Enosburgh, Vermont - March 20, 2009
The ker-plunk of sap into a bucket and the cloud of steam from a sugarhouse can only mean it's maple syrup season in Vermont. Nathan Johnson, a teenager from Enosburgh, says, "I love making it!"
But this isn't just any sugarhouse, it's a classroom. The Cold Hollow Career Center's forestry program runs one of the largest high school sugaring operations in the United States. Johnson says, "It takes a lot of concentration. And you've got to pay attention to every little detail."
Tech students learn firsthand about the traditions and techniques that make Vermont the leader in the maple industry. Some kids already have a basic background from relatives who are sugarmakers, but here, the teenagers are in charge.
Instructor Ed Lidster adds, "At home, they might not be able to run the evaporator. It's a very expensive piece of equipment so they may not be able to run it. Here, they run everything."
The kids collect sap in old-fashioned buckets and also with modern tubing. When it comes to boiling it down, they study the science of syrup by figuring out sugar content and the density of their product. Student Jordan St. Pierre of Enosburgh says, "It's definitely really light, the stuff we've pulled off. It's fancy, so that's good!"
Cold Hollow even has professional business relationships, selling much of its syrup wholesale to an internet specialty food retailer. Businesswoman Kim Dudley says, "The customer remarks are, 'Wow, we can buy syrup anywhere, but if we buy it from Pieces of Vermont, we actually can give back to a high school program.' And they think it's great."
That money helps buy equipment and jackets for the kids preserving their state's sweetest tradition.
The lone female student in her class, Ashley Holbrook of Berkshire chirps, "Everybody likes Vermont maple syrup the best!"
Of course she and her fellow students in this Grade A class are all partial to what's "Made in Vermont."
Jack Thurston - WCAX News - Made in Vermont
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