Maple Sugarin’

 

“In contemplating the present opening prospects in human affairs, I am led to expect that a material part of the general happiness which heaven seems to have prepared for mankind will be derived from the manufacture and general use of Maple Sugar.”

Letter to Thomas Jefferson from Benjamin Rush, August 19, 1791

 Thanks to the discovery of maple sugar by Native Americans, the sweetness and flavor of maple sugar won over European settlers as early as the 1600s.

 “In this month (February, 1756) we began to make sugar … In the sugar tree they (Native Americans) cut a notch, sloping down, and at the end of the notch stuck in a tomahawk; in the place where they stuck (it) they drove a long chip. In order to carry the water out from the tree, and under this they set their vessels to receive it.”

James Smith, An Account of Remarkable Occurences

during Captivity with the Indians. 1755-1759

 It was an important part of on-farm sugar production in 18th century New England. It played a symbolic and economic role in the Civil War, as it was made by farmers in the north as opposed to cane sugar made by slaves in the south.

“The cane sugar is the result of the forced labor of the most wretched slaves, toiling under the cruel lash of a cutting whip. While the maple sugar is made by those who are happy and free.”

William Drown, Compendium of Agriculture, 1824

 Sugaring season, especially when the first batch of sugar was made, became a time when young men and women could meet each other at the sugar house. There would be sugar tasting, socializing, music and dancing.

 “It is pleasant to visit these sugar orchards, drink sap, lap maple molasses and make love. Let the Vermont ladies beware, for in such places they may fall in love … the delicious saccharine qualities of maple molasses, presented to the swelling lips of a beautiful lass by the hand of a smiling swain, has a wonderfully softening effect upon the head.”

Gleason’s Pictorial, 1852

 Eventually, maple sugar was replaced by cane and beet sugar. Maple sugar and syrup morphed into boutique items.

In 2013, 3.2 million gallons of maple syrup were produced – 124,000 of those gallons (about 4%) in New Hampshire. As it takes over 40 gallons of maple sap boiled down to create 1 gallon of syrup, it means moving and boiling 20,000 tons of sap a year, just in New Hampshire. In contrast, the US produced 8.9 million tons of cane and beet sugar in 2013.

In celebration of sugaring time, on Saturday March 22nd, we will be hosting the 15th Annual Horse-Drawn Sap Gathering Contest. The public is invited to watch teams of draft horses compete to gather sap on a timed race course. The sugar house will be open for tours. Children can try the two man saw, lifting the old-fashioned kettle off the fire pit, and see how a small-scale evaporator works. Food and maple sundaes will also be available.  Admission is $5/person, with children ages 6 and under free.

For school children, the farm offers maple sugaring programs during the sap season, generally in March. See our website for details at: www.stonewallfarm.org/Programs/School

To learn more about our programs call us at 603.357.7278 or visit our website at: www.stonewallfarm.org.

15th Annual Horse-Drawn Sap Gathering Contest, March 22nd 2014!

Horse-Drawn Sap Gathering at Stonewall Farm

Photo Courtesy of Jeffrey Newcomer

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Bike for Bovines Race & Expanding Community Partnerships at the Farm

This past Sunday (July 14th), we at Stonewall Farm hosted what feels like an ever-growing annual tradition with the Bike for Bovines Race & Ice Cream Day. With over 100 racers participating and dozens more of spectators, supporters, and other curious community members, we’re realizing how much stronger we are with diversifying our offerings. Not only in food with our ice cream and yogurt being made at times on a weekly basis, but also in people coming to us for original recreational experiences.

Where else can you bike miles across rolling cobbles and marshlands, and then grab a farm-made serving (or two) of maple ice cream?!

However, another lesson we continue to learn and to put into daily practice would be the crucial role of community partnerships. Largely thanks to collaborating with Root 66 Race Series were we able to make the Bike for Bovines Race as much of a mutualistic, excitingly driven event. Then, there is the New England Mountain Bike Association which helped chart and craft our 2013 Trail Map and Brochure which encompasses all of our landmarks and trails, but also informs visitors on the dynamism of our farm as a wedding venue, as a sustainable source for local, heirloom vegetables, and much more. Furthermore, we could not carry out the work performed on our Volunteer Days at the Farm or the local vendors which highlight our foodstuffs and in turn attract more visitors(!) They include but are certainly not limited to Liberty Mutual, Keene State College-Upward Bound, Monadnock Food Co-op, Walpole Mountain View Winery, and many more.

If you have experienced the taste of our ice cream or yogurt after a long summer day; or if your child cannot stop telling stories about their summer camp week here at Stonewall; or if you attended a wedding ceremony and/or reception on our grounds during a crisp fall evening; or if you have snowshoed or even taken a sleigh ride across our wintry landscapes; or sampled late spring strawberries from our CSA, then you know the value of Stonewall Farm to Keene and to local food in general.

