have been a a bit snowy and bitter, the scene was a sweet one yesterday at Wellspring Forest Farm and School, just over the Tompkins County line on Deer Run Road in Hector. The farm gave tours to show how maple syrup is made, and hosted a farmer’s market as part of the New York State Maple Weekend. Music sailed through the chilly air, pizzas were being blazed in a wood-fired oven, and delicious maple syrup could be had in abundance.

The Voice sent out its resident sugar fiend to pay a visit to the shindig, although he didn’t bring anything back to the office, because he ate it in his car on the way back. At least he brought back plenty of photos below from his Saturday excursion.

This is the first year Wellspring Forest Farm tapped trees using plastic lines. Instead of the traditional metal sap buckets, the internal pressure of the maple trees pushes the sap out and through the tubes at pressures of up to 40 pounds per square inch. Lines are better for the health of the tree, produce more sap for the syrup producer and require less labor. The amount of sap tapped isn’t large enough to hurt the trees, according to farm co-owner and tour guide Steve Gabriel.

The tubes are as high as they are so that Wellspring’s crew can easily walk through the grove to check on their other farm products, shiitake and oyster mushrooms.

The Rusty Oven of Ithaca provided the wood fired pizza. Primitive Pursuits provided outdoor crafts and hot chocolate, and the farmer’s market inside the yurt included local producers Cayuga Sun Farms selling pork and chicken, Finger Likes Cider House, Angus Glen Farm selling beef, Sweet Land Farm CSA sharing info about their veggie CSA, and Ort Family Farms selling maple themed jams, jellies and baked goods.

(All photos by Brian Crandall / The Ithaca Voice)

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at