What do you think of when you think of sugaring—buckets and gathering tubs, or tubing and vacuum? It is interesting that most photographs of sugaring feature the old style. If you go to Google Images and search for “maple sugaring,” you will find many pictures of buckets but not many pictures of tubing. We are nostalgic about our past. Even at Yankee Farm Credit: the back cover of our 2008 annual report features a sugaring photo that is more old than new.
But most maple sap nowadays is collected with tubing. One of the larger sugaring operations in Yankee’s territory is Joe Russo’s sugarbush in Belvidere, Vermont: The Green Mountain Maple Sugar Refining Company. Below is Joe standing under the pipelines that bring sap from more than 70,000 taps into his sugarhouse:
Inside Joe’s sugarhouse is more technology: a vacuum pump for each of the main pipelines above, reverse osmosis systems, a steam boiler, various hi-tech syrup filters. And a diesel generator to run everything. When things are humming, Joe can produce a 55 gallon barrel of syrup every 10 minutes.
Sunday’s Burlington Free Press had a good article about sugaring, both old and new: “Vermont’s sweet season in full swing”. The article contrasts two sugaring operations in Fairfield: one that uses buckets and horses, and one that uses tubing, vacuum and reverse osmosis.
All three states in Yankee’s territory have Maple Open House Weekends this coming weekend, March 28-29. There are plenty of sugarhouses open to the public and I encourage you to go visiting: