Vermont – 17851 Miles Driven.
Canadian maple syrup accounts for 75% of the worlds supply. The 6% that Vermont produces may be tiny compared to Canada, but it’s the largest maple syrup producing state in the United States. Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks is one of its many producers.
Burr Morse is the 7th generation of Morse’s to run the farm, his ancestors that settled there were taught how to tap the trees by Native Americans. Before I spoke to Burr I had no idea how tricky maple syrup production was. For starters the maple trees have to be at least 40 years old, and you need four of them to get just one gallon of syrup. There’s the climate, which has to be perfect for the trees to produce the all-important sap. The temperature has to freeze at night to -20F and thaw to 40F in the day. Burr says 2016 was a good year and he was able to collect sap for six weeks. 2015 on the other hand was terrible, and conditions were only perfect for 2 weeks. Then there’s the two months it takes Burr and his team to prepare the 5,000 trees, hooking each of them up to an intricate tap and tubing system that collects the sap, that squirrels will chew through and Moose will knock out. As for producing the actual finished syrup and the different grades you can get, well that’s a chemistry lesson in itself.
It seems like an awful lot of work for not much return so it came as no surprise to hear that there’s a big problem with fake product in the market, and that most genuine maple syrup producers are dairy farmers for the rest of the year to support their business. Burr used to be one of those dairy farmers but says he’s now diversified his maple syrup business enough so he can rely on it for an income all year round. He’s opened his farm up to the masses, welcoming tourist coaches, running educational guided tours, and selling a whole host of value added maple syrup products including the famous maple Creemee, that’s essentially soft serve vanilla ice cream with maple syrup mixed through it.
Burr’s diversification seems to be paying off, and I lost count of number of people including myself milling around the farm with a Creemee in their hands. Next time I pour maple syrup on my pancakes I’ll have a great deal more appreciation for it.
Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks is located at; 1168 County Road, Montpelier, VT 05602. Telephone; +1 (800) 242-2740.