When you think high school student, you might think about someone sleeping in, cramming for exams or practicing to make a school team. But what about starting a new business? It may not be common, but Justin doesn’t do common.
In grade nine, Justin took his love of spending time on a friend’s maple syrup farm home to his parents. He was sure he could produce high quality maple syrup. Together with the help of 25 maple trees and a neighbour who let Justin borrow an evaporator, ‘Justin’s Maple Syrup’ was born. Eight years later, Justin now taps 500 trees each year, uses a vacuum system to bring the sap to him and has upgraded his evaporator several times. Now, Justin can produce 500 litres of maple syrup and typically sells out.
For Justin, producing a high quality product comes natural. Raised on the family dairy farm, working to care for the land and animals is something he does everyday. “Everyday is different on the farm, and that is one of the things I love about it,” Justin says. “I can go from working out in the fresh winter air gathering sap to make maple syrup, into the dairy barn to feed the cows and milk them. Add in the challenges and the need to be consistently improving and I’m happy to make my career here.”
Working with his parents, Justin is excited about his future in farming. “Farming is what my family has done for generations and I couldn’t be happier that I get to be the 8th generation on our family farm.” You heard him right, 8th generation. Justin’s ancestors started the farm in 1814 and through hard work and a lot of care for the animals they raised and the land they worked, the farm remains an important part of his family’s way of life.
That way of life is another big reason why Justin is a farmer. “I get to work for myself, caring for animals and helping to produce great milk and maple products.”
Justin likes to share his stories from the farm and is a big fan of using social media to help him do that. “Talking about what we do on our farm is important to help consumers realize the work, passion and care that goes into every product that leaves the farm. Whether it be talking about it on Twitter, blogging about it, or even creating a YouTube video, social media is a way that I can reach a customer and they can reach me if they have any questions.”
Justin is looking forward to the years ahead in the dairy barn and in the maple bush. “On the syrup side I look forward to making constant improvements to Justin’s Maple Syrup to make things more efficient and easier to do. On the dairy side, the increasing amount of technology that can be used for record management and even milking makes it an exciting business to be a part of.”