As a nonprofit, we are constantly seeking financial support to maintain (if not grow) on our active teaching farm model and experiences we offer. Some of the most meaningful support we can receive comes from our annual memberships, wherein you can become a “Steward” at different membership rates and know that you’re helping make Stonewall Farm, Stonewall Strong. While there are more than a few incentives and related discounts for our foodstuffs, our maple syrup, and more, we are grateful just to know that you care enough about Stonewall and enter into your own partnership with us. For more information, you can visit our Support Stonewall Farm page.

Help us to keep on course and thank you!

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Photo Courtesy of Our Events Intern, Katie Copeland, July 14th, 2013

You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream That Supports Farm Education!

“If you feel stressed, give yourself a break. Eat some ice cream and other sweets…Why? Because ‘stressed’  spelled backwards is ‘desserts.'”

-Anonymous

When asked on our Facebook page two weeks ago about favorite things about the summer people liked most,we had more than a few replies return answering, “Ice Cream!”

 Granted, we have only been making ice cream for the last year, and perhaps people felt like shouting out favorite memories of their past summers. Yet, for some serious reflection and to pay sincere homage to something that truly makes “summer” summer, we should talk about the delicacy that is ice cream. It also might help to put in context the sheer demand of ice cream in our imagination and on our taste buds.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, over 1.53 billion gallons of ice cream were produced nationally in 2011 and in turn generating over $10 billion in sales the year before, according to analytics group, MarketLine. Interestingly, the three most in-demand flavors of ice cream in 2012 were vanilla, mint chocolate chip,  and cookies and cream, according to the International Dairy Foods Association. Historically, there are multiple takes on how what we now know as ice cream came to be. While ancient Greek and Roman texts suggest a blending of snow and ice flavored with honey and myriad fruit juices favored by royal elite families, what we now know as a cold, cream-based dessert (i.e. ice cream) likely originated in Italy and England simultaneously by the 16th century. Contemporary texts mention a “cream ice” served at the table of King Charles I of England in the 17th century, as well as a Sicilian Italian recipe made at a Parisian cafe that involved blending butter, milk, eggs, and cream. It wouldn’t be until 1744 when we have historical proof of ice cream served in what is now the United States in Maryland. Even first President George Washington made time and money for spending over $200 in ice cream purchases (i.e. Thousands of dollars modern equivalent) during the summer of 1790 and owning “two pewter ice cream pots” for special occasions. Until the 19th century, ice cream like many other sweets were downright luxuries, due to the sheer price per volume of cane sugar and intense energy costs to keep ice cream cool. However, when insulated ice houses were devised and spread in construction, ice cream morphed from royal richness to popular eats with the additional innovations of mechanical refrigeration, homogenizing, and related technologies throughout the 1800’s and into the early 20th century. Only then could the still-strong impression of ice cream sodas and soda fountains proliferate on many American Main Streets by the 1920’s-1930’s. Even as early as 1946 after World War II finished and many service members returned Stateside, the level of ice cream consumption surged 20 quarts per person on average(!)

So, you still might be wondering, “How does Stonewall Farm craft their ice cream?” Well, as any well-researched ice cream manual or textbook, including the one we use here most frequently Robert T. Marshall’s and crew’s Ice Cream (6th Edition), there is a mind-boggling balance of chemistry, physics, and tech savvy which shapes the whole “make to scale” process. To be cost-effective we utilize ice cream mix from Massachusetts-based HP Hood. Their mix contains cream, milk, emulsifiers (ingredients which disperse milkfat in ice cream,) stabilizers (ingredients which prevent the texture of getting too crystalline, chunky, or icy), and sugar. The mixes we receive come homogenized and pasteurized. Homogenizing ensures that milkfat is pulsed and shaken with enough force to reduce the particle sizes of milkfat in the cream. Meanwhile, pasteurizing ensures that harmful bacteria strains and other contagions are treated out of the cream and milk we use.

Also, for those who are more nutritionally minded, our HP Hood mix we use contains 14 percent fat. Federal minimum standards for ice cream production lie at 10 percent fat, which often is employed for “light” and “soft-serve” ice cream. On the other end of the spectrum, super premium ice cream (such as Walpole Creamery) contains 16 percent fat. Never that ice cream was intended to be the most nutritious dairy product, but it arguably ranks as the tastiest and here at Stonewall, we like to think ice cream plays a crucial role in the summer dairy trifecta of aged cheddar cheese, ice cream, and yogurt.

