Farming Magazine - December, 2009

SUGARING

Northeast Maple Business: International Meetings

By Larry Myott

Attendees at the Maine-hosted international maple meetings raved about the sessions, the facilities and the hospitality. The attendance was in the normal range, and the tours were reported to be excellent. IMSI President Gary Gaudette said, “This conference was one of the best maple sessions that I have attended, and that’s a lot of them.” The committee deserves a lot of praise; the international convention is one big job. The committee works for at least two years in planning for hotels, meals, educational sessions, tours, agendas for meetings and to make the planned sessions attractive to at least 200 sugar makers from 16 or so states and provinces.

The Maine session was followed by a northern Maine sugaring tour into the large sugaring areas of the state. This tour was carried out when the session was held in Maine the last time, about 12 years ago. After the conference, a large group of sugar makers loaded busses and traveled around nearly for three days, seeing some of the world’s largest sugar maker sites and the latest in maple technology. All participants raved about the tours and their tour guides.

A highlight of the Maine meetings was the IMSI’s passing of the proposed changes to the world grading system for maple syrup. The IMSI has been working on this issue for eight years. They have carried out years of marketing research, dozens of committee studies and many hours of meetings around the maple world to gather feedback and seek help in making sure the design was right. President Gaudette said he was pleased to see this proposal adopted by the board of directors and the general membership as well. Executive Secretary Dave Chapeskie will be releasing all the details in the near future.

Special awards

Each year the IMSI presents awards for outstanding work in the international maple syrup industry. The Golden Maple Leaf Award is presented to a nominee who has shown outstanding leadership in maple market development. This nominee can be a player on the international scene or a more local player in a region, state or province. The winner of the award for 2009 was announced as the Citadelle Maple Syrup Producers Cooperative of Plessisville, Que. They are the world’s largest maple cooperative and one of the oldest. They market all over the world, with special emphasis on Asia and Europe. In recent years, they have expanded into South America. The award was presented to Citadelle by President Gary Gaudette, “outstanding maple market development efforts and programs.”

Maple Hall of Fame nominees announced

Russ Davenport, chair of the Maple Hall of Fame selection committee, announced the selected candidates for induction into the Hall of Fame in 2010. One New Hampshire sugar maker will be inducted at the May ceremonies in Croghan, N.Y.

Bruce Bascom of Alstead, N.H., was nominated and selected to join an august group of maple people at the American Maple Museum. Bascom is president of Bascom Maple Farms, the largest maple producer in New Hampshire and one of the largest in the United States. He joins his father, Ken Bascom, who was inducted a number of years ago.

Bruce Martell of Vermont was also selected. Martell is not a maple producer, but most maple producers would be glad to have him in the sugarhouse or woods anytime of the year. Martell is a 34-year employee of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture that has maple syrup running in his veins. He has held many positions in the agency, but his first love is always working with maple people in all sorts of promotions, educational sessions and more importantly quality control. He is known as a watchdog in the maple industry, always on the lookout for violations of the worlds’ pure maple syrup laws.

The museum opens on the third Saturday in May for a season of tourists and sugar makers. This large museum is housed in a former high school building that was converted many years ago into a museum for the maple industry. The induction and opening of the museum will take place on May 15, 2010, in Croghan.

Nominations for the Hall of Fame can be made by individuals, associations of a state or provincial maple organizations. Those nominations must be accompanied by a biography highlighting the nominee’s involvement in the maple industry. Both of these nominees have worked exceedingly hard for the maple industry.

Heiligmann receives Reynolds Award

Dr. Randy Heiligmann of The Ohio State University, who retired in June, was presented the Lynn Reynolds International Maple Syrup Industry Leadership Award by the IMSI. Heiligmann, who was unable to attend, was sited for his outstanding work in the international industry. He was first an educator, who was always willing to teach and present programs that helped to modernize the maple industry over the last thirty years.

Heiligmann is best known for his work in the development, writing and editing of the Maple Syrup Handbook. Dr. Gary Graham of Ohio State accepted the award in his absence and thanked the IMSI for the honor bestowed not only on Heiligmann but also to The Ohio State University.

The author is a retired extension maple specialist who continues to report on maple news from around the maple world. Comment or question? Visit www.farmingforumsite.com and join in the discussions.