Meet Your Honorary Lifetime Members

At the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association Winter Institute, earlier this month, Ray and Pam Melander earned the WMSPA Honorary Lifetime Member Award.

The Melanders operate Leafy Grove Maple in Merrill. They got the award for their essential role in the MSPA and maple industry for many years.

Involvement with the maple industry began 20 years ago for Pam and Ray when the spark for a new hobby grew into a lifelong appreciation. They established Leafy Grove Maple in 1997, with the purchase of a 40-acre property in central Wisconsin. The Melanders grew from 200 maple trees in the spring of 1998 to more than 1,350 trees tapped in 2023. Initially, they collected sap with plastic buckets from a local bakery. It involved many labor-intensive hours of collecting and emptying buckets from the trees.

Today, their 1,350 trees are on a custom-built vacuum system similar to a dairy vacuum pump and milk pipeline receiver system to gather the incoming sap. And Ray and Pam are now enjoy sharing the experience with their grandchildren.

Since the beginning of their maple syrup journey, Pam and Ray have been involved with the WMSPA. They’ve continued to make new connections within the industry to learn all they could. Gaining knowledge increased their desire to manage the woods to accommodate healthy trees and increase their number of taps. From building a road system within the woods to installing a gravity-flow system, their operation continued to expand allowing them to sell their sap to other area syrup producers.

Like most maple syrup operations that started small and then grew, Ray and Pam also started
out cooking sap into syrup in an open pan over a wood fire. Today they process the sap into

syrup in their newly-built sugar house using a 2×6’ oil-fired evaporator and then bottle the syrup
in the bottling room. Ray and Pam then sell their pure Wisconsin maple syrup locally.

In 2013 Ray and Pam Melander were honored with the WMSPA Producers of the Year Award. Pam served as the WMSPA Secretary for many years. Ray served as Executive Director and now serves as a director. In 2022, Ray and Pam hosted the WMSPA Annual First Tree Tapping event at Leafy Grove Maple.