UVM Libraries and Maple: A Sweet Partnership

image via racineur on Flickr “Dimanche des sucres” (sugar on snow)


Vermont = maple.

Vermont is the largest producer of maple in the United States, having produced 1.14 million gallons of the sweet stuff in 2011, or approximately 41% of the country’s maple syrup supply. (I’m also convinced that we are the largest consumer of maple syrup. True Vermonters travel with a half-pint “just in case” and offer it up for pancakes, bacon, even coffee! I just don’t have the statistics to back this claim.)

Maple has a long and storied history in the Green Mountain State. The Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association, formed in 1893, is reputedly one of the oldest known agricultural organizations in the country. Research on maple syrup – and the sugar maple – dates back to the 1890s, when C.H. Jones studied sugar maple physiology to better understand the flow of sap.

In 1948, the country’s first permanent maple research station was built, Proctor Maple Research Center, which thrives to this day as a University of Vermont agricultural experiment station, sharing scientific advancements with producers across the state and beyond. Celebrating the community of maple sugaring, the Vermont Maple Festival has been going strong since 1966. In short, for the past 125 years, Vermont has been a leader in the field, producing seminal research on maple production, maple chemistry, and maple technology, but also in celebrating the joy and spirit of this truly local food.

To preserve this history, the UVM Libraries partnered with the National Agricultural Library and the Agriculture Network Information Center (AgNIC) to create the Maple Research Website. This website serves as a portal to a breadth of maple information, including the history of maple, maple collection and production technologies, and a maple recipe collection.

(left to right) Dr. Tardiff, Dr. Bois, Dr. Marvin, and Dr. Taylor

The highlight of this portal is the Maple Research Collection, which offers access to digitized primary resources that document the history of maple research at the University of Vermont. In collaboration with the UVM Center for Digital Initiatives, this collection includes the University of Vermont Agricultural Extension bulletins on maple research spanning 1890-1988. The collection also includes a selection of photographs from the Proctor Maple Research Center, taken between 1948-1957, that document the construction of the field station’s first sugarhouse, as well as their sugar bush and early maple experiments.

Adding to the depth of what is available digitally, the UVM Department of Special Collections displayed a wealth of historically, scientifically and culturally unique maple material in its 2010 “It’s Always Maple Time in Vermont” exhibit.

Check out the Maple in Special Collections (Flickr Slideshow). 

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