It takes a lot of hard work to harvest sap across 160 forested acres, craft it all into syrup, process it into a delicious line of gourmet products, package it, bring it to market, and build relationships with commercial customers ranging from local Sobeys and Safeway to small gift shops and local museums, not to mention haul it all to handmade markets and craft shows across the country 6 months of the year. Scratch that! It takes a lot of hard work, tenacity, perseverance, determination and downright faith to accomplish the goals they have set for themselves and their business. While this is not unlike the challenges many entrepreneurs face, Glenda and Rory Hart have endured longer than many in an agricultural industry where mother nature has as much influence over their success as the customer.
A decade-long tenure as producers of premium Birch Syrup has been marked by accomplishments such as top medals in food competitions, The Great Manitoba Food Fight (2013), Product of the Year Canada (2015), and The Manitoba Taste Awards (2015). Other “firsts” include being the first Canadian Birch Syrup producer to come to market with their signature pure Gold Birch Syrup and creative award winning products like Birch Bacon Jam and Birch Whiskey Toffee Sauce that have become local product icons. In 2017, Food and Beverage Manitoba recognized these accomplishments (of the Canadian Birch Company) with the Harvest of Excellence Innovation Award.
Along with their successes, there have been the inevitable years marred with steep challenges such as the year where much of the sap spoiled due to high seasonal temperatures causing multiple pails to turn solid with an over-concentration of what the industry calls "sugar sand". Or the year where the usual 3 week season was over in 10 days. Then there were the years where high winds felled so many trees that most of the 500+ lines had to be mended in the dead cold of the Manitoba winter in order to save the sapping season. All of these experiences were where the hard learning took place, and while difficult, have only made them better at what they do.
Through it all, they have not let hardship or success change who they are. They remain the same happy- go-lucky couple who don't take life too seriously, but who have always had high standards for their products and themselves in terms of how they conduct business. Their initial mission of producing high quality, premium birch food products, while observing sustainable forestry practices, has never waned.
Their philosophy is simple. Use quality ingredients, don't cut corners with cheap alternatives, preservatives or flavor enhancers. They use real butter, real bacon, in their gourmet line and use only the best state of the art Birch Syrup manufacturing methods. This approach has afforded them the opportunity to proudly stand by their premium syrup which is the basis of their entire business. Perhaps it is their pragmatic nature that enables them to rise above the challenges, but it is definitely their commitment to quality and responsible practices, that places them in a unique position of being an excellent crafter, business partner and supplier. This genuine and down to earth couple know that if they can help their customers succeed, their own success will naturally follow.
As a fledgling business in 2012, sap was collected in pails, making it difficult to tap trees at the level of volume required to make a profitable business. This labor-heavy method was not sustainable, so Glenda and Rory sought expertise from the maple industry to set up a vacuum assist system outfitting a good portion of their forest with sap collection lines. This decision not only made it possible to tap more trees with less time and manpower but made it possible to move forward with the season even in 2020’s Covid 19 shutdown when a scaled down crew of family members and a close friend were able to bring in the sap while isolating in the forest.
Making syrup is one thing, marketing it is a whole other challenge. In 2014, packed to the gills with great tasting birch syrup, Glenda headed across country to the Delicious Food Show in Toronto. With a new website, the new gold birch syrup and recipes ideas to sample with customers, she and her sisters did sell syrup but customer feedback made it clear that many more were interested in buying the recipe they were sampling. And so the gourmet line of products was born. This began the craft show and farmer’s market journey - a combination of sales and marketing from Ontario to Alberta. Through out this journey grew a retail and wholesale business and a small online presence.
Then 2020 came bringing new challenges for everyone. Rory and Glenda’s answer to that challenge - “Expand our product line and our online store!
There is a whole new energy and excitement here at The Canadian Birch Company. We welcome customers, old and new, to a fabulous shopping experience!
Find out about the production process and manufacturing methods of The CANADIAN BIRCH COMPANY,