Speaking of the role of ice cream, Stonewall Farm is hosting its Annual Bike for Bovines Bike Race & Ice Cream Day this Sunday July 14th, from 9 am-3 pm! Whether you choose to take part in the two race courses or cheer and watch on, we can guarantee a generous supply of ice cream flavors with our chocolate, maple, vanilla, and newly-renamed version of our vanilla chocolate chip flavors. The new name for the former vanilla chocolate chip will be announced on Sunday as well, so you don’t want to miss which name we picked from the many creative names submitted at our past June Ice Cream Social!

Also, just for the sake of curiosity and trivia, we thought you might like to know that we as Americans consume on average 48 pints of ice cream per person per year, the most of any country!

Much thanks to the International Dairy Foods Association, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the New Hampshire Agricultural Market Bulletin, New Hampshire (NH) Agriculture in the Classroom, and especially our Farm Staff here at Stonewall for revealing the art and science behind ice cream goodness.

We look forward to seeing your summer ice cream photos on Facebook and hopefully see you at the Farm on Sunday for our Bike for Bovines Race & Ice Cream Day!

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Stonewall Farm Ice Cream Profiles, Photo Courtesy of Matthew Young

2013 Stonewall Farm Trail Map

While we overhaul our current website at Stonewall Farm in favor of something more (daresay) modern and user-friendly, we wanted to give you a glimpse of a new feature on that website: our 2013 Stonewall Farm Trail Map.

Drafted earlier in May 2013, this chronicles mile after mile of our current trail system for hikers, bikers, horse riders, cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and other trail users. We also include our physical contours of landscape, key farm landmarks, ecosystem types, and trail etiquette on our first page. On our second page, you can access a whole listing of community summer events here at Stonewall, from the Ice Cream Social this Saturday (June 29th) through to our August 17th Barnyard BBQ. There is also information on how to become a Stonewall Farm Member or Steward, our CSA and Farm Store offerings, and more!

Feel free to click the map link below to begin your Stonewall journey!

2013 Stonewall Farm Trail Map

Much thanks to the Brattleboro (VT)-Keene (NH) Chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) for mapping and laying the final touches of this trail map!

Meet Heather Gringeri, Events Coordinator

Heather Portrait

Education Background

I acquired my Bachelor’s Degree at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH. While attending the University I studied Recreation Management and Policy, Departmental Option: Program Administration. While there, I also obtained a minor in Justice Studies and Business Administration.

How I Decided This was the Career for Me

Deciding on a major at UNH was actually a daunting task for me.  It took numerous visits with my advisor, my entire freshman year really, to decide what I would study. Looking back I had always been a planner. In High School I was involved in many recreational activities some of which allowed me to plan social events, class events, fundraisers, etc.  Elaborating on some of my experiences during my advising appointments pushed me more and more so in the direction of RMP basically a fancy name for (event management).

Work Experience

My biggest accomplishment in my high school years really set my on the journey to becoming an Event Coordinator. In High School I had an excellent opportunity to join the prom committee which used my floor plan for our Italian Garden Themed $13,000.00 wedding; complete with a gym full of turf cobblestone pathways, and a working stone water fountain.

Throughout college my major was fortunate enough to give me tons of hands on experience. Some of my experience started to take off my sophomore year of college where I had the opportunity to work with Durham Parks and Recreation to take over planning Spookfest which was an event the organization had experienced a lack of time to plan. I also worked with the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company my sophomore year to plan the 2010 UNH Homecoming Cruise which was a kick off to the homecoming weekend. The summer after my junior year I was also fortunate enough to find an internship. For fourteen weeks I worked fulltime at Visit Canada ltd. in Portsmouth, NH where I helped create/price trip itineraries, prepare client documents, book trips with clients, as well as with vendors.  During my senior year I was rehired with the company and fulfilled the role of Operations Coordinator assisting all departments. School also allowed for a few other great opportunities including event coordinating for Todd’s Trott 5k race/walk, volunteering with Newmarket Heritage Festival, and also with Dover Apple Harvest Day, etc.

As graduation neared, by job search not only began, but intensified! To begin my search I had started researching for positions near my hometown. Really I was just looking for anything that could give me more experience in Event Coordination. Naturally, being a planner, not knowing what was going to happen with my future after graduation was extremely overwhelming.  I had originally interviewed for an event staff position with the Farm, unsure of where my future was going to really take me, I was not going to close the door on that opportunity, but was simply going to keep the door open for whatever was going to happen. A week later it seemed the door suddenly led to the perfect opportunity with the Event Coordinator position opening at the farm. I was beyond ecstatic! Two days after graduation I began working at the Stonewall Farm in Keene, NH. Taking on the role has been a welcome and exciting challenge. It really is neat to continue doing what I love, something that I am familiar with, working for a business I had actually been unfamiliar. I have learned a lot about the nonprofit business world, as well as how important Stonewall Farm is to the surrounding community. It is reassuring to know that my event coordinating  can help make a difference here as all rentals help support our mission!