Chelsea Green Publishing

The Sugarmaker's Companion

Pages:344 pages
Size: 8 x 10 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603583978
Pub. Date October 16, 2013

The Sugarmaker's Companion

An Integrated Approach to Producing Syrup from Maple, Birch, and Walnut Trees

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
October 16, 2013


The Sugarmaker’s Companion is the first guide of its kind addressing the small- and large-scale syrup producer seeking to make a profitable business from maple, birch, and walnut sap. This comprehensive work incorporates valuable information on ecological forest management, value-added products, and the most up-to-date techniques on sap collection and processing. It is, most importantly, a guide to an integrated sugaring operation, interconnected to the whole-farm system, woodland, and community. Farrell documents the untapped potential of American forests and shows how sugaring can turn a substantial profit for farmers while providing tremendous enjoyment and satisfaction. 

Michael Farrell, sugarmaker and director of the Uihlein Forest at Cornell University, offers information on setting up and maintaining a viable sugaring business by incorporating the wisdom of traditional sugarmaking with the value of modern technology (such as reverse-osmosis machines and vacuum tubing). He gives a balanced view of the industry while offering a realistic picture of how modern technology can be beneficial, from both an economic and an environmental perspective. Within these pages, readers will find if syrup production is right for them (and on what scale), determine how to find trees for tapping, learn the essentials of sap collection, the art and science of sugarmaking, and how to build community through syrup production. 

There are many more unique aspects to this book that set it apart from anything else on the market, including:

•    A focus on maple as a local, sustainably produced and healthy alternative to corn syrup and other highly processed and artificial sweeteners;
•    The health benefits of sap and syrup in North America and throughout the world;
•    Attention to the questions of organic certification, sugarhouse registration, and the new international grading system;
•    Enhancing diversity in the sugarbush and interplanting understory crops for value-added products (ginseng, goldenseal, and mushrooms, specifically);
•    An economic analysis of utilizing maple trees for syrup or sawtimber production and the market opportunities for taphole maple lumber;
•    The value of sap as a healthful and profitable energy drink;
•    Detailed analyses on the economics of buying and selling sap;
•    Lots of great information on marketing to create a profitable business model (based on scale, interest, and access), and more. . . .

Applicable for a wide range of climates and regions, this book is sure to change the conversation around syrup production and prove invaluable for both home-scale and commercial sugarmakers alike.


Library Journal-
"The art of sugaring (tapping trees to make syrup) is enjoyed by home hobbyists and commercial farmers alike. Here, Farrell uses his experience as director of Cornell University’s Uihlein Forest, a maple syrup research station, to create a comprehensive volume on the subject. Traditional and modern techniques are combined with a multitude of how-to’s on topics that include finding trees, collecting sap, processing, and marketing. Farrell also covers niche markets, such as tapping birch and walnut trees for sap and syrup, and outlines how to create a viable and profitable sugar-making business. Full-color images, along with charts and highlighted topics, make this book accessible to both the beginner and the ­experienced sugar maker. VERDICT While the wealth of information may seem daunting to novices, this work is a required reference for those who are seriously exploring sugar making as a small- or large-scale business. Hobbyists will find innovative techniques and ideas to broaden their scope of knowledge."


"Anyone who enjoys a good pancake breakfast now and then knows the difference between artificial, fructose-laced concoctions and authentic maple syrup harvested directly from trees. The natural version of this elixir also trumps the competition by containing abundant beneficial nutrients, an interesting detail that is just one among thousands readers will discover in this comprehensive guide to 'sugarmaking,' the common term for turning sap into syrup, by Cornell University researcher Farrell. The author, who taps some 5,000 maples every year at a scientific field station in Lake Placid, New York, offers a wealth of expertise to entrepreneurs hoping to turn a profit in the popular, still-growing maple syrup business. In more than 350 well-illustrated pages, Farrell covers everything from locating prime tapping trees and the basics of syrup collection to syrup grading systems and marketing strategies. While the manual is directed mostly at landowners with enough trees for a high production operation, novices interested in tapping a few backyard maples for a flavorful treat will also benefit from Farrell’s seasoned advice."

