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. 


The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer

The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer

By Joel Salatin

Foodies and environmentally minded folks often struggle to understand and articulate the fundamental differences between the farming and food systems they endorse and those promoted by Monsanto and friends. With visceral stories and humor from Salatin's half-century as a "lunatic" farmer, Salatin contrasts the differences on many levels: practical, spiritual, social, economic, ecological, political, and nutritional.

In today's conventional food-production paradigm, any farm that is open-sourced, compost-fertilized, pasture-based, portably-infrastructured, solar-driven, multi-speciated, heavily peopled, and soil-building must be operated by a lunatic. Modern, normal, reasonable farmers erect "No Trespassing" signs, deplete soil, worship annuals, apply petroleum-based chemicals, produce only one commodity, erect Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, and discourage young people from farming.

Anyone looking for ammunition to defend a more localized, solar-driven, diversified food system will find an entire arsenal in these pages. With wit and humor honed during countless hours working on the farm he loves, and then interacting with conventional naysayers, Salatin brings the land to life, farming to sacredness, and food to ministry.

Divided into four main sections, the first deals with principles to nurture the earth, an idea mainline farming has never really endorsed. The second section describes food and fiber production, including the notion that most farmers don't care about nutrient density or taste because all they want is shipability and volume. The third section, titled "Respect for Life," presents an apologetic for food sacredness and farming as a healing ministry. Only lunatics would want less machinery and pathogenicity. Oh, the ecstasy of not using drugs or paying bankers. How sad. The final section deals with promoting community, including the notion that more farmers would be a good thing.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer

Joel Salatin

Paperback $25.00

Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation

Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation

By Tradd Cotter

What would it take to grow mushrooms in space? How can mushroom cultivation help us manage, or at least make use of, invasive species such as kudzu and water hyacinth and thereby reduce dependence on herbicides? Is it possible to develop a low-cost and easy-to-implement mushroom-growing kit that would provide high-quality edible protein and bioremediation in the wake of a natural disaster? How can we advance our understanding of morel cultivation so that growers stand a better chance of success? 

For more than twenty years, mycology expert Tradd Cotter has been pondering these questions and conducting trials in search of the answers. In Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation, Cotter not only offers readers an in-depth exploration of best organic mushroom cultivation practices; he shares the results of his groundbreaking research and offers myriad ways to apply your cultivation skills and further incorporate mushrooms into your life—whether your goal is to help your community clean up industrial pollution or simply to settle down at the end of the day with a cold Reishi-infused homebrew ale. 

The book first guides readers through an in-depth exploration of indoor and outdoor cultivation. Covered skills range from integrating wood-chip beds spawned with king stropharia into your garden and building a “trenched raft” of hardwood logs plugged with shiitake spawn to producing oysters indoors on spent coffee grounds in a 4×4 space or on pasteurized sawdust in vertical plastic columns. For those who aspire to the self-sufficiency gained by generating and expanding spawn rather than purchasing it, Cotter offers in-depth coverage of lab techniques, including low-cost alternatives that make use of existing infrastructure and materials. 

Cotter also reports his groundbreaking research cultivating morels both indoors and out, “training” mycelium to respond to specific contaminants, and perpetuating spawn on cardboard without the use of electricity. Readers will discover information on making tinctures, powders, and mushroom-infused honey; making an antibacterial mushroom cutting board; and growing mushrooms on your old denim jeans.

Geared toward readers who want to grow mushrooms without the use of pesticides, Cotter takes “organic” one step further by introducing an entirely new way of thinking—one that looks at the potential to grow mushrooms on just about anything, just about anywhere, and by anyone.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation

Tradd Cotter

Paperback $39.95

Perennial Vegetables & Perennial Vegetable Gardening with Eric Toensmeier (Book & DVD Bundle)

Perennial Vegetables & Perennial Vegetable Gardening with Eric Toensmeier (Book & DVD Bundle)

By Eric Toensmeier

Imagine growing vegetables that require just about the same amount of care as perennial flowers and shrubs, need no annual tilling or planting, yet thrive and produce abundant and nutritious crops throughout the season.

