REGION — During the 35th Annual Maine Maple Sunday, producers explained production methods to scores of visitors.

True Mountain Maple owners Mark Prentiss and Kim Roberts of Industry participated for the first time. They built their sap house two years ago, adding a new evaporator last year. 

“Everybody does it differently. That’s what is so fun,” Prentiss said. “I couldn’t have done this 10 years ago. Changes in technology allow us to do it.”

Smaller tubing creates a natural vacuum at their mountainside sugar bush. A reverse-osmosis machine concentrates the sap, decreasing the time needed.

“We’ve used six cords of wood (and) boiled 505 gallons syrup from 25,000 gallons of sap so far,” Prentiss said. “It’s a learning curve.”

He said he in 1980 purchased the property from his grandfather, who bought it in the 1930s. He will pass it on to his three children.

“It’s exciting,” Prestiss said. “Another form of agriculture to support Maine and save trees.”

Cousin John Prentiss lives just down the road. He, too, is getting into the syrup business, but for now is having his sap boiled at Plaisted Farm Maple Products in Jay.

Owner Brandon Plaisted has added a new, oil-fired evaporator that is half a foot wider and three feet longer.

“We’re having a really good season,” Plaisted said. “We can process 1,500 gallons sap per hour.”

He uses reverse osmosis. All taps are on a vacuum line. Most of the syrup is siphoned into large barrels, which is easier during boiling. 

“We bottle as needed during slower times,” Plaisted said.

For Sue Hanson of Pemaquid, the Plaisted farm was her first stop of the day.

“I personally like the wood(-fired) operations because of the smell,” she said. “This is impressive.”

Sara St. Laurent of Mt. Vernon was also visiting the Jay sap house where son Tyler sampled ice cream with maple syrup.

“We’ve been taking the kids for the past 4 years,” she said. “We try to go somewhere different every year.”

At Black Acres Farm in Wilton, three generations were busy selling products, giving out samples or talking about the animals.

Russell Black explained to Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, 2nd District, how Black’s new evaporator works.

“By using a pre-heater and reverse osmosis, I’m taking sap from 1.4 percent to 4 percent sugar,” Black said. “I’m making six or seven gallons of syrup per hour.”

“When people run small businesses, they develop needed skills,” Poliquin said. “There aren’t enough people in Congress with business skills.

“Agriculture is important to Maine. It’s great to see so many kids here learning about maple syrup and farm animals.”

And those animals have many fans.

“The chickens are all over the place!” Clara Chaisson of Wilton said on her way back from the barns.

Added James Black: “People love seeing the farm animals. Kids can race around and play in the sawdust and hay.”

Meantime, Isabella Russo of West Gardiner took off a glove so she could feel the softness of baby chicks’ feathers.

Said Black, “We plan ahead to have baby animals for Maine Maple Sunday.”

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Mark Prentiss adds more wood to the evaporator at True Mountain Maple in Industry during the 35th Annual Maine Maple Sunday. This was the first time Prentiss and wife Kim Roberts participated. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)

Maple syrup producers welcomed visitors during the 35th Annual Maine Maple Sunday. At Plaisted Farm Maple Products in Jay, Josh Blodgett at right fills a container with syrup for a hydrometer reading while Kevin Plaisted looks on. A reading of 59 while hot indicates the syrup is ready for filtering and bottling. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)

During the 35th Annual Maine Maple Sunday, Maine Second District Congressman Bruce Poliquin at left passes wood to Russell Black to add to the firebox at Black Acres Farm in Wilton. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)

During the 35th Annual Maine Maple Sunday, visits to the farm animals at Black Acres Farm in Wilton were popular. Rowan Lancaster at left and Brecken Black pet a baby calf. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)

True Mountain Maple in Industry participated in Maine Maple Sunday for the first time this year. Sap boiling in the evaporator has almost become syrup. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser) 

Local sap houses opened to the public during the 35th Annual Maine Maple Sunday on March 25. Seen at Plaisted Farm Maple Products in Jay from left are Kevin Plaisted, Tyler Doucete, Jackson DiPace, Sue Hanson and Brandon Plaisted. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)


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