Editor's note: Each week Dexter Patch will profile a new vendor at the Dexter Farmers' Market.
When it comes to locally produced food, Kelly’s Farm in Dexter runs the gamut, with its wide selection of vegetables, eggs and maple syrup.
Jane Kelly, who can be seen every Tuesday and Saturday on Alpine Street during the , said the family’s maple syrup is one of their more popular items.
“We’ve been making syrup for five years right on our own property,” she said. “Between our yard and a neighbor’s yard, we have 220 taps.”
The syrup itself is produced only during the month of March, when Kelly said temperatures are ideal for harvesting.
“Temperatures have to be above freezing during the day and below freezing at night,” she said.
Because of the short time frame, Kelly employs her husband, John, and the couple’s two sons, Jim and Mike, as well as their grandchildren, to harvest the maple sap.
“It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup and we produce 90 gallons of syrup in March—so you can imagine the work,” she said.
A maple tree needs to be at least 10 inches in diameter, which corresponds with roughly 40 years of growth, before it can be safely tapped to collect the sap. Kelly said trees are tapped using a cordless drill and a small plastic spile—a little tube with a spout on one end. The technique dates back to when American Indians taught European settlers how to gash tress for sap harvesting.
“We collect the sap in the evening and process it on a wood burner outside throughout the night and bottle the syrup the next day,” Kelly said.
The syrup sells for $75 a gallon, $25 a quart, $12 for 12 ounces and $8 for 8 ounces.
“It has a great shelf life and it's locally produced,” Kelly said.
She said though the family sells the syrup only at the farmers’ market, there is never a lull in business.
“We have some pretty loyal customers,” she said.
In addition to the syrup, Kelly said the family also sells free-range eggs and organic produce on top of their landscaping business.
“We will have a variety of produce later as the season continues,” she said. “Every year we hope to have more.”
For more information on the Kelly's Farm, or to visit other local vendors, stop by the Dexter Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays from 3-7 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.