GARNAVILLO – The Independence Garden Club toured Great River Maple, located at 217 Clay Brick Lane, Garnavillo, Iowa, on October 22, 2019. Dan Potter and his wife Dorinda shared their story of starting Great River Maple on Dan’s family farm.
He described how his grandfather gathered and processed maple sap many years ago. He explained the reason there were over 8,500 maple trees on his property, of which he taps 7,550. From the 1840s to the 1860s, loggers harvested trees in Northeast Iowa. At first they not only harvested oak and other hardwoods, but also maple. The men who rode the logs down the rivers soon discovered that maple trees soaked up the river water, causing them to sink when the loggers stepped on them. After losing many men, who fell through the swiftly moving logs and drowned, maples trees were no longer cut for lumber.
After a while, it seemed for every oak that was cut, 500 maples replaced it. Maple trees flourished in the clay soil on the hills surrounding the farm – thus, the abundance of maple trees!
Dan and Dorinda, their daughters and families, as well as Ky Widmer, have improved the process of making an organic maple syrup and other products that are truly delicious. Dorinda’s banana nut bread was the perfect complement to tasting all of the maple products available!
The public is invited to attend the sugar bush party that is held annually on the farm.