Sunday, March 16, 2014

North Country Radio - Canton teen is young maple syrup entrepreneur

Canton teen is young maple syrup entrepreneur            
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Joshua Parker doesn't have his driver's license yet, but he's a young maple syrup entrepreneur with big plans. At 16, he's one of the country's youngest maple producers.

Joshua catches rides with his dad and neighbors to check the taps in his sugar bush. And even though he relies on advice from more experienced maple producers, he's the boss and owner of Parker Maple Farm, near Canton. Five years ago, he started tapping sap with 10 buckets, as a hobby. Last year, he got serious and installed a tubing system with 3,500 taps. He created a business plan, borrowed money for state-of-the-art equipment (with help from his parents) and is waiting for the sap to start flowing.

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Josh is tall and lean, and has an eager demeanor. He's a student at Canton high school, and I meet up with him during the Presidents' Day school break. On a relatively mild, rainy morning, Josh wears a sweatshirt with his company's logo on the chest. It's part of his business and marketing plan that includes bottles and buckets with the logo, too.

At one of his two sugar bushes near Pyrites in St. Lawrence County, Parker and his mentor-slash-employee John give me a tour of the of the sap collection process, starting with huge holding tanks in a shack at the edge of his sugar bush. After collecting sap, Josh and John boil it down, "all at once so I don't have to clean everything twice."
John, who helped Josh get started in the maple business, serves as his right hand man or "woods guy," as he says, helping him tap trees, hang lines and monitor the vacuum system for moving the sap from tree to tank.
Josh's dad helped convert a 2,000 square foot barn on the family's farm into the sugar shack. That's where I help him empty a large barrel of sap into a bottle. During the January thaw he tapped his maple trees for about a week and produced 15 gallons of syrup.
The store shelves are empty, for now, at Parker Maple Farm, near Canton. But Joshua hopes to produce 1,000-1,500 gallons of syrup this season. Photo: Todd Moe
The store shelves are empty, for now, at Parker Maple Farm, near Canton. But Joshua hopes to produce 1,000-1,500 gallons of syrup this season. Photo: Todd Moe

Nearby stands the centerpiece of the operation – a shiny, stainless-steel industrial size evaporator, one of only two in New York state powered by wood pellets. It's been cold this month, and the evaporator is quiet. But Josh is optimistic and he tells me his goal this year is to produce about 1,500 gallons of syrup.

He says some people have told him he should have started out working for someone else, to get some experience before going out on his own. How does he respond? "I'd probably say that yeah, I probably should have. But I didn't, so here I am, and it'll be okay…The first year is going to be bumpy, but the second year will be better and the third year better than that." Josh says he has a lot of people he can call on.
This year, as part of an FFA project at school, Josh's classmates will hang sap buckets (with the Parker Maple Farm logo) around town and share in the experience of turning sap to syrup.
Much more to hear in the audio version of this story! Listen here.

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Annual Maple Weekend in New York March 22-23 and 29-30, 2014

Healthy Living: Savor the flavor during Maple Weekend
Posted: Saturday, March 1, 2014 5:00 am
By Jen Reardon  |  The Daily News

New York State Maple Producers welcome you to the Annual Maple Weekend March 22-23 and 29-30, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Visit your local maple producer to see first-hand how sap from sugar maple trees is made into maple syrup. During Maple Weekend, local producers open their sugarhouses to the public. Visiting your local sugarhouse is free and producers will have a variety of maple products for sale, including maple syrup, maple cream, maple sugar and maple candy.

If you have never tasted pure New York state maple syrup, you are in for a treat. It is sweet and delicious and tastes better than any mass-produced pancake syrup. Check out pancake breakfasts being held near maple producers for your chance to try pure maple syrup on your pancakes.

Maple syrup, produced from sugar maple tree sap, is only produced in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. Native Americans made pure maple syrup before Europeans arrived in North America. Other parts of the world may produce syrup from other types of trees, but no syrup has as high of sugar content as maple syrup. Maple season lasts for about six weeks.

Maple syrup is made by evaporating the water from pure maple sap until the syrup is at minimum 66 percent sugar by weight. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of pure maple syrup. Syrup is graded by color and the darker the color of the syrup, the stronger the flavor. The grade is determined by the amount of light that shines through the syrup. New York Grade A Light Amber is the lightest of the color grades and has a mild, delicate flavor. Medium amber is a bit darker in color and flavor and dark amber is the darkest in color and flavor. Grade B syrup is also made but is sold to be used as an ingredient in other products. Weather conditions, the way the sap is harvested and production techniques all can affect the color and flavor of maple syrup.

