Baer Bros Maple Camp is owned by Sherry and Mike Lynch of Somerset, PA. It is a local family owned and operated maple operation that with the help of many family members and friends boils sap each season from over 4000 taps.
The Lynchs’ bought Baer Bros Maple from George and Bonnie Baer on the last days of 2009, and proceeded to have one of the worst seasons on record for the operation following the extreme winter and snow in the woods. The Baer family has been boiling Maple for nearly a hundred years, starting on their home farm around 1919 when George’s parents bought their farm, at that time nearly everyone had a maple camp. In the early 1970’s George and Bonnie purchased the farm with the current maple operation from Harvey Beabes, whom bought it in 1938( most likely having some type of small maple camp situated on it going back to the early 1900’s). Mikes’ grandfather Donald Welch assisted Harvey and later George in gathering buckets, first by horse then tractor in the current maple woods. He also helped one of Georges brothers Bob, cut oak for mines during the winter from the same forest. Later, Mike’s father Gary would assist as would many other neighbors and farmers as George tapped only using buckets, sometimes numbering up to 4000plus buckets.
Somewhere around this time is when Mike began to become Georges “understudy”, he spent many years as a kid following George around. Mike, his brother Andy and neighbors would head to the camp after school, weekend, whenever , they could get there. Usually the buckets were too large to gather for them. Eventually Mike began gathering trees around the house and farm, buying line and with George and Dave Baers help tapping a small woods. He began selling his sap to George because his small flat pans wouldn’t keep up.
The Lynch’s continued throughout the years helping when George called, in 1995, George built a new camp, in 1996 The Lynchs’ went more into dairying. Years later everything changed, Mike and his wife Sherry were offered the chance to purchase the Maple operation in 2009.
Since 2009, The Lynchs updated all of the 4000+ taps that were currently on gravity lines to a new wet dry system with a total of 3100 taps on vaccum for the 2012 season, all running to the main maple camp. Also in 2012, 700-800 buckets were still used for road trees, a rented woods, and trees the kids,(Cody and Reagan). In 2013 a majority of the buckets will be replace with a new system of pipeline, still there will be some buckets, there are those that have to gather some buckets. Countless hours were spent redoing each woods, Cody 12 and Reagan 9 can most likely give you the layout of each woods, how to put everything together, how to fix it. Gone are the 7/16”size spiles, now they use all ¼” and 5/16” taps made of polycarbonate, replaced each year. They use an old wood fire 6×16 evaporator that gets the job done, but is backed up by a modern day Reverse Osmosis Machine that removes around 75% or more of the water before the sap is boiled. Most of the newer equipment and tubing is from Lapierre USA, a brand that the Lynchs’ sell.
During maple season, they can be found somewhere around their Maple camp or Maple orchard near Geiger, either boiling, checking lines, or gathering. Also many weekends you might find the help gathered around as they make spotza for the neighbors , friends, and kids. Usually Lynn Baer helps with making sugar and treats for weekends and special occasions, just as it was when they all grew up, continuing their tradition.
The Lynch family of Somerset Township received the Maple King Award from Dr. Albert P. Barnett, (center), representing the Somerset Rotary Club, the award sponsor, during the Maple Producers’ Banquet in Sipesville