“Having quality 'go to' sources of information for the sugarmaker, whether they are new to the craft or experienced is wonderful. When research is done and compiled into easy to read and understand formats that hold the interest of the reader, it benefits the sugarmaker and the maple industry. Today's sugarmakers are hungry for sources just such as this to learn all they can to improve techniques, efficiency, and quality in their operations. This book is a wonderful resource!”--Glenn Goodrich, owner, Goodrich Maple Farms

“Dr. Farrell’s book is a must for any novice or beginning sugarmaker. It clearly explains the industry, products, and processes of maple sugaring. For experienced sugarmakers this is a book to join the Nearings’ The Maple Sugar Book and the North American Maple Syrup Producers Manual--always on the shelf for ready reference. Thanks to Michael for a welcome addition to the maple library.”--David Marvin, president, Butternut Mountain Farm

“In The Sugarmaker’s Companion, Michael Farrell presents both a philosophical and a practical look at today’s tree sap and syrup industry.  The book provides pertinent and useful information for both hobby and commercial tree tapping operations.  In a changing industry that is heavily shadowed by tradition, Michael combines the old tested methods with up-to-date research and science.  This comprehensive book looks at both the big picture and many of the small details.  Even for non-sugarmakers, it will be an informative and enjoyable read.”--Gary Backlund, author of Bigleaf Sugaring: Tapping the Western Maple

“Mike Farrell’s The Sugarmaker’s Companion should be on every maple producer’s bookshelf. Along with the North American Maple Producers Manual and resource notebooks from Steve Childs, it is an essential reference resource. It contains a substantial amount of information not found elsewhere, especially marketing ideas, novel products, economic analyses, and creative ideas for expanding markets for pure maple products. Topics that are covered elsewhere receive updated treatment. Difficult concepts are explained well with attractive illustrations. The author’s enthusiasm for this engaging business is displayed through an easy-to-read conversational style containing many personal anecdotes and opinions. There is a good amount of firsthand information from many hours spent in the woods, in the sugarhouse, and involving his community in enriching their lives with maple. Mike’s positive point of view and creative ideas will encourage sugarmakers to engage a broader audience of potential customers.”--Brian Chabot, professor, Cornell University

“Thomas Jefferson urged all farmers to plant maple trees, so that the colonies would not have to rely on imported sugar. In this spirit, Michael Farrell provides us with everything we need to know to produce America's own, natural, delicious sweetener. The section on maple sap--a healthy beverage that deserves a place in the American diet--is especially welcome.”--Sally Fallon Morell, president, The Weston A. Price Foundation

The Sugarmaker’s Companion is a delightful read. For the family with access to a few trees, or the larger sugarbush owner, the information provided in this book will be an affirmation of their efforts. The book delves into not only the maple harvest, but also many of our lesser-known tree resources, as well as fascinating facts like the nutritional benefits of maple sap. The message is clear. To preserve our forests we must enjoy them. . .yummy!”--B. Keith Harris, B.Sc., owner/CEO, Troll Bridge Creek Inc.

The Sugarmaker’s Companion is an amazing book.  It uniquely fills the gaps in currently available maple reference material.  It does not repeat what is in the North American Maple Syrup Manual but perfectly supplements it with up-to-date information, fresh ideas, and interesting examples.  It also does not try to duplicate the details in the New York State Maple Tubing and Vacuum Notebook and the New York State Maple Confections Notebook but wonderfully adds to the ideas in these areas.  It is the first book that integrates the making of other tree-based syrups such as birch and various nut species with the production of maple, improving the efficiency of equipment use and market opportunities.  This is a great reference for all tree lovers.”--Stephen L. Childs, New York State Maple Specialist

