Maple Boot Camp rotated over to Pennsylvania for 2023 after we hosted it last year in ’22. The agenda delivered a wealth of information to 20+ lucky attendees who came from backgrounds of “I’ve never tapped a tree before” to “I’m looking to expand into that medium-large producer category.” Speakers from Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania served to make Boot Camp a huge success – a special thanks to Mike Lynch of Baer Brothers Maple for hosting the in-field workshops in his sugarbush and sugarhouse.
Kate Fotos, Les Ober, and Mike Rechlin taught a maple grading seminar to attendees who elected to show up early for a pre-Boot Camp workshop. Day 1 covered discussions of tree identification, site and woods evaluation, sugarbush inventory, and tree health assessments, and spanned indoor sessions with outdoor hands-on lab time. After a wonderful catered dinner, Steve Childs tackled night one of value-added maple products and demonstrated maple sugar and maple cotton candy. Here is a link to the New York State Maple Confections Notebook that is a testament and legacy to his lasting impact on the maple industry across the region.
Day 2 kicked off with a flipped itinerary to accommodate weather conditions that were less than favorable. Kudos to everyone’s flexibility and Scott Weikert’s boldness to turn the agenda on its head. It is hard to imagine the day going much better than it did! While night two of maple confections featured maple cream and maple candies back in the meeting event space, the vast majority of the day took place in the sugarbush at Baer Brothers Maple. Sap collection methods and detailed demonstrations of installing and maintaining main line, lateral line, and drop and spout configurations filled the morning. After a bagged lunch, best practices related to tapping and sanitation practices took center stage. Semi-structured lectures interspersed with lots of hands-on demonstrations and opportunities for workshop attendees to try their own hands at different skills and techniques carried the day.
While I was not able to stick around for the third and final day, everyone once again caravaned out to Mike’s sugarhouse to see his reverse osmosis and evaporator set-up. This is such an important component of workshops, but due to time of year, sometimes gets the short end of the stick. Not this time. Mike had his system primed with water to get all the steam and the burn which takes an off-season experience to the next level. Attendees were lucky to enjoy an afternoon closing session on financial planning, operation economics, sales and marketing from one of the best in the industry – Mark Cannella from UVM.
Planning for Maple Boot Camp version West Virginia is already afoot for 2024 – as details begin to fall into place, you can be sure we will share all of the relevant details!
The Out of the Woods webinar series continues this Thursday night, July 20th at 7 PM out of our partner Future Generations University. The Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area (AFNHA) is featuring on this month’s event and will have agroforestry experts speaking to the life of a forest and the benefits these different living organisms bring to the ecosystem. It might not be as maple-focused as it usually is, but the focus on holistic forest integrity should be integral to any maple producer’s mindset.
The AFNHA “conserves, interprets and promotes forest heritage to enhance landscapes and communities” throughout regions of Appalachia. Though their focal area are specific counties of Maryland and West Virginia, there is much to be learned from their unique approach to asset-based tourism and community development in heavily forested landscapes. Here is a beautifully done webpage within their site that walks through the seasonality of different forest edible plants and derivatives.
Register Here Now.
Maple Boot Camp is going on the road for 2023 and pit-stopping with our neighbor to the east: Pennsylvania. Scott Weikert and the good folks at Penn State University are hosting this year’s event from September 6-8 in Somerset, PA. The agenda is fairly similar to last year’s event that we hosted at the OSU-Mansfield campus during the month of June.
To kick things off, attendees can sign up for a bonus maple syrup grading workshop morning of Wednesday September 6th. The registration link is here.
The official Maple Boot Camp will kick off right after lunch that same day and continue for two and a half days through Friday mid-afternoon. We hope to see you in Pennsylvania for this signature maple educational opportunity. It is an excellent deep dive for beginners or small producers thinking about growing their operation. Veterans will undoubtedly learn a thing or 3 though too as they interact with maple experts and producers from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York.