According to the Cornell Sugar Maple Research and Extension program, when cooking, maple syrup can be used in place of granulated white sugar. Use 1 cup of pure maple syrup for 1 cup of granulated white sugar and reduce the liquid in the recipe by 3 tablespoons for every cup of pure maple syrup used. One cup of maple sugar can also replace 1 cup of granulated white sugar.

There is no scientific research that shows that pure maple syrup is any healthier than granulated white sugar but because pure maple syrup is less refined it contains minerals and antioxidants not found in granulated white sugar.

Keep unopened containers of pure maple syrup in a cool, dark place. Once the container is open, tightly seal it and store it in the refrigerator or the freezer.

Buy local and support the first local agricultural product of the season by attending Maple Weekend and enjoying the sweetness of pure maple syrup. Visit the Maple Weekend website at for a maple producer near you.


Jen Reardon is a registered dietitian working with Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Eat Smart NY! Program.

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hartford Courant: Historical Society Of Glastonbury To Host Maple Sugaring Demonstration

Hartford Courant 7:54 a.m. EST, February 22, 2013

GLASTONBURY —— It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. The Native American Indians showed the settlers how to take the sap from the maple trees to create syrup.
These are some of the facts visitors will learn as they attend the Historical Society at Glastonbury's "Maple Sugar Madness" on March 10. The event will showcase how maple syrup is made using modern tools.

The event will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Welles Shipman Ward House in South Glastonbury. Glastonbury native Mark Packard will take visitors through the maple sugar making process. Visitors will check the sugar bush – a group of maple trees - on the hill behind the house where the trees are tapped. The sap will be boiled in a large 2-foot-by-4-foot pan, on concrete blocks with a fire underneath it.

Inside the historic home, pancakes will be cooked on the open hearth using an 18th-century method with Connecticut-made sap poured on them. Admission is $3 per person and free to HSG members. The rain/snow date is March 17.

—Peter Marteka

Copyright © 2013, The Hartford Courant

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Stowe Reporter: Changes proposed for maple syrup labeling

Stowe Reporter: Changes proposed for maple syrup labeling
Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013 12:00 pm

Would fancy grade maple syrup by any other name taste as sweet?
Vermont lawmakers are wrestling with that question as they consider whether to drop the state’s traditional maple syrup-labeling system in favor of an international one.

The change pits tradition versus a desire to be a bigger player in world markets. Vermont is the No. 1 maple syrup producer in the U.S.
Gone would be labels such as fancy, grade A medium amber and grade B. In their place would be several types sharing a grade A label, with descriptive phrases added, such as golden color and delicate taste; amber color and rich taste; dark color and robust taste; very dark color and strong taste.

The changes could be made unilaterally by the state Agency of Agriculture, but it has asked for backing in the form of a legislative resolution.
The state Senate last week passed the measure and sent it to the House.

Sen. Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland, initially argued against the measure before reluctantly going along, saying he was mollified by assurances that the changes would be phased in over three years and that producers wouldn’t have to throw out containers already printed with the existing labels.
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New York State Maple Syrup Production Increase May Threaten Quebec’s Stranglehold on Global Supply

