MADISON, Wis. — A new three-year, $470,387 USDA Acer Access and Development grant will allow the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension and partners to expand maple sugaring outreach and education efforts in the state. The project is geared toward private woodland owners, farmers, tribal communities and other groups that have been overlooked by previous outreach efforts but are well positioned to take advantage of the economic, culinary and cultural benefits of sugaring.
“Wisconsin has a rich cultural tradition around maple syrup and has experienced growth in production and value over the past decade,” said Tricia Gorby, project collaborator and director of Extension’s Natural Resources Institute. “There is significant potential to grow the number of landowners actively engaged in sustainable management of lands for maple sugaring activities, and these practices often complement the diverse values and management goals they hold for their woodlands.”
Project Manager Jeremy Solin is a natural resources professional, small business owner and fifth-generation syrup producer who understands the potential value of the industry to the state.
“Wisconsin produced over 265,000 gallons of syrup last year, and we’re currently sitting at fourth in the nation for overall production behind Vermont, New York and Maine,” said Solin. “We have the trees, producer networks and supportive communities to become bigger players in this sector, and there are so many ways to get started, even if you’re small or you just lease property.”
Under Solin’s guidance, a diverse group of project collaborators and advisory board members with backgrounds in agriculture, forestry, community development, communications, program evaluation and tribal relations will develop and deliver tailored programming to meet the needs of producers and help them overcome any barriers to getting started in the industry. From financial planning to equipment selection and product marketing, the project will meet landowners where they are and help them balance their business and land management goals.
A producer needs assessment will commence in early 2022 with outreach efforts beginning later in the year. Training dates and engagement opportunity announcements will follow.
- UW–Madison Division of Extension Natural Resources Institute, Native American Task Force, Natural Resources Education Program and affiliated educators and specialists
- University of Minnesota Sustainable Forests Education Cooperative
- UW-Stevens Point Wisconsin Forestry Center
- Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science
- USDA Northern Forests Climate Hub
- Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association
- Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP)
- Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry
— UW-Madison Division of Extension