Francis Mathieu must not have a lot of free time. In addition to running his own sugar bush, this young man is the administrator of the Estrie region and teaches maple production part-time at Maison familiale rurale du Granit vocational school. And he’s the daddy of 2 boys, aged 2 and 4!
maple was not part of the plan
Francis was a teenager studying forestry at Maison familiale rurale du Granit in St. Romain when his life took an interesting turn…toward maple production. “My dad had a tiny stand of maple trees, just 200 taps, but it was just for fun! I never thought I’d earn a living from it,” he says. After earning his diploma, he dove into the deep end. “In 2009, when I was 18, I bought myself a maple stand of 10,500 taps. When you’re young, I guess you just go for it,” he chuckles. The laugh is not just of good humour, but joy as well.
Production now comes out of 16,000 taps for bulk syrup and, 3 years ago, they went organic. “My installations are fairly standard, except that our pumping stations are underground. That keeps the sap at a temperature of 3 degrees, improving quality on warmer days.” Francis has his dad and 3 part-time employees come in to help at sugaring time.
wanting to do more
In 2012, Francis got involved with the regional organization. “I went to some meetings and noticed the average age of people at them was rather high,” he says. He rolled up his sleeves and volunteered as a regional delegate, giving him voting rights at the QMSP annual general meeting. From there, he took on the role of administrator for the region and is now in his second term. Francis thinks it’s essential for the next generation to lend its voice to discussions about the future of production and wants to see more young producers like him at meetings, sharing their ideas.
“Our realities are different, especially when it comes to business debt. We have to give time and effort, and let our opinions be known.”