Maple Season

Maple Season

Today is March 18, 2021. By now I’m usually well into the maple sugaring season here on my small farm, Mount Kadam Forest Farm. This year has been a bit different. We have quite a bit happening at Husky Meadows Farm that is taking priority over making syrup - the development of a new log-grown mushroom operation, crop planning and early season seeding in the hoop house amongst an extensive list of other things. I’m grateful for this last-minute opportunity to spend some time in my sugar house, catching the current sap flow, filling the hours of the coming days with dutiful attention to a hot flame lit under the boiling pan and a tedious dance toward perfection during the testing of each batch. The end result of the coming days will be that sticky, delicious, amber-colored, perfection-in-a-bottle that can only come from the forests of the north. Pure, wood-fired, Connecticut maple syrup. Were it not for an upcoming maple-themed weekend at Seed & Spoon this sugar house would sit unused for the year, waiting in hopeful anticipation of next winter’s sap runs.

Maple sugaring is one of my deepest passions beyond gardening and growing vegetables. I take great pride in being able to call myself a maple producer. I did not grow up making syrup and only jumped into the mix of maple producers six years ago. I can’t say for sure what first brought my attention to making maple syrup. At that time I was new to a property that had maple trees suitable for tapping. This was part of an initial desire, I’m sure. My excitement for the process and the product blossomed quite rapidly. Quickly I understood the tradition of maple is truly something to behold. Something to be excited about. Perhaps this newly found excitement stemmed from that quintessential image of maple production in rough-cut, vertical-slat barns with large metal buckets hanging from old trees and old-fashioned horse-drawn sleighs carrying maple tanks through thick drifts of snow. Perhaps my excitement developed from my long held love for trees and being in the forest. The one piece of my excitement and passion for maple that, most definitively, drives my desire to continue producing comes from those first smiles I saw on the faces of those who tried the first syrup that came from my trees.

As I try to answer the “why’s” of my excitement over maple, so often I also ponder why I started farming altogether. There are many reasons. What’s keeping me here? It’s the smiles.

A consistent and overarching theme to my farming career that I’ve always held above my love of and desire to be immersed in the natural world is my desire to see the smiles on the faces of the people who try my syrup or honey or taste the freshness in the produce I grow. There is something so deeply heart-warming and wonderful in those smiles. It drives me to continue to pursue farming alongside a deep and pure desire to grow and produce nourishing, healthy and delicious food. Akin to those smiles from my first batches of syrup are the smiles on the faces of all our wonderful customers here at Husky Meadows Farm. Wednesday harvest day is my favorite day of the week. On Wednesday I get to greet you all as you come to pick up your CSA share. It’s here that I can see your smiles - even through the face masks - and feel as though, perhaps, I’ve done a little something to help brighten your evenings.

Even if you don’t smile, the graciousness in the moment that so many of you share suffices plenty and serves just as well as a true smile. Perhaps this all sounds silly to you. To me, it’s my verification and validation that the work I’m doing has value. And while I sit here tending the fire in the sugar house, grateful for this moment but greatly anticipating the coming warmer weather and a growing season filled with such potential, I, too, have a smile on my face.