From the North Country to ABC’s Shark Tank: An Interview with Parker’s Maple
We’re proud to support farmers and producers in the Northeast throughout the whole year: When it’s made or grown here, we get it here! We were recently able to speak with Alee Parker at Parker’s Maple in Canton, NY. She was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the company and its delicious maple products!
PC: What is your process for making maple syrup?
AP: When making maple syrup, our process is still the same as it was originally when we first began. We go out, tap the trees, and then when the sap is collected and ready we bring it to the production facility where we have osmosis machines and evaporators.
PC: When is maple season and how long does it typically last?
AP: The best time of year is when it is freezing temperatures at night, and then around 40 degrees and sunny during the day. This occurs around the spring; typically March is prime maple time.
PC: Is tapping the trees harmful to the tree?
AP: We haven’t seen any evidence of it hurting the tree. You do have to be careful that you don’t drill within three inches of where you drilled the year before. We, like all maple farmers, do take special precautionary measures to be cognizant and mindful of where we are drilling. As far as evidence of it hurting the trees, we haven’t seen any, our trees continue to grow bigger and bigger every year!
PC: Do you have any products that would be considered organic?
AP: Yes, our maple cotton candy! Our cotton candy is certified organic.
PC: Do you add anything to your maple syrup?
AP: Our syrup is 100% pure, real maple syrup. Our maple butter is 100% maple syrup with a small preservative added.
PC: What does Parker’s Maple do to stand out?
AP: We’re big on innovation, with a goal of “waking up” the sometimes sleeping maple category. We are innovating by creating products like our maple butter, and rebranding it to fit into the current nut butter craze. Our maple cotton candy is also super unique.
Innovation is a huge part of what we do, and our mission is to educate people about the health benefits of maple syrup as opposed to granulated sugar, brown sugar, and honey. Plus, Josh has a unique story, starting the company with his dad at a very young age, so we like to talk about our story.
PC: What’s your favorite part about working on a maple farm?
AP: The excitement we get from customers and fans! People show up on any given day and we always get calls from people raving about our stuff. It helps all of our employees become excited about what we have going on.
PC: You guys made a pitch on Shark Tank last year. What was it like presenting your brand on national television?
AP: When Josh went on Shark Tank it was nerve-wracking! I think I was more nervous than he was. But he did a great job, and the national exposure we received from it was incredible. The number of orders that came in after the show aired were beyond anything we could have expected. It took us a month to fulfill all of the orders. It was amazing to see our company jump from being a local food company to a national brand overnight.
PC: What’s your favorite thing about Price Chopper?
AP: The people! The employees at our local Canton NY store are always so friendly and helpful. Plus, Price Chopper holds value to supporting local farmers and producers like us, which we’re very thankful for.
Props to Alee Parker for taking the time to chat with us! We pride ourselves on being able to offer local products in our stores, and that would not be possible without folks like Parker’s Maple. We’ll be sampling their syrup in the stores below – if you’re in the area stop by for a home.grown. taste!
Western Lights Syracuse Price Chopper, 11/10 12:30-6:30pm
East Greenbush Market 32, 11/10 12:30-6:30pm
Genesee Street Utica Price Chopper, 11/11 10am-4pm
Brunswick Market 32, 11/11 10am-4pm
Glenville Market 32, 11/11 10am-4pm
Hudson Valley Plaza Market 32, 11/11 10am-4pm
Clay Price Chopper, 11/11 10am-4pm
Cicero Price Chopper, 11/11 10am-4pm
Clifton Park Plaza Market 32, 11/11 10am-4pm
Clifton Shoppers World Market 32, 11/12 10am-4pm Written by Tyler BlanceProduce Merchandising Intern
Price Chopper has been buying from local growers for over 75 years. Currently, we do business with over 70 local growers; some deliver to our warehouse, some deliver directly to our stores. An important part of our locally grown program is Price Chopper’s involvement with 4H, a youth development organization that gives children the opportunity to grow and sell fresh produce in their communities. The Golub family has been supporting 4H groups since 1965. Children who belong to 4H can plant, grow, and sell their produce in our stores. Locally grown 2012 has been off to a great start this year. I’ve journeyed out to three local farms so far:
Each farm has been an important part of our locally grown program each summer and fall. Shaul Farms, located right outside of Middleburgh, NY, has been working with Price Chopper since 1985. Back then, Dave and Jim Shaul would load up a pickup truck of straight-from-the-ground produce and head over to our Cobleskill, NY store (after a days work on the farm was completed) and bring in their fresh crops. These days, Shaul Farms supplies a number of Price Choppers all around the Capital District and Oneonta. Currently the farm is shipping lettuce to our stores, so keep an eye out for locally grown Shaul Farms lettuce!
Davandjer Farms in Pine Island NY started with a simple 10 acre plot of land. The farm has grown into a much larger operation; currently they have around 190 acres of crops! Andrew Gurda (owner) and his team supply Price Chopper with onions, although some stores carry his lettuce and baby red potatoes. Look for the greyhound label on certain onion bags; it’s from Andrew and his farm! In addition to being an established local grower, Andrew supports and donates to Produce for Kids
Farmer Dave Shaul with his lettuce and summer squash!
: an organization that encourages healthy eating among kids and families.
Paul Mazza Farms in Colchester Vermont has been in Price Chopper’s locally grown program for ten years. Paul Mazza (owner) has been farming on his own for 27 years: starting with 20 acres and growing his farm to 250 acres! Currently, Mazza Farms supplies Vermont area stores with fresh, delicious strawberries. “Vermont strawberries have more taste than Florida or California berries. There’s nothing like Vermont strawberries!” Mazza confidently claims.
Price Chopper’s locally grown program will continue to run all throughout the summer. Local farmers have been working hard to provide people with fresh, flavorful produce, so enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor! I will continue to update you on locally grown happenings, so check back to see what’s growing on near you!
Farmer Paul Mazza and his daughter displaying his juicy strawberries!