Entrepreneur Spotlight: Grandpa Joe's Sugar House

One of my favorite entreprenuers (and dear friend) is living the sweet life. Literally.

Ben McKenney and his family—owners of Grandpa Joes' Sugar House in North Baldwin, Maine—are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their maple syrup farm this weekend. What started out as a science fair project in 1986, became a career and a lifestyle for Ben, Jen, and their grown daughter, Cassidy, and younger daughters, Emma (age 10), and Myla (age 4),   Ben's start-up story is unique, and well, as sweet as they come..... 

...In 1986, I did a science project on how to make maple syrup.  I won the Baldwin School Science Fair.  Shortly thereafter, my father, Steven, and I started making maple syrup in our front yard with a homemade barrel evaporator that he built.  It was made from an old barrel and scraps of metal left over from the farm.  

I saved up money from washing dishes at a diner in the summer of 1993,  and purchased a used 2×6 Leader evaporator with English tin pans....


Fast forward 25 years, and I'm pretty sure you can't go anywhere in Maine this weekend without hearing about Maine Maple Sunday—local celebrations across the state honoring all things maple. It's a big weekend for my dear friends and one that takes quite a bit of planning and preparation. Jen has been busy making all of the homemade ice cream, candy, Needhams, and other maple treats while Ben handles the maple syrup production and organizes the event's food, music, and contest. Their girls play the part of, as Ben says, "the quality control team."

Here are all the details you'll need to know if you plan on heading over to Grandpa Joe's this weekend:

If you aren't local, you can order Grandpa Joe's maple online! It's truly the best maple syrup in the US.