GREENWOOD — With the fourth weekend in March comes “Maine Maple Sunday, a celebration of Maine’s famous maple syrup, and lots of it. Sugar houses in all parts of the state open their doors so people can taste their freshly made syrup and other treats.

Brian and Suzanne Dunham of Velvet Hollow Sugar Works at Dunham Farm have been gearing up for the weekend for a while. This Sunday, their sugar house will be one of the more than 90 participating. The duo opted to stretch the day into a weekend in 2016, with the house being open on both Saturday and Sunday. Both days they will offer breakfast from 8 to 12 p.m. and lunch from 1 to 3 p.m. Breakfast includes gluten free blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon and beverages, while lunch is gluten free cornbread and  barbecue maple turkey chili.

This is the eighth year the Dunham’s have been a part of the tradition.

Dunham at work in his sugar house. Photo courtesy of Dunham Farm

“I think people like the adventure — we’re off the beaten path,” Suzanne said of the location.

The close to 200-acre farm tucked away in the woods of Greenwood has been in the Dunham family for more than a century.

Growing up Brian made syrup for his family. He would tap the trees on his land and then collect the sap in buckets. However, he went on a 40-year hiatus and did not return to tapping trees until 2011.

In 2012, he built the first part of the sugar house and kitchen, and has since made additions to the building, which included expanding the kitchen space last summer.

The duo operates a gluten-free, commercial kitchen in their sugar house. They are syrup producers, beekeepers and do sawmill work.

“We have over 1,500 gallons of sap storage so we can boil, this year we have gone to a reverse osmosis to take more of the water out of the sap so we don’t have to burn so much wood to cut down on the hours of boiling,” Brian said. “It doesn’t change the quality, it doesn’t change the taste it just takes a lot out of the sap and leaves all the goodness of it.”

The Dunham’s farm has 500 taps, and close to 500 trees. In early February, they tapped all the trees.

The focus lately has been dedicated to the farm’s syrup production lately, which has kept them busy.

“I’ve been out in the woods so many times in the last month in and a half just shoveling out my lines that are four to five feet in the air,” Brian said. “You have to keep everything cleared out.”

Brian said snow accumulation can dictate how long it takes him to tap his trees. Some Februaries when there’s less than a foot of snow he can do all his taps in under eight hours. This year was different story. Even with snowshoes on, he found himself buried to the knees. It took him 20 hours to finish.

He said they boil about 50-55 gallons of sap an hour.

Brian said much of the work involving syrup production extends into the summertime.

“It’s a lot of work in the summertime just maintaining the tubing,” he said.

Strong winds have proved to make this winter a challenging one, knocking over many trees near the tubing, which runs through the woods.

The sap line runs about 12 feet over a snowmobile trail nearby, so they can drive through. In past years snowmobilers have showed up to indulge in the maple treats.

The farm no longer uses plastic as maple syrup containers. Glass bottles are used and the farm recently started using metal containers also.

The Dunhams also set up a table at the Greenwood Farmer’s Market frequently.

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