Boardman man whips up success with maple-syrup granola
By Ashley Luthern
Visitors to Rich Berg’s house on Woodrow Avenue can smell his granola before they see it.
Berg, 42, is known in the Mahoning Valley for his maple syrup, but he came to one realization about the business very quickly: “Maple syrup doesn’t sell as fast as maple products.”
Syrup isn’t consumed every day, so it stays on pantry shelves for a long time. Berg’s maple-pumpkin-apple cookies and other maple-based products, however, serve as daily snacks.
It’s his maple-syrup granola — a mixture of hot oats, pecans and syrup with a dash of cranberries — that has received the most attention.
Berg’s granola recently was named a finalist in the The Center for Innovative Food Technology’s Northeast Ohio Signature Food Contest in Akron.
Berg, an insurance agent turned farmer turned entrepreneur, created Pancake Maples syrup about two years ago.
The sap comes from the sugar maple trees on Pancake Tree Farm, a 132-acre plot of forest on Pancake Clarkson Road in Negley. The property was purchased by Berg’s father in 1993.
Berg said he plans to tap 500 of the 1,000 maple trees on the farm this spring — a huge boost from his first year in the business when he tapped 88 trees. It takes 43 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup, he said.
Berg is member of Ohio Proud, which is open to individuals who produce a food or agricultural product that is at least 50 percent grown, raised or processed in Ohio, according to the Ohio Proud website.
A small “Ohio Proud” sticker is on every bag of granola, too.
“I try to buy everything locally,” he said.
Berg has high hopes for his granola in the Northeast Ohio Signature Food Contest. The winning recipes have the potential for large-scale product development, and Berg returns to Akron to learn the results in less than two weeks.
As the farmers’ markets close for winter, Valley residents can still find Berg’s maple products at Sparkle Market on Market Street, Rulli Brothers on South Avenue, Anzevino’s Italian store in Boardman Plaza and Gordy’s in Creekside Plaza.