By Scott Waterman - Agency of Agriculture
Watched over by the heights of Mount Mansfield, yet tucked away in the rolling hills beneath, sits arguably one of Vermont’s most important research facilities. There is no fence, no security, not even a front desk to greet you as you enter, perhaps this openness is due to a common mission; one that most folks likely support. Because when it comes to all things maple, the Proctor Maple Research Center and Vermonters are working towards the same goal: a successful and healthy maple syrup and forest industry.
As the calendar slowly moves deeper into 2018, maple producers are watching the weather, and anticipating the upcoming sugaring season, checking tubing and readying their sugarhouses. Typically arriving sometime in March, sugaring season brings excitement for maple syrup, but also spring, as both signal our lengthening days, warming weather, and our upcoming agricultural season.
Rachel Floyd, Consumer Protection Chief for the Vermont Agency of Agriculture recently travelled to the research center to tour the facility, learn how their research is supporting the maple industry, and how the health of the maple forest is integral to the success of our maple syrup producers. Her guide in this tour was maple researcher Mark Isselhardt, who works for the UVM Extension Service, the operators of the Proctor Maple Research facility.
Through a short but descriptive presentation and syrup tasting, Isselhardt described Vermont as a somewhat unique geographic location for maple trees, with a beneficial environment to support sugar maples, and spoke of the history of the maple syrup industry in Vermont. Both of these factors contribute to the explanation as to why our small state leads the country, by far, in maple syrup production.
Mark, Rachel and other Agency of Agriculture members are assuming various responsibilities once held by Henry Marckres, who retired after 30 years of serving the Agency. Pease contact Mark at UVM Extension or the Agency with your questions and concerns.
As we look to March, and the upcoming sugaring season as hope for another spring, we encourage you to plan for the Maple Open House Weekend. Participating maple syrup producers open their sugaring operations to visitors as a celebration of our local economy and Vermont traditions. Maple Open House Weekend is March 24th and 25th. Participating maple producers can be found at the Vermont Maple Association website, www.vermontmaple.org .