Quebec’s dominance in the global supply of maple syrup could be threatened by New York State’s rapidly expanding production according to Benoit Girouard, president of the Union Paysanne. Mary Ross of the Mohawk Valley Trading Company where their maple syrup is made primarily from sugar maple sap doubts that will happen anytime soon.
Utica, NY (PRWEB) February 19, 2013
The theft of maple syrup worth an estimated $18-million from the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers warehouse in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, Quebec has rocked the maple syrup industry and the investigation has spread beyond the Canadian border. Some of the stolen syrup was possibly sold to Maple Grove Farms in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, the largest packer of maple syrup in the United States.
Maple Grove has issued a statement denying any knowledge that the syrup it bought was hot, but had purchased it “in good faith with no reason to believe that it was coming from Quebec or that it may have been stolen.”
The crime and its subsequent investigation have not only exposed a well organized maple syrup black market, but may enable New York State maple syrup producers to capitalize on blowback from the federation’s authoritarian control of the industry.
According to Benoit Girouard, president of the Union Paysanne, a farmers’ union formed to dispute the province’s main agricultural union, Quebec’s effort to control maple syrup sales is backfiring. Due to the fact that Quebec’s prices for maple syrup are artificially set instead of by the free market, in addition to the added expense of the dictatorial bureaucracy, American producers can come in under them. 10 years ago, Quebec supplied 80% of the world’s maple syrup where as today, that number has dropped to about 76%.
Mr. Girouard stated that New York State is rapidly expanding production and could threaten Quebec’s dominance of the market. “Businessmen can see an opportunity, and they have realized that in Quebec, maple syrup is going to stagnate because of the system that has been implemented,” said Girouard. “For supply management to work, there have to be closed borders,” he said, but with syrup, it’s a free market everywhere but in Quebec. A study by the Régie des marchés agricoles et alimentaires released in 2012 noted that American competition “is an important preoccupation for the Quebec maple industry.”
However, Mary Ross of The Mohawk Valley Trading Company where their maple syrup is made primarily from sugar maple sap says that "New York State is quite a ways off from being any type menace to Quebec’s supremacy in the global market."
“First of all, look at the numbers;" Ross continued "Vermont is the largest producer in the United States, generating about 5.5 percent of the global supply with over 1,140,000 US gallons during the 2011 season, followed by New York with 564,000 US gallons for the same period, which is less than half of that”
“With Quebec supplying almost 80% of the global demand for maple syrup, and Vermont 5.5 percent of the global supply, I doubt that New York State maple syrup producers will be much of a threat any time soon. That is a pretty tall order to fill”.
About Maple Syrup
Next to honey, maple syrup is the most popular natural sweetener in North America and its production predates European colonization. Early Native American societies in Canada and the northeastern United States were distilling maple syrup and sugar before those geographic boundaries existed. Maple sugar is made from the controlled crystallization of maple syrup and takes several forms.There is no written record of the first syrup production but several native legends persist. Many tribes celebrated the short maple sap collection season with specific rituals.
The Native Americans collected maple sap from v-shaped notches carved into maple trees. The sap was diverted into birch bark buckets using bark or reeds. It was concentrated by placing hot stones into the buckets or by freezing the sap and removing the ice, which is composed only of water.
When Europeans reached northeastern America they adapted native techniques to make their own maple syrup. The v-shaped notches were replaced with auger-drilled holes. This practice is less damaging to the trees. Bark buckets were replaced with seamless wooden buckets carved from lumber rounds. The method of sap concentration also changed from passive to active. Large amounts of sap were collected and brought to a single area where it was boiled over fires in round cauldrons until reduced to the desired consistency. ‘Sugar shacks’ were built expressly for the purpose of sap boiling. Draft animals were often used to haul fire wood and large containers of sap for sugaring. Maple syrup was an important food additive in early America because imported cane sugar was not yet available.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hear & Now Radio: The Great Maple Syrup Heist

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Great Maple Syrup Heist

A variety of pure maple syrup containers are displayed at Ben's Sugar Shack in Temple, N.H., in February 2012. (Charles Krupa/AP)
A variety of pure maple syrup containers are displayed at Ben’s Sugar Shack in Temple, N.H., in February 2012. (Charles Krupa/AP)

Did you know that the greatest agricultural theft ever was of maple syrup?

Last year, six million pounds of maple syrup, valued at 18 million dollars, was stolen from the Global Maple Syrup Reserve in northern Québec province.

Bloomberg Businessweek writer Brendan Borrell told Here & Now’s Robin Young that it would have taken more than 100 tractor trailers to transport that amount of syrup.
The Federation of Québec Maple Syrup Producers was established in order to stabilize prices and allow for a year-long supply of syrup to make up for the relatively short production season at the end of winter.

But after discovering numerous empty barrels – or barrels filled with water – Canadian law enforcement officials launched an investigation. Eventually they found a link between syrup middleman Richard Vallières and Etienne St. Pierre, a well-known syrup trafficker in Kedgwick, New Brunswick.

Unlike Québec, New Brunswick has no syrup federation, so producers can sell to whomever they want without any production quotas.

While the Federation can sue St. Pierre in civil court, it is still unclear whether he broke criminal laws. Nevertheless, Borrell mentions how St. Pierre could be an ideological leader.

“I personally see him as a bit of hero for his cause, which is the free market,” Borrell said.
Maple syrup trades at about 32 dollars a gallon, 13 times the price of crude oil.

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Main Line Media News: Maple Syrup Events in Wissahickon, PA

Making maple syrup in the Wissahickon

Wissahickon Environmental Center presents a day of hands-on activities and demonstrations that celebrate the end of winter with the making of pure maple syrup. Take the family to the Wissahickon Valley for this annual celebration of the maple tree on Feb. 23 from 11 a.m. till 3 p.m..

Included is a tour of the sugar bush, an area of maple trees, where participants learn to identify the sugar maple tree, tap the tree, and collect the tree’s sap- the only ingredient in pure maple syrup.

Demonstrations will include boiling the sap into syrup, and making maple candy.

Storytellers will tell how the Native Americans discovered this purely North American treat. Visitors can compare maple syrup to other pancake toppings in a taste test. Top off the day by tasting pure maple syrup over delicious pancakes. Pennsylvania maple syrup and candy will be for sale. The event is free, but donations will be accepted.
It all takes place on Wissahickon (Forbidden) Drive in Wissahickon Park at Northwestern Ave. (off of Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill)

For further information phone 215-685-9285 or go to

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