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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First Week on the Farm

“Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.”

-Wendell Berry, A Place on Earth

      Hello Everybody!

                To all those who know me, might not know me, or are starting to know me, my name is Matthew Young, but you can call me “Matt” or “Mateo” as well. Since this past Tuesday, I have been grateful to have started as Communication Manager here at Stonewall Farm. While I may be new to the farm, I’ve been in Keene since August 2011, just graduating from graduate school at Antioch University two weekends ago. Since then, and especially during this first week of mine at the farm, I have been learning and re-learning just what it means to put lessons from school into meaningful practice professionally, let alone on as extensive in operations of a farm such as Stonewall.

                On my first day on Tuesday alone, I did no less than to help Josh Cline (our Executive Director) design a summer ad for the local Peterborough Players’ theater playbill for their summer season; to haul and deliver compost with Josh to the Monadnock Waldorf School in Keene; and to package and seal vanilla yogurt crafted on-site with Alan Bettler (our Visitor Services Director) and Sarah Antel (our Education Director). It’s proven somewhat mellower since then, but the drive and stamina of work here reminds me of no dull moments ahead and of the sheer opportunity to give back to land that gives us food, recreation, and much more.

                Over the coming weeks and seasons, I will do my best to capture the ecological events, the  cycles of farm life, the relationships between people and this place, and hopefully the relationships between food, people, and the land. Such ideas include “sustainability” and comparable terms, but ideas which also challenge us to become more aware of how much in common we do have.

                 When we realize how grass-fed diets for dairy cattle enhance the nutritional offerings in cheeses, milk, and yogurt we consume, we can then realize why we need to conserve and protect our soil and water resources to maintain grassy, healthy pastures. When we realize how purchasing farm-grown basil, strawberries, and tomatoes at Stonewall returns local money, which in turn builds healthier and stronger farms which create stronger local and regional economies, we can then realize why we need to target our purchasing with place and price in mind.

                  These lessons and others through frequent posts alongside photos, videos, and audio will hopefully grow an online community of people more capable, passionate, and ready to support an all too real and unique place such as Stonewall Farm. Furthermore, as events such as the June 29th Ice Cream Social, the July 14th Bike for Bovine Race & National Ice Cream Day, and the August 17th Barnyard BBQ come together, a vibrant community will continue taking shape. As farmer and writer Wendell Berry once wrote:

                  “Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.”

                    My hope as part of the farm crew will be to help you and as  many people as are interested to discover for yourself the world of Stonewall Farm and its niche in Keene and Cheshire County, but also how the farm connects back to the rest of New Hampshire, the United States, and even the rest of the planet.

                    I hope you join us to see what awaits at Stonewall Farm, summer, fall, winter, and spring!

Image

Photo courtesy of Matthew Young

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!

Your Farmer, a note

Austin Mandryk is the new Farmer here at Stonewall Farm. If you are interested in signing up for a garden share, please visit: http://www.stonewallfarm.org/Products/CSA. For more information, please review the sign-up brochure , contact Austin at amandryk@stonewallfarm.org, (603) 357-7278 x112, or stop by the farm at 242 Chesterfield Road.

Austin

I am a very slow reader of French. It was so long ago that they tried to teach us. But there, on the first page of Terre des hommes, Saint-Exupéry writes, “Le paysan, dans son labour …” The peasant, in his, not labor, but ploughing. And so I learned, to labour is to plough. The word is too old to be sure of its provenance, but probably, labere, to slip, to totter, to stumble under a burden. And this is what we choose for ourselves? The heavy weight we slip beneath? The labour? The plough?

On questions. What is the thing you do with your body? What are the colors of your life? What is the big thing all your days are moving around? Where is your water? And, as a question itself, what are the questions you live your life by? Sometimes it takes a question to know we have an answer inside us. And so this one: Just what is it that you are bringing into the world?

I have thought for a long time about our creative power, about what we as humans have: an existence that our very touching changes–for better, for worse, the world and the hearts of others. We cannot know what we do does, but maybe it is in tenderness that we can move, and with a kind of faith. And so this labour, this plough, this answered question. This farming.

When I lived in the Catskills, every night I walked a mile home along a dark road that was in memory unpaved. I walked the same way John Burroughs did, that once famous author who went fishing for trout on Biscuit, Highfalls, the Neversink, the very streams and holes I swam in after runs, or in the middle of them. He died long ago, but the miracle of words is not to still hear him, but to know that what he felt, we feel: “[H]e who goes in a right spirit will not be disappointed, and will find the taste of this kind of life better, though bitterer, than the writers have described.”

Better, though bitterer. For some it was not lost, but there is happening now the reclamation of an old feeling. I mean, work and rest, and where it happens; how the earth is woven all through it. It may be more bitter, this weighted slip that made us first call out, “laber.” But for some of us, aren’t we born for what is hard? And the way rest feels when the body needs it? Isn’t this spot the confluence of so many rivers we had been following? I love growing your vegetables. It is good for my heart; and, in the end, I hope, for yours. There is much said of “Good to Great,” but, look, on the other side of greatness is goodness, and that is something else altogether.

Though as for me and all this talk of work, I’m with Rabbi Heschel: “I did not ask for success; I asked for wonder.” But I have had my fortune, and it has been the good kind, the good kind.

For the health of all of you and all of your parts,
See you at the farm,
Austin

Meet Sarah Antel, Education Director

Sarah Biography

My interest and education in agriculture and the outdoors began in my childhood growing up on a small farm in Northeast Ohio.  I ate eggs laid by our chickens, watched goat kids be born, vegetables grow be harvested and preserved, and the seasons change.

After graduating college I volunteered for a year with an AmeriCorps/Student Conservation Association program in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts.  A portion of this program introduced me to teaching where we taught environmental education and science in nearby schools.  I spent the next few years teaching at various environmental education centers through out New England.

In 2004 I graduated from Antioch New England University with a Master’s in Education and New Hampshire teacher certification.  I was a classroom teacher for two years as well as a farmer raising pigs, beef cattle and a substantial layer flock.  I found I missed teaching children outdoors and desired to integrate agriculture into the lessons I taught.  Serendipity smiled and I found this job at Stonewall Farm.  I have been here for five years and am still learning new skills and love my job.

If you want to learn more about the many educational programs Stonewall Farm offers for school children, home school groups, and the general public, visit us at: http://www.stonewallfarm.org/Programs.

We have a blog!

Hello everyone! My name is Sarah Loomis and I’m the new Communications Manager at Stonewall Farm. As part of my time here, I will be blogging about life here on the farm – covering everything from how our yogurt is made to what we are selling in our farm stand. Our blog will serve many functions but hopefully you will learn more about all Stonewall has to offer and also about the rich history of  New England farming. Consider subscribing to our blog to receive regular posts highlighting our upcoming events, information about our farm stand products, or to learn about educational opportunities that you can be a part of.

I'm looking forward to the Sap Gathering Contest in March!

I’m especially looking forward to the Sap Gathering Contest in March! For a full listing of events check out our website.