LEXINGTON, Ky. — In 1930, sugar was rationed in Kentucky, forcing many who wanted maple syrup and sugar to try their own hand. Since that time, the number of those making their own syrup has crept lower until the craft became almost a distant memory.
However, in recent years the state has seen a resurgence of production. This fall, the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment will partner with the Kentucky Maple Syrup Association and the Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development to host four maple syrup workshops beginning in September and culminating with the 2021 Kentucky Maple Syrup School Nov. 6. The workshops are the first part of a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to grow and expand the maple syrup industry in the Bluegrass State.
“The maple syrup industry in Kentucky is really growing ,” said Billy Thomas, extension forester with the UK Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. “We really believe that this program will go a long way toward helping not only individual maple syrup producers, but the industry as a whole.”
Participants will be able to learn about the Kentucky maple syrup industry and some of the national trends regarding demand at 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. EDT Sept. 14 on Zoom. Additionally, attendees may learn all about the tapping process, which generally occurs in late December and runs through early February. This program will discuss tree identification, proper equipment, when and how to tap, and how to use the sap to make syrup and other products.
During the Oct. 14 Zoom workshop, attendees will get the opportunity to dig a little deeper into maple syrup production. Topics presented include how to select your sugarbush as well as collecting the tree sap, tubing, vacuuming and reverse osmosis. Once the syrup is ready, participants will learn about marketing their maple syrup.
The Davis Family Farms in Greensburg will host a tour of their facilities and grounds from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. CDT Oct. 23. Those who have registered may visit a sugarbush and sugar house to experience tapping practices up close. During their tour, visitors will also find out what inspired the Davis family to get into the industry, understand how syrup fits into their overall farming operations and how they received assistance to achieving their goals.
The workshop series will culminate on Saturday, Nov. 6 with the Kentucky Maple School at the Letcher County Extension office. The school will run from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. EDT. Participants will listen to maple syrup expert Abby van den Berg from the University of Vermont, and others to learn about value- added products that help make the industry profitable. Future and current maple syrup producers will also find out how the Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development, a non-profit organization established to facilitate agricultural and rural business development in Kentucky, can assist them.
For more information on registering for the workshops, visit https://ky-maplesyrup.ca.uky.edu/workshops, or contact UK forestry’s Jacob Muller, (firstname.lastname@example.org,) or Billy Thomas, (email@example.com).
Funding for “Enhancing the Awareness, Knowledge, and Understanding of Sustainable Maple Syrup Production Practices Among Current and Potential Maple Syrup Producers” was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant AM200100XXXXG007. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.
— Jordan Strickler, University of Kentucky
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