Maple museum open at Jed’s Maple Products

CN-MR-2-MAPLE-MUSEUM-02by Bethany M. Dunbar

DERBY, VT — A steady stream of visitors braved the back roads for Vermont’s maple open house weekend March 28 and 29. Many of them found their way to Jed’s Maple Products to visit the sugar makers’ new maple museum and see a working arch fired by steam created with used vegetable oil.

While young Jonah Wheeler served up maple pizza to open house visitors, his father Steve Wheeler gave tours of the working sugarhouse. Just up the hill a short walk, Jonah’s grandfather Merle was holding court in the maple museum, answering questions from curious tourists and telling stories of his adventures sugaring over the years. Among the artifacts on display in the museum are a wooden sap bucket, 20 examples of spouts used over the years, a vertical metal “settling tank” with a spigot an inch or so off the bottom and a cast iron maple sugar cake mold. The mold would be used to make regular rolls most of the year and sugar cakes during maple season. [Read more…]

Makes house calls

CN-MR-2-HOUSE-CALLS-006by Laura Rodley

When travelling veterinarian Stephanie Vassar arrives in her truck and takes two suitcases out of her truck, she is not moving in. She is carrying her Universal Myrad 60 digital x-ray machine to x-ray horses’ legs, checking for arthritis and other medical issues of her patients.

“It’s super cool,” she said. When asked how much it cost, she answered, “More than my truck,” a 2013 Toyota 4-Runner. She bought the x-ray machine a month ago for her new business, Great Falls Equine And Veterinary Services based in Gill, MA that she opened at the beginning of March. She travels all over Franklin County, as far east as Phillipston, up to Southern Vermont and as far south as Southampton and South Hadley, treating sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas and smaller backyard cattle herds.

[Read more…]

Promoting native bee pollinators in organic farming systems

by Katie Navarra

Honey bees are the most widely known pollinator species. However, recent research shows there are numerous pollinator species and that the more diverse the species the increased pollination benefits. “There are thousands of bee species, some are solitary, some nest in the ground, others in twigs and trees,” explained David Crowder, Assistant Professor of Entomology at Washington State University.

During an eOrganic webinar, Crowder and Elias Bloom, a Ph.D. student in Entomology working in Crowder’s lab, discussed the diversity of native bees in farming systems and the roles they may play in supplement or replacing honey bees for pollination services.

“The decline of bees is a major issue globally,” Crowder added. Protecting all pollinators, including wild bees, is like providing insurance against the loss of honey bees. “If anything happens to honey bees or another species, when a rich, diverse population is present, it offsets the decrease in population,” he added.

Though findings from experimental tests are limited, the available studies suggest that as the number of pollinator species increases, seed production is also greater. “Only when there were up to 9 or 10 bee species is the efficiency similar to that of manual pollinating,” he said. [Read more…]

Driven to grow local grains

CM-MR-3-Tebbe-9by Karl H. Kazaks

LEESBURG, VA — Morven Park is a 1,000-acre property with a historic mansion that was once the home of Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis. Davis was an advocate for agriculture and one of the founders of the Virginia Dairymen’s Association. Today, his estate is run by a non-profit organization that has a mission to serve the public in a number of ways. To meet its agriculture mandate, the park has started a farm incubator program. The first participant in that program is Three Monkeys Farm, a local grain operation helmed by Trent Tebbe. Tebbe grew up on a grain farm in Indiana, where his family grew corn and soybeans for grain and seed, as well as wheat and popcorn.

[Read more…]