Family Tradition

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A photography series documenting traditional small scale maple sugar production in New England.  Part of an ongoing series and personal project by photographer Edward M. Fielding.

The images in the exhibit were taken during the 2013 sugaring season in Hartland Four Corners, Vermont.

Traditional Vermont Maple Sugar House

Vermont Maple Sugar Shack

Steam billowing from the top of this traditional maple sugar shack built on the Bowers farm in Hartland Four Corners, Vermont caught my eye and began the part of the series.  The feeling inside of a working sugar house is in sharp contrast to the outside.  Inside is warm, humid and smells sweetly of wood smoke and sugar.  Outside a late winter chill still holds on with a firm grip.

Feeding the Beast

Traditionally wood is used to boil the raw maple sap in large stainless steel devices called evaporators.  The idea is to provide lots of surface area for the excess water to escape from the watery sap.  A large supply of wood is needed and often when the evaporators are started, they don’t stop until all the collected sap is processed.

Checking the maple syrup

Checking the Maple Syrup

Raw sap is collected by “tapping” trees.  The watery sap is collected into large drums and then trucked over to the sugar house where it is dumped into a large reservoir outside of the house.  Inside the evaporator operator can turn a value to let in fresh sap.  As the sap boils the operator is constantly checking the product with a small shovel type tool for just the right amount of drip or stickiness.

Family Tradition

Family Tradition

Grandpa Bowers monitors the maple sap boiling in the evaporator as his grandson watches through the mist. His father who is now 94, built the classic Vermont maple sugar shack back in 1954.  Four generations of Bowers men involved in producing this authentic, natural, sweet liquid gold – pure Vermont Maple syrup. Hartland Four Corners, Vermont, March 2013.

Maple Sugar Tap
Close up of a maple tree with tap and bucket
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