“This most useful book for tree tappers is especially valuable because it includes the most up-to-date information on all the facets of the sap and syrup business. Particularly written for those in commercial sugaring, the book is also most interesting for the hobbyist or beginner who may not be aware of the amazing advances that have been made in the business lately. The book also gives detailed information on the tangential commercial and hobby possibilities in sugaring that are seldom examined in earlier books.”--Gene Logsdon, author of A Sanctuary of Trees


Michael Farrell

Michael Farrell serves as the director of Cornell University’s Uihlein Forest, a maple syrup research and extension field station in Lake Placid, NY. There he taps approximately 5,000 maples, 600 birch trees, and a couple dozen black walnut and butternut trees every year. He has authored more than fifty articles on maple syrup production and forest management and often presents to maple producer and landowner organizations. Michael earned his bachelor's in economics from Hamilton College, his master's in forestry from SUNY-ESF, and his PhD in natural resources from Cornell University. 


Old Southern Apples

Old Southern Apples

By Creighton Lee Calhoun

A book that became an instant classic when it first appeared in 1995, Old Southern Apples is an indispensable reference for fruit lovers everywhere, especially those who live in the southern United States. Out of print for several years, this newly revised and expanded edition now features descriptions of some 1,800 apple varieties that either originated in the South or were widely grown there before 1928.

Author Lee Calhoun is one of the foremost figures in apple conservation in America. This masterwork reflects his knowledge and personal experience over more than thirty years, as he sought out and grew hundreds of classic apples, including both legendary varieties (like Nickajack and Magnum Bonum) and little-known ones (like Buff and Cullasaga). Representing our common orchard heritage, many of these apples are today at risk of disappearing from our national table.

Illustrated with more than 120 color images of classic apples from the National Agricultural Library’s collection of watercolor paintings, Old Southern Apples is a fascinating and beautiful reference and gift book. In addition to A-to-Z descriptions of apple varieties, both extant and extinct, Calhoun provides a brief history of apple culture in the South, and includes practical information on growing apples and on their traditional uses.

Available in: Hardcover

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Old Southern Apples

Creighton Lee Calhoun

Hardcover $75.00

Home Baked

Home Baked

By Hanne Risgaard

Recipes and techniques for baking artisan bread using organic stone-milled flour, organic yeasts, sourdoughs, and more from renowned Danish organic farm and family-owned mill, Skærtoft Mølle-literally translated as "Cut-Road Mill"-situated on Als, an idyllic island in the southeast of Denmark.

Hanne Risgaard offers recipes for unique bread and pastry that bring a Nordic approach to bread baking that feels worlds away from most conventional baking books. At Skærtoft, there is a belief in organic, small-scale-produced whole grains, traditional stone-ground milling techniques, use of wild fermented sourdough, organic yeast, and attention to terroir. Their farm produces some of the highest-quality, nutrient-rich grain available. In fact, Copenhagen's celebrated restaurant NOMA, recently accorded a "World's Best Restaurant" award, uses Skærtoft Mølle products. Indeed, the growing movement of Nordic cuisine centers on its devotion to high-quality regional produce, the creativity of the chef, and a sound awareness of the workings of nature. This set of principles also serves to guide Hanne Risgaard in Home Baked.

Risgaard offers practical information not only on the concepts and processes behind creating delicious Scandinavian breads, but also concise growing and cultivation information about the grains themselves, as well as a guide to basic equipment and kitchen set-up, ingredients, and the history of Skærtoft and their philosophy. At the beginning of each recipe there is a brief story contextualizing where the recipe comes from. Their world comes alive!

Home Baked includes detailed sections on: baking with yeast; sourdoughs; baking without a raising agent (pies, cakes, cookies, crackers); and covers grains such as wheat, spelt, barley, and rye. The breads include unique ingredients like foraged herbs and greens, such as the Cocotte with Ramsons (either put directly in the bread dough or preserved in a syrup of pearls of rye and sea buckthorn berries); as well as other interesting standouts like the Buns for Tilters (with apple and yogurt, prepared for the annual horse games), Green Knots (made with stinging nettle, in honor of the fight to save the nettle in France), Rosemary Sourdough, Elderflower Muffins, and more.Perfectly timed for the growing interest in Scandinavian, and particularly Danish, cuisine, Home Baked is a must-have for the bread lover's library.

