It was a sad weekend for those looking forward to the annual Hartshorn Farm Maple Festival. Normally, festivalgoers would have been able to go to the farm and learn about the boiling process while trying maple snacks of every kind: maple syrup, maple lemonade, maple muffins, maple milkshakes, maple ice cream and even maple pizza. Due the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the event scheduled for April 4 was canceled.
Still, Amy Todisco and Dave Hartshorn haven’t given up on the maple merriment. They plan to host a virtual tour of the maple-syrup-making process, which will include footage of tree drilling, tapping and a tour of the sugaring machinery along with a brief history of maple syrup. The video will be posted on the farm’s Facebook page and website (www.hartshornfarm.com) on Friday, April 10. Maple syrup will be available as a drive-by supplement for those who order it online.
The video will also come with a written instructional curriculum for parents and teachers who want to use the video as a virtual field trip for students. “I wanted to keep the engagement going because I’m all about educating and inspiring people, so if I can keep doing that in some form and people enjoy it, then I feel like I’ve achieved my purpose,” said Todisco.
Apart from the eerie emptiness of the sugarhouse due to the pandemic, the farm is running as normal. “The farm goes on anyway,” said Hartshorn. “For instance, now, part of the day I spend trimming blueberries. There’s 100,000 cuts right there. Then, this afternoon, I’m going to plant carrots. The strawberries will come out in mid-June. That’s when we hope the tourism will start, or we will really be sad!”
For Hartshorn and Todisco, a virtual tour is a way to keep the community engaged until social-distancing sanctions lift and the farm can once again accept visitors. Hartshorn is hoping for a summertime social revival. “We love the physical, social interaction. Let’s hope it will come roaring back in June,” said Hartshorn.