Get the best information on growing these easy and interesting crops from Eric Toensmeier's award-winning book Perennial Vegetables, and tour his own lush forest garden in the new DVD, Perennial Vegetable Gardening with Eric Toensmeier

About Perennial Vegetables:

In Toensmeier's book, Perennial Vegetables (Chelsea Green, 2007), the adventurous gardener will find information, tips, and sound advice on less-common edibles that will make any garden a perpetual, low-maintenance source of food. In his book, readers will find perennial vegetables are perfect as part of an edible-landscape plan or permaculture garden. Profiling more than a hundred species, with dozens of color photographs and illustrations, and filled with valuable growing tips, recipes, and resources, Perennial Vegetables is a groundbreaking and ground-healing book that will open the eyes of gardeners everywhere to the exciting world of edible perennials.

About Perennial Vegetable Gardening with Eric Toensmeier (DVD):

In the DVD—a culmination of workshops recorded in Mexico, Florida, and Massachusetts—plant specialist Eric Toensmeier introduces gardeners to more than 100 species of little-known, underappreciated plants. Ranging beyond the usual suspects (asparagus, rhubarb, and artichoke) to include such delights as ground cherry, ramps, air potatoes, the fragrant spring tree, and the much-sought-after, antioxidant-rich wolfberry (also known as the goji berry), Toensmeier explains how to raise, tend, harvest, and cook with plants that yield great crops and culinary satisfaction. Toensmeier also takes viewers on a plant-by-plant tour of his garden in Massachusetts.

Available in: Mixed media product

Read More

Perennial Vegetables & Perennial Vegetable Gardening with Eric Toensmeier (Book & DVD Bundle)

Eric Toensmeier

Mixed media product $59.95

Integrated Forest Gardening

Integrated Forest Gardening

By Wayne Weiseman and Daniel Halsey and Bryce Ruddock

Permaculture is a movement that is coming into its own, and the concept of creating plant guilds in permaculture is at the forefront of every farmer’s and gardener’s practice. One of the essential practices of permaculture is to develop perennial agricultural systems that thrive over several decades without expensive and harmful inputs: perennial plant guilds, food forests, agroforestry, and mixed animal and woody species polycultures.

The massive degradation of conventional agriculture and the environmental havoc it creates has never been as all pervasive in terms of scale, so it has become a global necessity to further the understanding of a comprehensive design and planning system such as permaculture that works with nature, not against it. The guild concept often used is one of a “functional relationship” between plants–beneficial groupings of plants that share functions in order to bring health and stability to a plant regime and create an abundant yield for our utilization. In other words, it is the integration of species that creates a balanced, healthy, and thriving ecosystem. But it goes beyond integration. A guild is a metaphor for all walks of life, most importantly a group of people working together to craft works of balance, beauty, and utility.

This book is the first, and most comprehensive, guide about plant guilds ever written, and covers in detail both what guilds are and how to design and construct them, complete with extensive color photography and design illustrations. Included is information on:

•    What we can observe about natural plant guilds in the wild and the importance of observation;
•    Detailed research on the structure of plant guilds, and a portrait of an oak tree (a guild unto itself);
•    Animal interactions with plant guilds;
•    Steps to guild design, construction, and dynamics: from assessment to design to implementation;
•    Fifteen detailed plant guilds, five each from the three authors based on their unique perspectives;
•    Guild project management: budgets, implementation, management, and maintenance.

Readers of any scale will benefit from this book, from permaculture designers and professional growers, to backyard growers new to the concept of permaculture. Books on permaculture cover this topic, but never in enough depth to be replicable in a serious way. Finally, it’s here!

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Integrated Forest Gardening

Wayne Weiseman, Daniel Halsey, Bryce Ruddock

Paperback $45.00