Maple Syrup Production Field Trip – TC3 Sustainable Farming and Food Systems Program
Today we are sharing one of the experiences that the students in the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems Program at TC3 have had this semester. In addition to their coursework in Agroecology (ENVS 140), and the seeding and planting they have done in the greenhouse and hoophouse, our students have joined us on 2 exciting field trips to farm/food businesses in the community this Spring.
The first field trip we took was to Sapsquatch Sugarbush to see a small scale maple syrup operation. Josh Dolan has about 500 taps in his sugarbush in Enfield, NY, 8 miles from Ithaca on Route 79. Sapsquatch also offers a number of education events and work trade experiences throughout the year. You can check out the Facebook page HERE.
When we arrived, Josh was in the process of boiling down a batch of sap, but was generous enough to spend about 45 minutes talking with us about the process, and the history of his operation. We learned a whole lot about maple syrup production, and the potential for small scale maple syrup production in the area. Josh has managed to grow his operation without taking on significant debt, and has plans to expand further over the coming years – tapping more trees and investing in a reverse osmosis system to concentrate his sap so that it can be boiled down faster.
After Josh’s boiling demonstration and talk, we went out into the woods to see the tubing that is used to move the sap down to the sugar house. We spent about an hour helping to install new tubing, and pulling spent tubing out of the woods. It was really nice to be moving around outside after being cooped up all winter, and the students certainly appreciated listening to someone other than Todd and Taylor for a little bit. It was a great trip, and we all got a lot out of it.
Our own maple syrup demonstration was a real success this year as well. We hung 15 buckets on the farm, and collected a total of about 120 total gallons of sap. Last year we rigged up a homemade boiling system in the woods. While that was pretty fun, and we did have a couple of students come out to help us, 2 full days of boiling plus all of the cutting firewood, tapping trees, and collecting sap was a lot of work for 2 gallons of syrup.
So this year we decided not to boil in the woods, and instead entered into a couple of new partnerships. A lot of our sap we brought down to Coltivare, where they boiled it down to a tasty sweet liquid that they used to make “Sapatini” cocktails, and are freezing for use in making maple lemonade this summer. The remaining sap we brought to our friends Greg Albrecht and Victoria Zeppelin at Roat Street Maple Syrup and added to their community boil, from which we will get a small amount of TC3 Farm syrup. We are going to collect one more time after coming out of the cold snap at the beginning of this week, then we will call it quits for the year.