Available in: Hardcover

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Home Baked

Hanne Risgaard, Jeffrey Hamelman, Marie-Louise Risgaard

Hardcover $39.95

Natural Beekeeping

Natural Beekeeping

By Ross Conrad

Today's beekeepers face unprecedented challenges, a fact that is now front-page news with the spread of "colony collapse disorder." Newly introduced pests like varroa and tracheal mites have made chemical treatment of hives standard practice, but pest resistance is building, which in turn creates demand for new and even more toxic chemicals. In fact, there is evidence that chemical treatments are making matters worse.

It's time for a new approach. Now revised and updated with new resources and including full-color photos throughout, Natural Beekeeping offers all the latest information in a book that has already proven invaluable for organic beekeepers. The new edition offers the same holistic, sensible alternative to conventional chemical practices with a program of natural hive management, but offers new sections on a wide range of subjects, including:

  • The basics of bee biology and anatomy
  • Urban beekeeping
  • Identifying and working with queens
  • Parasitic mite control
  • Hive diseases

Also, a completely new chapter on marketing provides valuable advice for anyone who intends to sell a wide range of hive products.Ross Conrad brings together the best "do no harm" strategies for keeping honeybees healthy and productive with nontoxic methods of controlling mites; eliminating American foulbrood disease without the use of antibiotics; selective breeding for naturally resistant bees; and many other detailed management techniques, which are covered in a thoughtful, matter-of-fact way.

Whether you are a novice looking to get started with bees, an experienced apiculturist looking for ideas to develop an integrated pest-management approach, or someone who wants to sell honey at a premium price, this is the book you've been waiting for.

Available in: Paperback

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Natural Beekeeping

Ross Conrad, Gary Paul Nabhan

Paperback $34.95

The Soul of Soil

The Soul of Soil

By Joseph Smillie and Grace Gershuny

Soil is the basis not only for all gardening, but for all terrestrial life. No aspect of agriculture is more fundamental and important, yet we have been losing vast quantities of our finite soil resources to erosion, pollution, and development.

Now back in print, this eminently sensible and wonderfully well-focused book provides essential information about one of the most significant challenges for those attempting to grow delicious organic vegetables: the creation and maintenance of healthy soil.

Chapter 2, "Understanding the Soil System," is alone worth the price of admission. Gershuny and Smillie give lay readers and experts a clear explanation of subjects--soil life and nutrient cycles--that have confounded most authors. Nowhere will the reader find simpler and more coherent descriptions of key concepts including cation exchange capacity and chelation.

There are other books about soil available, including Grace Gershuny's comprehensive Start with the Soil, and there are books that feature chapters on soil building. What distinguishes The Soil of Soilis the authors' concise presentation; they give readers important information, including technical essentials, without getting bogged down in scientific or quasiscientific mumbo-jumbo. In addition, useful tables list specific compost materials, green manures, and other resources that allow growers to translate into action the more general information provided by the book.

The soil-building techniques featured include:

  • Organic matter management
  • Building and maintaining humus
  • On-site composting
  • Green manures and rotations
  • Cultivation and weed control
  • Nutrient balances and soil testing
  • Using mineral fertilizers
  • Planning for organic certification

Updates to the 1999 edition include analysis of Proposed Rules for the National Organic Standards, and expanded recommendations for private testing services and soil-testing equipment for home gardeners and organic farmers.

All of us involved in the cultivation of plants--from the backyard gardener to the largest farmer--need to help regenerate a "living soil," for only in the diversity of the soil and its creatures can we ensure the long-term health of ourselves and our environment. The Soul of Soil offers everyone a basic understanding of what soil is and what we can do to improve our own patch of it. Seen in this light, this practical handbook will be an inspiration as well.


Available in: Paperback

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The Soul of Soil

Grace Gershuny, Joseph Smillie

Paperback $25.00