Forest owners tour Thurman maple sugarbush

THURMAN-Forest owners from across the state were invited to a late winter "Woodswalk" event recently at Toad Hill Maple Farm to learn effective forest management techniques and see new maple syrup producing equipment in action.

A group of 21 members of the New York State Forest Owners Association trekked on snowshoes through Toad Hill's "sugarbush," or their acres of woods. during the excursion Feb. 26, they heard the enterprise's owners, Randy and Jill Galusha, offer tips on managing forest lands for not only a return on one's investment, but with ecological goals in mind, too.

A total of 21 members of the association attended, observing a vacuum maple sap collection system.

Randy Galusha and forester John Hastings explained how the sugarbush is managed to improve tree health and increase sap production. They also explained how trees are tapped, the sap flow process and the advantages vacuum equipment offers.

The group toured the new state-of-the-art sugarhouse at Toad Hill, which was recently completed with the help of a grant from the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Energy for America program.

The installation includes a new energy-saving reverse osmosis system plus a new wood-fired evaporator that uses wood grown on the property instead of fuel oil, Randy Galusha said.

They foresters shared lunch and conversation in the sugarhouse kitchen, where Toad Hill will soon be creating maple confections like maple cream, maple sugar and maple candy.

Toad Hill Maple Farm will be one of four operations in Thurman holding open houses during the state Maple Weekends to be held the last three weeks of March. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both Saturdays and Sundays these weekends, the maple farms will be hosting visitors and conducting guided tours, demonstrations of tapping trees, boiling sap and candy-making - all at no charge. Other Thurman sites participating will be Adirondack Gold Maple Farm and Valley Road Maple Farm, which has the added attraction of a pancake breakfast that begins each day at 9 a.m.These maple farms are joined by Martin's Lumber, where people can see a rural sawmill in operation, as well as live craft demonstrations.

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