At the Orchard

Pietree Went to Maple School!

Q&A with Matt Carter, Associate Farm Manager

Recently three Pietree staffers, Matt Carter, Rebecca Sylvester, and Dan Cousins went to a hands-on Maple School at the Randolph Campus of the Vermont Technical College. 

Matt Carter.jpg

 

Matt Carter, Pietree’s Associate Farm Manager, sat down for a Q&A  and detailed some of the highlights of this program.

Q:  What was the basic premise of the program?

A:  Typically the maple courses we have found deal with maple processing and production and not installation, the actual hanging of wire and tubing.  While that is extremely helpful information, we always felt we needed to start at the beginning – figuring out how to make the best possible use of time and materials with the resources we have available.  Each parcel of land is different in regards to typography and how far apart the trees are. 

This particular maple school focused on the process of making the best use of time and resources and therefore optimizing the available parcel of land you are working with.

Q: Who led the program?

A:  Glenn Goodrich, of Goodrich’s Maple Farm in Cabot, Vermont, was the instructor.  Glenn’s family farm has been in business since the early 1800’s.  Matt said, “This is a person who has clearly already vetted best practices as well as what not to do.  Advice from him would be tried and true over the generations his family has been tapping trees, so there would be no reinventing the wheel, but solidly successful techniques.”  Glenn began his career in 1979 with 25 maple taps on buckets and now produces syrup from 45,000 taps.  Read more about his family’s farm on their website: http://www.goodrichmaplefarm.com

Q: What was the farm like where the school was held?

A: The Randolph campus of the Vermont Technical College had an existing sugarbush that had been tapped, but had always been done by buckets.  The college wanted to switch over to have a tube system installed.  It was the perfect set-up for a teaching course, because although the layout of the sugarbush was established, there was still the element of starting over with tubing for real hands on learning.  Topographically, the landscape was quite similar to ours at Pietree as far as rolling hills and elevation changes.  The biggest difference is that the school plot had been cleared out of most all of the trees that were not maple.  And the Pietree sugarbush has many other trees to work around.

Q: What are some of the great ideas or goals you brought back to implement at Pietree?

A:  We brought back a ton of great time saving tips.  Implementing these changes will allow us to work with much more of the sugarbush landscape than we were able to last year.  We learned how to use a different type of wiring, which in the past we had tried, but hadn’t had the skills to successfully use it.  Using this stronger wire will allow us to cover more ground with less supports.  When setting in the tubing, we can make up to 500 foot runs, with occasional side tie supports, compared to the 50 foot runs we were doing with frequent supports needed.  We have already started making these changes and are excited to see the differences!

Rebecca adds that there were about 10 participants in the school and it was a great mix of start-up maple producers and established producers looking to hone their skills

We will keep you posted on the status of our sugarbush throughout the season.  Save the date for Maine Maple Sunday, March 22, 2015!