Drewry Farms Inc. is a family held corporation established by Dave and Ruth who gifted shares among the family and awarded some for "sweat equity.... "We're very family oriented," Barbara says. A reunion is held every three years, the last noting 160 years of the family in Wisconsin. So it was a family decision last year, after a successful experiment with suspended collection lines, to double the number of taps. Barbara's dad was among the earliest to use collection lines but they were laid on the ground. Buckets and bags hanging from trees are used today for demonstrations to tour groups.
The expansion and technology advances actually began in 2008 after a fire destroyed the syrup house. "We were kind of at a crossroads," Barbara says. "Mom and Dad were not able to do as much. I'd been getting more involved. We made the decision we'd continue but decided we were behind in technology and needed to make some changes." In 2009, they rebuilt the syrup house and installed the first suspended collection lines. The only drawback they found was a need to constantly monitor against deer nibbling and squirrel chewing. They found used equipment from a Door County operation that was going out of business and paid for it with the insurance proceeds from the fire.
"That first year was absolutely great with the new technology," Barbara says. "It far outdid the old, so we were convinced." So in 2010 they replaced all of the old ground-level collection lines in their two sugar bushes, increased from 500 taps to 2,000 and saw a 1,200-gallon syrup yield. This year they've added 2,000 more taps and are looking for 2,000-plus gallons of syrup, though on some of those really cold March days when temperatures dropped below 25 degrees the pumps had to be shut down.
Visitors are welcome at Drewry Farms. There's an open house in late March each year, considered a huge success this year with more than 600 visitors, and lots of school and other tour groups stop in.
Their syrup is sold at "a lot of farmers' markets," Barbara says, and at health food stores in Milwaukee and Sheboygan. "A couple co-ops in Milwaukee buy our syrup to use in restaurants." Both the American Club at Kohler and the Osthoff Resort at Elkhart Lake use Drewry Farms maple syrup in their restaurants.
Barbara says the operation is "medium large. We think we are the farthest-south licensed producer in Wisconsin."
Buchholz lives in Fond du Lac.