By Kristie Snyder,
Every year in late winter, when the weather turns from frigid to what some call "mud season," Lou Ward gets ready for action. That not-quite-spring weather — when the days warm slightly, melting snow and turning driveways into mud traps, and the nights dip down into temps that refreeze the slush — is hated by most but beloved by "sugarers." For those who make maple syrup, that's the time to start "tapping."
Maple syrup begins with the watery sap of the sugar maple, Acer saccharum, a slow-growing, common Northeastern tree that can reach nearly a hundred feet in height. The trees prepare to break their winter dormancy, and sap begins to flow, when temperatures rise above freezing during the day but dip back below 32 degrees at night (here, that's usually late February and March).
Ward started sugaring as a child, with some neighborhood kids, and has been making and selling syrup commercially since 1990. He has sold to GreenStar for over 20 years, for the last ten of which his products have been certified organic. He makes one to two thousand gallons of syrup a year on his farm in Smithville Flats (northeast of Whitney Point), and sells a good portion of that at GreenStar, his only large retail outlet. This year, he started tapping his trees in mid-February. When asked how he thought this season would go, he laughed. "It all depends on what happens over the next four to six weeks," he said. "You have to love this to do it — and you have to be very optimistic!"
New in Bulk
|The Beans, Señor!|
By Joe Damiano,
Organic raw pumpkin seeds are back! We've also got new heirloom scarlet runner beans, freeze-dried organic bananas, and hot cereal.
For those who have been wondering where the organic raw pumpkin seeds have been: for months, we couldn't find any that were grown anywhere but China. Our bylaws prohibit items from China, so it left us scrambling to find a new source. Finally, our good friends at Tierra Farm came through for us again. They've found us some beautiful organic pumpkin seeds from Austria! They truly are a step up — the pumpkin seeds and Tierra Farm, that is.
Watch, too, for heirloom scarlet runner beans from North Bay Trading Company — delicious, nutritious, and beautiful; organic freeze-dried bananas from North Bay Trading Company — reasonably priced, very tasty, and my personal favorite of the freeze-dried fruits we're now carrying; and Organic Oat Bran and Brown Rice Hot Cereal from Fiddlers Green — very similar in consistency to cream of wheat/buckwheat, and quick, easy, and yummy for the morning!