VERONA — A record-breaking year for Vernon-Verona-Sherrill FFA (Future Farmers of America) maple syrup production was reported Tuesday by the VVS school district.
In wrapping up its production season last month, the VVS FFA boiled 104,125 gallons of sap, compared to last year’s 70,552 gallons, the VVS district said.
The high sap intake allowed the organization to produce just under 2,000 gallons of its sweet maple syrup, according to the district announcement, adding “they broke all previous records on sap intake this year, due to a complete reconstruction of the sugarbush sap lines.”
Community partnerships were a key to the success, said the district.
With the help of VVS FFA alumnus and volunteer Brian Schieferstine, students “did a full reconstruction of the sugarbush/woodlot, removing all previous tubing and installing brand-new lines” plus adding more main lines, the announcement said. In total, 750 taps were utilized throughout the woodlot.
In February, Abe Arak from AA Vineyards of Fredonia came to help the VVS FFA with its willow harvest, said the district, noting the willow chips allow students to run their evaporator as efficiently as possible. This year it took them just five hours to harvest the willow. The willow harvest is expected to last them about two full years.
VVS alumni and community members were also instrumental in growth of the maple production, the district said. Brian Schieferstine volunteered his time as woodlot manager, overseeing the renovation which increased the sap yield. The FFA also bought sap from VVS FFA alumni Josh Schieferstine and Neil Collins, which allowed them to make even more sweet maple syrup for sale. Collins and other VVS FFA alumni helped students working in the sap house get things done efficiently, often boiling sap late into the evening, the district added.
The FFA organization expressed thanks to “everyone who volunteered their time and talents in this effort.”
VVS FFA Secretary Rachel Champney said “this year I was able to take more control of the sap house and help to run it, so I’m proud to say that this year was a record-breaking year in many ways.”
VVS FFA member Peter Makarchuk added “this year is my first year since being in the Junior FFA that I participated in the High School VVS FFA Program, so I’m glad that I got to spend it learning and working in the sap house and sugarbush. I hope to encourage more students of next year’s new class to also learn about maple production.”