Not in the ways you’d expect. If we’re doing our job right, we can sustainably tap trees for the entirety of their adult life. In fact, we still tap trees that Jenna’s great grandmother Sara Baird tapped back in 1918. You cannot take more sap than the tree needs. The tree is capable of regenerating sap similar to how your body can replenish blood. However, it is possible to overtap a tree and you can also tap a tree when it's still too young. Over many decades, sugarmakers have become far more conservative on best tapping practices. The biggest potential harm is that tapping trees will create non-conductive xylem or essentially dead wood. Every year we drill fresh new holes and hammer spouts into our trees. Over the season, those wounds heal up because maples have a special property called compartamentalization. We want to make sure that the tree’s growth rate is not impacted by the amount of non-conductive xylem that our tapping creates. Consequently, to be certified organic we adhere to tapping guidelines that are annually inspected by VOF.
Much of what we do in the sugarhouse is very similar to conventional producers. That said, we do use a different defoamer. Foam is a common obstacle in many food and beverage applications. When sugar boils under high heat there is considerable foam pressure. All sugarmakers use a defoamer to suppress foam from boiling over the evaporator pans. Most conventional producers use a product called Atmos 300k. Atmos 300k is a food grade emulsifier blend of Mono- and Diglycerides derived from edible sources and Propylene Glycol. We do not use Atmos 300k. We use organic safflower oil. It's a little more expensive and requires more attention while boiling. There are other organic approved defoamers on the market. Almost all of the defoamer is boiled or filtered out. There’s less than 20 parts per million in a jug of finished maple, but syrup can be tested for synthetic defoamer. We also have an approved list of cleaning products for the equipment in the sugarhouse.
The organic certification process allows us to trace our maple syrup from the day it's produced to the day it's bottled for your table.
Our farm is inspected on a yearly basis. This ensures that we are abiding by all organic standards and guidelines
Many of our customers ask "Isn't maple syrup organic already?" Because maple syrup is a natural product and is harvested from wild maple trees consumers often wonder what the difference is between organic vs. non-organic (conventional) maple syrup.
In order to be a certified organic maple producer, we must follow a strict set of rules and guideline set by VOF (Vermont Organic Farmers) and approved by the USDA. Some of the major requirements are listed below.
Our sugaring operation must:
1. Have an approved forest management plan that prioritizes sustainability, ensures stewardship of our land by providing quality habitats for wildlife and creates biodiversity in the sugarbush, eliminating the use of pesticides and promoting an overall healthy sugarbush. Many sugarbushes are logged or thinned to promote sugar maple growth.
2. Follow VOF (Vermont Organic Farmers) tapping guidelines. Four major factors/guidelines we focus on when tapping our 14,000 maple trees are: minimum tree diameter, distance from old tap holes to new tap holes, the number of taps per tree, and tubing drop length. Following the requirements for each of these four categories helps us maintain a healthy and happy sugarbush.
3. Use an organic defoamer in our evaporator. All sugarmakers use a defoamer when boiling their sap into syrup in order to decrease foam in the evaporator. We use a certified organic safflower oil.
4. Participate in a yearly inspection
Want to know more?
Feel free to reach out to us directly.