Another early season maple sugaring & climate uncertainty

On a day when thousands are converging on DC for what is being billed as the largest climate rally ever, I take stock of the very real and very personal effects of climate change on my life.  As I walked the sugarbush and began tapping on January 10th, I had to shake my head.  After last year’s extremely early maple sugaring season, I knew that I would need to be prepared for another early season, but this was blowing my mind.

2012 was a year of extreme weather, and the balmy winter was just the opening act.  Our first boil was on Groundhog Day, almost a month earlier than ever before.  Many sugarmakers waited to see how things would turn out, but their hopes were dashed on March 17th when an unseasonable heat wave ended the season abruptly, causing the sap flow to stop and forcing most commercial tree crops to bloom way to early.  Many sugarmakers reported 50% lower yields, but orchardists were devastated when the early blooms were killed by frost, hail and late snow all in succession.

Then came the mega-drought.  Almost the entire country suffered from a lack of rain and the effects are still being felt from the lower-than-ever Great Lakes to the almost impassable Mississippi River; drawing comparisons to the Dust Bowl.   Just by coincidence, 2012 also happened to be the centennial of the Dust Bowl Troubedore, Woody Guthrie.  Then came Super-Storm Sandy, an undeniable wake up call to the harsh realities of climate change and a signal that greater calamities lie ahead.

The cold and snow of 2013 have so far presented a ‘good winter’ that us Northeasterners now look on with some level of nostalgia.  Winter Storm Nemo (when did we start naming snow storms, anyway) at first glance was just a good ole’ Noreaster, but in reality was another pumped up weather event reminding us that our modern civilization is actually much more vulnerable than we could have imagined only two short years ago.  And so, on into another early maple season that has some sugarmakers wondering if the days of our beloved golden delicious maple sugaring days are numbered.

While I have your ear, a few updates. We will be boiling regularly between now and the end of the season, and I like to post on Facebook when we are out at the shack.  Friends and newcomers are always welcome.  Below is a rundown of upcoming events you should know about:

CSA sales on sale now – For the past few years, Sapsquatch has been growing our business, and our CSA is a way to help us out at the beginning of the season and reserve your gallon.  For $80, you get 1 gallon of your favorite grade in a gallon jug or 4 quarts.  For an additional $20 we can ship OR put your gallon and a grade sampler in container sizes of your choosing (for pick up only).  Place your order via email at or by phone at (607)280-8498.

Enfield Sugarmakers Club – This year we are teaming up with Enfield’s afterschool for an 8 week maple sugar program.  Every Thursday starting February 7th, middle school kids will learn the ropes, tap trees, sled wood and sap to the sugarshack and see a boil in progress.  At the end of the season, they will also learn to identify native plants as they emerge from the freshly thawed soil.  New Roots Farm-to-School club and GIAC Conservation Corps are also tentatively scheduled for regular programming at the sugarbush.

Brooklyn High School Service Learning trip – on March 6th, 15-16 high-schoolers from Brooklyn will visit the sugarbush, help get the fire started, try their hand at chopping wood, and begin construction on a new bridge over Sapsquatch Creek.  The will also visit several area farms, universities and other educational attractions over course of the week.  You can support their trip here

NY Maple Weekends – Sapsquatch will host an open house on the last two weekends of March, 23-24 and 30-31 from 12pm-5pm.  Swing by and pick up your syrup, see the evaporator in action (depending on the weather) and take a walk in our 25 acre sugarbush.  Check Facebook for evening activities

Please contact Josh for more info or to schedule a private tour (free for CSA member’s, $10/group) at

This entry was posted in 2013, climate change, education, events, Kurt Hahn, maple production, Maple Weekend, media, music, Sapsquatch. Bookmark the permalink.

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