Luce’s saphouse preserves Maine’s heritage

Every year many of the locals from this area venture out to Pease Hill here in Anson to visit Luce’s Saphouse.  This year, the 30th annual Maine Maple Sunday was no different.

luce's saphouse from the roadpure maple syrupIn 2011 Maine produced some 360,000 gallons of maple syrup from 1.47 million taps.  According to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, that’s a 14% increase from 2010.  The latest figures indicate that the maple sugaring industry generated $13 million in annual revenue for Maine.

elaine luce

Elaine Luce hosts a table overflowing with maple-goodies, Luce’s specialty meat-seasonings, and of course, maple syrup.

Luce’s Saphouse is an agricultural business owned and operated by Arnold and Elaine Luce.  Elaine, who is also Anson’s local post-master, told me that 7 generations have descended from Charles Luce who immigrated to New Vineyard in 1795 from Martha’s Vineyard.  According to Arnold, the Luce’s came to Anson in 1860, and they’ve been here ever since.  The family has been making maple syrup since 1795, and are locally known for not only their syrup, but also their locally raised meats.  Read more about the history of New Vineyard and the Luces here and here.

This was the first time our kids had been able to see a saphouse in action.  We toured the facilities, observed the vat of boiling sap and the clouds of steam billowing up out of the saphouse.

traditional maple sap bucket

Keith explains the equipment to the Burns boys.

The boys each sampled maple rice-crispy treats, and peaked into one of the traditional-style sap buckets to see the sap that the maple trees produced.  I pointed out the tubing running from tree to tree along the road, and explained how modern sap collection has largely replaced the bucket-based system (read more about modern maple sugaring methods here).

Maple sugaring is a New England tradition prized by Mainers.  It’s inspiring to see a family with such a long-standing history, supporting themselves and their community with their agricultural endeavors.

maple syup prize

The Burns boys are pleased with their prize–and I already know what we’re having for dinner tonight!

If you have a memory involving maple sugaring I invite you to share it here with our readers!

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