Maple

Tapping Into Spring With Maple Sugar Farmers

Apr 14, 2015

As soon as the winter season comes to a close, maple sugar farmers are out the door with buckets and tubing equipment harvesting sap from their local area.

WAMC/Pat Bradley

Warm days and cold nights are supposed to ease us into spring: slowly melt the snow and ice and let the crocuses burst into bloom.  The warm and cold cycle also triggers the sap run in maple trees and the start of sugaring season in the Northeast.  

It’s a sure sign of spring when the trees are tapped.  “There’s a little sap so we’ve got to get the spout in.”

And the sap flows into sugarhouses where evaporators get fired up to boil a sweet spring treat.
It’s maple season in the North Country.

WAMC/Pat Bradley

Two large maple syrup producers are setting up operations in the Northeastern Vermont community of Island Pond.

  This coming Saturday, March 7th, The Ashokan Center in Olive Bridge, NY will host their family friendly Maple Fest!

The sugaring tradition goes back to the original Native populations of New York who eventually taught it to European settlers. Maple sugaring season in the Northeast typically begins in mid-February, and lasts through early April.

Tim Neu has been operating the maple sugaring program at the Ashokan Center in Olivebridge, NY for 35 years as part of their Environmental Education Program.

WAMC/Pat Bradley

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is adopting new grading standards for maple syrup to match international standards. Maple producers say it’s needed so that consumers have a better understanding of what they are buying.

WAMC/Pat Bradley

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is revising the grading standards for maple syrup to match international standards so that consumers have a better understanding of what they are buying.

WAMC/Pat Bradley

New York State has edged out Maine to keep its spot as the nation's second biggest producer of maple syrup.

   Berkshire Grown supports and promotes local agriculture as a vital part of the Berkshire community, economy, and landscape. They are the “go to” network linking farmers and the Berkshire community; through events, workshops, promotions, advocacy, and education highlighting locally grown and produced food.

This year’s Berkshire Grown March Maple Dinner will take place on March 24 at Cranwell Resort in Lenox, MA. Area chefs will celebrate the first harvest of the season with a five-course dinner created using maple products from regional maple producers.

Here to tell us more about Barbara Zheutlin, the Executive Director of Berkshire Grown and Melissa Leab from Ioka Valley Farm.

   The Sugarmaker’s Companion is the first guide of its kind addressing the small-and large-scale syrup producer seeking to make a profitable business from maple, birch, and walnut sap.

This book incorporates valuable information on ecological forest management, value-added products, and the most up-to-date techniques on sap collection and processing. It also looks at an integrated sugaring operation, interconnected to the whole-farm system, woodland, and community.

Cornell University operates a maple research forest in Lake Placid. The manager of that sugarbush, Michael Farrell, has written a new book: The Sugarmaker’s Companion: An Integrated Approach to Producing Syrup from Maple, Birch and Walnut Trees looking at the management and economics of sugaring.

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