Introducing Mill Gap Farms as The Newest Public Sugar Camp in Highland County – Part 2
In Part 1 of this story, Kevin Conner of the newest public sugar camp in Highland County described what visitors can expect from Mill Gap Farms. He continues with why his family moved to the area and why maple syrup time is so special.
Kevin says, “In all honesty, really, the thing that drew us here was God. We wanted a slower pace in life, and we prayed about, and we thought about it, and God led us to this area, and we came out. We found our church, and ever since, we just feel like this is where we need to raise our family. Coming from a metropolitan area like Richmond – Powhatan where we were from and being involved in a lotta great things but also just living there and the busy-ness of life, that became tedious. It wasn’t fun. Life wasn’t fun, so we came out here. We looked in a lotta places around Virginia to live, and, long story short, when we found this area, we weren’t really thinkin’ about maple syrup, not in the least. We knew there was a Maple Festival, and we enjoy maple syrup, but that really wasn’t the draw. The draw for us coming out here was to spend time together as a family. When we think about what it’s like to come out here in this area, or rather, we think about what the rest of the world’s like. You know, we’re kinda in a vacuum here a little bit, a very wonderful bubble, you know, almost like Mayberry, but when you think about living in the city and the rat race that you have to go in to every day and the places you have to go, and, you know, it’s a constant non-stop. The amount of time that we spend with our families is very small. Maple syrup offers us an opportunity to gather around the table and do things collectively as a family, and there’s a lotta sugar camps in this area that use everybody in their family to make it work, and, so, for us, that’s the basis of coming out there and the basis for wanting to be a part of maple syrup is the time that we get to spend with our family. That’s what it’s really all about. Those times that we are going to remember as my kids get older, it’s gonna be sitting around bottling. It’ll be the evaporator on a late night doing evaporation and getting ready for the festival. All of that will be time well spent. In a disconnected world as we are, you know, some folks may think we’re super-connected because you have the internet, you have all these different ways to stay connected, but in reality, we’re pretty disconnected, and as a family, we’re extremely blessed to have what we have. We enjoy sharing it, and most of all, we just enjoy being with each other, and that’s why we do it.
“We wanna share what God’s given to us. We really do, and when folks come out to visit our farm, that’s what they’re gonna get a chance to see. You know, this is a gift. We’re gonna honor Him with our gifts, and the challenge, I think, in the future is how do we continue to do that, you know, above and beyond what we’ve been given, so Airbnb helps us do that. This maple syrup is absolutely a talking point for us just to share our faith, and if folks aren’t terribly interested, we understand that. It’s o.k., but when they come out, they get a chance to see how it’s made, what we’re like, and, hopefully, we’ll become a tradition where people will wanna come out every year and see little changes that we’re makin’ and how we’re gonna better our farm every year.
“This industry, the maple industry, especially in Highland County, we were received with open arms, and, no, we don’t have any family out here, but we’ve got a lotta good friends, and that’s one o’ the things that drew us here to Highland, it’s just the great people that are here.”
Mill Gap Farms plans to be open both days of both weekends of the Highland County Maple Festival, March 9th, 10th, 16th, and 17th as early as people would like to arrive, and they even plan to have maple cotton candy. For more information, people can go online to www.millgapfarms.com , as well as their Facebook Page and YouTube Channel.