Seminar on Making Maple Syrup in WV Upcoming in Marlinton
Luke Taylor-Ide, the Appalachia Regional Academic Director of Future Generations University, an accredited on-line college located in Franklin WV, talks with us about an upcoming free seminar in Marlinton about how to produce maple syrup and about the maple syrup industry in West Virginia.
Luke, I understand that you all will be putting on a seminar later this month about maple syrup. Can you tell us a little more about that?
“That’s correct, June 25th at 6:30 (p.m.) at the Dirt Bean, we’ll be having a public seminar on the basics of business related to starting and running your own maple syrup operation, whether that’s just making for your friends and family, or if you’re moving into the commercial production” said Taylor-Ide. “And that’s open to anyone, it’ll be an hour to an hour and a half, and we invite folks to come on down.”
Is there any charge for that?
“No, it’s absolutely free.”
What’s the status of the maple syrup industry in West Virginia, particularly the Pocahontas County area?
“West Virginia is in a very rapid period of growth in our industry. I think that many of us who are from the area grew up with it, we know it, we think of it as tied to our culture, but I don’t think everybody realizes how quickly, due some new technologies introduced into the industry, that maple is growing at a commercial level in West Virginia. Over the past two years, we’ve seen over a 20% increase in maple production, and we are coming out of a great year -this year-and we expect to see that number already up and it will probably continue to rise in the coming years with more and more people getting involved. This is particularly exciting for Pocahontas because Pocahontas and Randolph Counties sit right in the middle of the largest density of sugar maples in the entire state.”
That’s incredible. What about Sweet Opportunities? What is that all about?
“Sweet Opportunities is a project that builds upon several years of close partnership and coordination with Future Generations University, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, and the newly formed West Virginia Maple Syrup Producers Association, and it is supported by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. The Project’s goal is to work with existing producers and landowners who have already invested a lot of money into the evaporation equipment, which is where most of the costs related to maple are. We are also trying to work with nearby landowners who can start by just tapping their trees and then sell that sap to their neighbors. And their neighbors who are already in the business will then be able to scale up their production. And I think it is important to note that this collective building out of businesses and getting as many landowners as possible to begin tapping trees, is exactly how many of the New England states, particularly Vermont, have expanded to the production levels that they have reached, and obviously are known for.”
How helpful will this seminar be for people who are thinking of getting into the maple syrup business?
“I think it will be extremely helpful. We will have several Pocahontas County producers there to talk from their experience, as well as out lead faculty member who has been doing research specifically on West Virginia maple and so beyond just explaining just how to make it, we’ll talk a bit more about why it’s an exciting opportunity in West Virginia now and even if you have been doing backyard maple for years, to maybe start thinking about moving into the commercial scope, especially now -its more affordable. And if you don’t know anything about maple, you will leave this seminar with enough knowledge to at least tap a tree and make a little syrup next season. So, I do really encourage everybody to come out Tuesday, June 25th to the Dirt Bean at 6:30.”
For more information about Future Generations University’s Maple syrup program, visit their website at www.future.edu/maple.