. . . maple leaves, moon, sky . . .

... thoughts and news and observations ...

Mark has been a supporter of organic agriculture and an avid eater of organically-raised foods for most of his adult life. He joined forces with the folks at Organic Maple Co-op in the early summer of 2010. In Organic Maple Leaf Rag he explores the meaning and importance of the word “organic,” in food and agriculture. He also looks into the small world of organic maple syrup, and the daily activities of the Co-op. Both author and Co-op are based in Cashton, Wisconsin – a village whose weight in the organic-agriculture movement is disproportionate to its size.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Why maple syrup ...

Martha and I have a pair of towering maple trees in our front yard. The one nearer the road, each spring, gives great satisfaction to the ants living in our yard and our neighbor Mary’s lawn. In the exuberance of its brief sap-flow, the maple fairly drips a tree-rain. Slightly sticky to the touch, the drops rank high as delectables among the six-legged clans.

The tree farther from the road drips much less noticeably – perhaps a sign of its being less robust, even if equally impressive of height. It suffered some wounding in the past. The remaining signs of that wounding make us wonder, sometimes, about how many years it has left.

We tap these two trees for their sap ... only in our imagination.

More pertinently, with regards to our involvement with maple syrup, a pair of buildings sit toward the northern part of what we call uptown, in Cashton (“uptown,” because of Cashton being located on a broad ridge, with the main streets occupying the higher parts).

These buildings house the offices, work areas and warehouse that are behind the Maple Valley brand of organic maple syrup.

Organic Maple Co-op, the idea for which arose after the Maple Valley brand was established, has its base here, too.

Not all the maple-syrup work here is sticky … although, come to think of it, even Martha’s work of packing up shipping boxes involves a considerable amount of tape. Between other tasks, she takes and deals with orders that come in via telephone, e-mail, and surface mail.

Distinctly sticky, however, is the work that has fallen into my hands, in recent months: for I deal directly with barrels of syrup … with pumps and hoses and tanks … with jugs and bottles.

Cheers ...

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