The Pennsylvania Maple Camp provides intensive, hands-on training for beginner and intermediate maple producers. The 3-day curriculum begins with sugarbush assessment, then builds sequentially through all phases of maple syrup production from sap collection to boiling, bottling and sales. Participants will gain the skills necessary for the safe, efficient, and profitable production of maple products. Camp will include classroom lectures as well as outdoor, hands-on exercises. Come one, come all, see you in Pennsylvania for Maple Boot Camp!
We hosted Maple Boot Camp at Ohio State Mansfield on June 22-24. Carri Jagger, Thomas deHaas, and Kathy Smith pulled this post together for the Buckeye Yard & Garden Online blog.
We cannot hold events of this quality without a lot of help and support. A big thanks to Carri and Kathy, Mike Lynch from CDL, Mike Hogan of OSU Extension, Sayeed Mehmood, Les Ober, Mike Rechlin, Kate Fotos, and Mike Lucero. I hope I am not forgetting anyone. And an especially huge thanks to the Brown family at Bonhomie Acres and Stan Hess for opening up their operations for tours and interfacing with Boot Camp attendees.
Here are a sprinkling of photos to supplement what you’ll see at the linked write-up above.
Join us Saturday, December 11th for a day of all things maple! We will highlight research from Ohio State’s two ACER research grants and introduce you to some of our research partners from West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Spotted lanternfly is now in Ohio so learn its impacts and how producers can help. We will also talk about how to improve your public events at the sugarbush, and a presentation on a new opportunity for selling bulk syrup. The program runs from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM with registration opening at 8:30.
The full slate of presentations is as follows:
Ohio’s ACER Grants
Ohio Maple Producer Survey – Sayeed Mehmood, Ohio State University
Reds, Silvers, Rilvers and Sugars – Gabe Karns, Ohio State University,
Spotted Lanternfly in Ohio: How Maple Producers Can Help – Amy Stone, OSU Extension
Forest Management Planning – Kathy Smith, Ohio State University
Is Agritourism in Your Future? – Rob Leeds, Ohio State University Extension
Authentic Appalachia – Mike Rechlin, Future Generations University
Tapping Red Maple – Abby van den Berg, University of Vermont, Proctor Maple Research Center
The 2021 International Fall into Maple Tour is scheduled for October 8-17. On Saturday, October 9th, you have a great chance to visit with members of the Ohio State Maple team at Ohio State Mansfield between 10 AM-6 PM. Visitors will be able to tour the research sugarbush, purchase OSU maple syrup, and see some new maple educational materials that we are excited to debut. From 10 AM-noon, we will be serving a pancake breakfast to tailgate for the Ohio State versus Maryland football game that starts at noon. Look for the event tent in the Ohio State Mansfield parking lot #8 and come see us.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 Delta variant, this fall’s Southern Syrup Symposium has been suspended until further notice. Organizers are working to figure out if a virtual gathering later in the fall can be organized. We will be sure to update when we know more.
This year’s Southern Syrup Symposium needs to be on your radar especially if you are a producer in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, or of course Ohio. The Southern Syrup Symposium brings together maple experts from all over, but the programming always has a little special emphasis on maple across the southern geographic tier. This year’s event starts at noon on Friday, September 24th with your choice between 2 field workshops before the full-day program on Saturday, September 25th. Lots of food and fellowship is mixed in throughout. Talk topics cover the gamut from forest management to quality tasting syrup-making tips, climate impacts on maple and research updates – including ours!
Registration is open now and is available here. See you in Morgantown!
Just a friendly reminder to register for Friday’s 2021 Ohio Maple Days event. Ohio Maple Days will look different than in year’s past with remote presentations to a Zoom audience. But one thing has not nor will ever change – the high quality content you have come to expect from Ohio’s signature education event for the Buckeye State’s maple producers.
Hope to see you there!
Penn State Extension is offering free webinars to maple beginners on January 18th (noon) and January 25th (7 PM).
Topics covered will include identifying different maple tree species, proper tapping procedures, boiling the sap, and filtering the final syrup product. Registration is FREE, click here for more information.