Sustaining the Sugar Bush in a Tribal Community to Educate, Reduce Fuel Usage and Increase Marketable Maple Sap Products.

Progress report for FNC19-1160

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2019: $9,000.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2022
Grant Recipient: Dupuis Sugarbush
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Eric Dupuis
Dupuis Sugarbush
Expand All

Project Information

Description of operation:

Producer has been using a gravity fed tubing system to reduce all terrain vehicle traffic to reduce the amount of soil impaction that affects the shallow roots of maple trees. Producer removes snags from his sugar bush and periodically thins the maple stand.

Summary:

This project will promote the NC SARE Sustainable Agriculture practices to be ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially responsible by reducing the fuel necessary to reheat the sap, preserve the quality of the sap, and educate the community on using tubing to reduce the impact of foot or vehicle traffic on the root systems of the tapped sugar maple trees.

 

    • Increase marketing of maple syrup by updating the pan and filtration process.
    • Provide hands-on educational opportunities for transitioning to tubing and finishing sap.
    • Increase sustainability by using less fuel in the sugar bush operation.
    • Determine the amount of fuel and time used to finish syrup and compare the difference the filtration system has provided in finishing the syrup.
    • Increase value added products for market.
    • Share findings through workshops, website, social media, and conference presentations.
    • Create a business plan for the sugar bush operation.

 

The producer has been running a sugar bush for 15 years.  The producer has worked with the 13 Moons Fond du Lac Tribal College Extension Program since 2016.  The role of the producer is to train community members about the sugar bush operations. 

Project Objectives:

 

    • Increase marketing of maple syrup by updating the pan and filtration process.
    • Provide educational opportunities for transitioning to tubing and finishing sap.
    • Increase sustainability by using less fuel in the sugar bush operation.
    • Determine the amount of fuel and time used to finish syrup and compare the difference the filtration    system has provided in finishing the syrup.
    • Increase value added products for market.
    • Share findings through workshops, website, social media, and  conference presentations
    • Create a business plan for the sugar bush operation. MyPlan

Research

Materials and methods:

The producer will begin working with UMD Center of Economic Development to create a business plan for the sugar bush operation. The producer will work with the 13 Moons Program to track the amount of fuel he has used in the past and what he uses during this project to compare the savings in fuel use. The producer will share his knowledge with community members during the 13 Moons workshops. The producer will demonstrate the use of the steam bottle and filter press to teach community members the process of finishing syrup. The producer will create labels for his finished maple syrup products to market at the Fond du Lac Farmer’s Market and local events. The producer will complete a comparison of fuel used for the evaporator and filter systems to show savings in labor and natural resources.

To prepare for the sugar bush community members will learn from the producer how to identify maple trees during the winter months. The producer will demonstrate and provide hands on experiential learning on the correct tapping techniques, how to install and maintain a tubing system, boiling sap, making sugar, making candy, and finishing syrup in the 13 Moons Sugar Bush and workshops.

Resources from NCAT and Extension programs will be used for curriculum. Community members will learn about the process of starting a sugar bush operation from 30 taps, how to make upgrades, finishing, marketing and business planning. The UMN Center of Economic Development will be utilized to provide business planning workshops for the producer/educator and community members.

The following resources will be distributed at workshops:

Books: How to Make Maple Syrup by Allison and Steve Anderson

Handouts: In the publication “Maple Sugaring: An Introduction to Small-Scale Commercial Production”, https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/download.php?id=578

The Proctor Maple Research Center http://www.uvm.edu/~pmrc/filter_press_brochure.pdf

FDL Tapping Guidelines:  http://www.fdlrez.com/RM/downloads/FDLSugarBushTappingGuidelinesMar16.pdf

Participation Summary
1 Farmer participating in research

Educational & Outreach Activities

1 Webinars / talks / presentations
1 Attended and presented at the MN Emerging Farmers Conference on January 27th, 2021. The presentation was held via Zoom. We provided a powerpoint presentation on the experiential grant writing opportunity with SARE and the progress of the Sugar Bush project.

Participation Summary

101 Farmers
20 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

Due to Covid responses to social distance and quarantine, the goals and objective for the March-May 2020 sugar bush project was cancelled.  The sugar bush operation was extremely limited due to lack of help.  The data was not applicable to the project since we only collected a few gallons for personal use.  

I attended and presented at the MN Emerging Farmers Conference on January 27th, 2021. The presentation was held via Zoom. We provided a powerpoint presentation on the experiential grant writing opportunity with SARE and the progress of the Sugar Bush project.

Updating my sugarbush

Learning Outcomes

5 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation
Lessons Learned:

The SARE funding provided the opportunity to improve the 13 Moons Tribal College Extension Sugar Bush and workshops.  The producer was able to provide a hands-on demonstration for installing a gravity fed tubing system to 50 trees.  

The producer was able to increase the amount of sap made from 1 cord of wood from 15 gallons to 20 gallons, thus decreasing the amount of energy needed to produce syrup.  The amount of syrup produced changes from season to season based on a number of variables, such as, temperature, length of season based on freezing night time temperatures, and barometric pressure. 

Project Outcomes

5 Farmers changed or adopted a practice
1 Grant received that built upon this project
1 New working collaboration
Success stories:

One family became involved with the sugar bush workshops from start of identifying winter trees, tapping trees, utililyzing gravity feed tubing to collecting and processing maple sap to syrup.  Most participants are single participants, however this group was a family that included their 11 year old daughter. Their participation was a great example of community participation. 

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.