November 4, 2016
One Massachusetts maple syrup producer took a top honor for her product and another was recognized for his decades of dedication to the industry at the North American Maple Syrup Councils annual competition, held last week in Burlington, Vermont.
Melissa Leab of Hancock, MA, won first place in the Maple Cream category, and further beat out all other entries to claim Best of Show among all Maple Products. Sugarmakers from the United States and Canada submitted 170 entries into the contest, making for very tough competition in each category. Leab and her husband Rob own and run Ioka Valley Farm, and Melissa is also President of the Massachusetts Maple Producer Association.
"It was an honor to hear that the judges felt that my maple cream stood out from all of the other excellent products," said Leab. "I'm proud to represent Massachusetts in this way - there are so many great sugarmakers in our state, making so much good pure maple syrup and other pure maple products."
Sugarmaker Tom McCrumm, owner and operator of South Face Farm in Ashfield, was chosen for inclusion in the American Maple Hall of Fame for his decades of commitment to supporting and promoting the maple industry.
"It was a big surprise to be chosen for the American Maple Hall of Fame," said McCrumm. "After 45 years of involvement in the maple syrup industry it is a great honor to be among two of my mentors already in the Hall - Lew Staats from Cornell University, and Linwood Lesure from Ashfield, Massachusetts who built the sugarhouse which I now own."
The induction ceremony will be held at the American Maple Hall of Fame in May in Croghan, New York.
There are more than 250 maple sugaring operations in Massachusetts, many of which sell their products directly to consumers at farmstands and farmers markets. A directory of sugarmakers who sell maple products to the public can be found at www.massmaple.org. The 2016 sugaring season was record-setting, with Massachusetts maple producers making about 77,000 gallons of 100% pure maple syrup.
The Massachusetts Maple Producers Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of maple sugaring in Massachusetts.