A lot of people know East Lyme Zoning Commission Chairman Marc Salerno, but not everyone knows the full extent of his sweet side. During the winter, Salerno spends his weekends making maple syrup.
Salerno knew he had sugar maples on his property when he bought his house and thought it might be fun to try tapping them. Bored one winter's day in 2004, he decided to give it a try. He made about a 1/4 of a gallon of syrup the first year. Then his father-in-law decided to join in, and now it's become an ongoing family affair.
Today, Salerno has 27 trees tapped on his two-acre property next to Scott's Farm Stand in East Lyme. That sounds like a lot but it takes a whole lot of sap to make even a small amount of syrup—from 40 gallons of sap, Salerno gets just 1 gallon of syrup.
Salerno collects sap throughout the week starting the last weekend in January, then spends about three full weekends boiling until the season ends. It's a lot of work but the rewards are undeniably sweet. The syrup Salerno produces is a rich amber with a hint of honey and vanilla that the trees come by naturally.
Salerno doesn't sell his syrup, although he does barter it for other products, such as locally-produced honey and fresh avocados from California. Mostly though, he gives it away to family and friends.
Last year's mild winter didn't make for a good syrup season, Salerno said, yielding just two and a half gallons. With this winter's cold weather, however, Salerno said this could be a banner year for his home-based maple syrup operation.