The New York State Grown & Certified program makes it easy for consumers to identify local, safely-handled, and environmentally responsible agricultural products. This voluntary program is a cooperative effort among producers, processors, wholesalers, retailers, restaurants, and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to meet consumer demand for high-quality food and agricultural products.
As winter transitions to spring, one of our state’s signature flavors makes its way from trees to our tables. In March, we welcome maple, the first – and sweetest – agricultural crop of the year. With more than 2,000 maple sugar producers, New York State ranks second in maple production and hosts the largest resource of tappable maple trees in the United States. These trees – and the sugar makers that tend to them – will be the stars of Maple Weekends coming up later this month.
One of those sugar makers, New York State Grown & Certified Zimpfer’s Maple Products, has been in the maple business for 50 years. Established in 1973 in West Seneca (Erie County), the farm started as a hobby with just two taps and one maple tree.
“My father just wanted to show me how to make maple syrup,” said Greg Zimpfer, owner of Zimpfer’s Maple Products. “I thought it was fun, and I just kept doing it. Every year, it got a little bit bigger.”
That first year, the Zimpfers produced just one quart of maple syrup. Every year, they added more taps. In 1978, Zimpfer Maple Products achieved its first “Maple milestone” when it started to sell pure maple syrup. In 1996, the Zimpfers ran out of trees to tap – at 375 – and moved the operation to its current location in Attica (Wyoming County). Today, Greg Zimpfer’s farm features 700 taps with 550 on vacuum, which refers to a low-pressure system designed to help expedite the maple extraction process. The farm has grown to produce up to 250 gallons of maple syrup each year.
While maple syrup tapping season is steadiest in March, it typically begins in early February, and runs through early April, depending on the weather. For Greg, the ideal syrup extraction time is when temperatures are steady around 42 to 44 degrees during the day, and 28 at night.
After the sap is extracted from the trees, it gets boiled in stainless steel tanks until an important maple metric is reached. “When syrup is first extracted, it is 2% sugar. We boil the syrup until it becomes 55% sugar,” says Greg. From here, the syrup is bottled.
Greg, who also serves as President of the Western New York Maple Producers Association, is one of 80 maple producers across the state who participate in the NYS Grown & Certified program. He has been involved since the program’s inception. As a Grown & Certified producer, Greg follows high food safety and environmental standards. Having the Grown & Certified label on his products shows shoppers that they can trust that the products are locally and responsibly grown.
“It lets people know that this is a local product, produced by a real person, not from a chain store,” said Greg.
Greg also uses maple sugar to create specialty products including fudge, team, hard candy, cotton candy, mustard, hot sauce, coffee, pancake mix and even dog biscuits. There’s also a maple sugar body scrub, which was only introduced a few years ago as a suggestion from Greg’s sister.
All of these products – and more – can be purchased at Zimpfer’s Maple Products. Located at 3028 Merle Road, the store is open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Later this month, Zimpfer’s Maple Products will join 150 other maple sugar makers to present Maple Weekends. On March 18 and 19, and March 25 and 26, maple farms across the state will welcome visitors, inviting them to taste pure maple syrup right from the source, partake in pancake breakfasts, and take tours, experiencing firsthand what it’s like to make maple syrup.
In 2022, New York maple producers produced a record 845,000 gallons of maple syrup, and are looking forward to an equally productive year in 2023.
New York State’s agriculture industry is one of our great assets and keeping it growing and thriving is one of the most important things we can do. When you see products with the New York State Grown & Certified seal, you are assured that it comes from a local farm that adheres to high food safety standards and environmentally responsible practices.
Participating in New York State Grown & Certified tells consumers that you adhere to higher standards in terms of food safety and environmental stewardship, making consumers more likely to purchase your products.
Meet your customers’ growing demand for foods that are locally grown and produced with higher standards. Whether you are a grocery retailer or a restaurant in New York State, it’s easy to connect with New York State Grown & Certified growers and producers.
New York City restaurants demand incredible, locally grown ingredients. With the New York State Grown & Certified program they can be confident that the products they purchase and serve are locally grown and produced to a higher standard.
As a farmer in New York State its really, really wonderful to be part of the NYS Grown & Certified program. As a member of the NYS Grown & Certified family, one of the things we’re most concerned about is getting the best – the best soil, the best seeds, the best practices to you and your family, delivering the most quality nutrition we can.
Because we are New Yorkers and growing food for New Yorkers, it’s increasingly in demand, with the movement of consumers, to want hyper local food. We have recently had retailers ask us to add the NYS Grown & Certified certification to our labels because they are increasingly hearing from their own shoppers that they want local products.
…The New York State Restaurant Association proudly supports New York State's new initiative—New York State Grown & Certified—so consumers can feel more confident about what they eat and where they are eating, and to provide a real benefit to New York State’s food industry.