“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.”
Welcome to July!
As summer rolls in and we mourn the loss of so many beloved traditions and activities due to the pandemic, we’re also faced with examining some uncomfortable truths about our country and ourselves. I like this quote from French philosopher, Albert Camus as it encourages one to ponder how we can improve in our lives and our actions, given our freedom.
For me, being better has been to more actively support local organizations that improve the lives of community members. It has also meant fostering supportive relationships with other small business owners through social media and donations to kickstarter campaigns.
I think we’re all better when we consider our connectedness and use commonalities to grow. When small businesses support each other, we all succeed. During this time when we could all retreat and feel a deep sense of isolation, I am instead feeling a swell of creativity, ingenuity and collective helpfulness. Read on to learn more about who we’re partnering with, a delicious new product and some maple inspired beverages.
We love meeting field technicians! This summer marks the first of a 2 year study looking to test the effectiveness of the Bird-Friendly Maple Project. Our sugarbush is one of the sites and every few weeks a team comes up to check their data. The last group was a trio of students from the University of Vermont. This is a wonderful description of what the work entails, written by UVM senior Sam Blair. Thank you Audubon Vermont and Vermont Center for Ecostudies for investing in our environment and providing sugar makers with an incentive to steward sugar bushes in a way that supports migratory birds. To read more about Vermont ecosystems check out this great Field Guide to July.
The tiny and vulnerable Bicknell’s Thrush is one of the migratory birds who summer in Vermont’s high altitude spots. Amazingly, this little bird flies all the way to the Dominican Republic for the winter months. When I began researching and experimenting with our new product, Maple Sugar Chocolate Fudge Sauce, I really wanted to find a way to use sustainably sourced cacao. Amazingly, local restaurant 3 Squares Cafe imports cacao beans from a bird sanctuary in the Dominican Republic. Zorzal Cacao supports research teams from Vermont Center for Ecostudies and houses the same birds who summer with us! The commonalities between this cacao and our bird friendly maple are multi-layered and really speak to the connectedness of our world. The birds know it, and humans are catching on. I’m still working on the exact recipe that will combine our Couching Lion Maple Sugar, Zorzal Cacao and local cream and butter. Stay tuned for an update in August!
The pandemic has brought many challenges to small businesses who rely on Farmers Markets and making social connections with new customers. However, the ingenuity of Vermonters never ceases to amaze and new ways of doing business are springing up all over! One local business owner in Burlington has started Bbz Delivery Collective, which is truly the equivalent of a virtual Farmer’s Market. You can purchase local bread, cheese, flowers and of course Couching Lion Maple Sugar! Items are delivered to your home or there are various pick up spots.
A similar idea has been conceived by A Slice of Vermont. This site will ship gourmet specialty foods from various vendors all over the United States. We have just partnered with them and our maple syrup, maple sugar, spice blends and caramel will be on their site next week!
At the end of the day, which is always crammed full of work and also a lot of fun (gardening, tennis and walks with my sugar dog Archie), I love to sit on the deck and drink a cocktail. I’m currently enjoying Maple Tequila Gimlets. In a shaker, combine 2 ounces of tequila, 1/2 an ounce fresh lime juice, I/2 an ounce of Couching Lion Maple Syrup. Shake well and serve over ice or in a chilled glass.
A nice cold glass of Maple Lemonade is also a great way to end the day. Mix up 1/2 cup Couching Lion Maple Syrup with 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice. Add 3 cups of water or seltzer and serve with plenty of ice and lemon slices.
Enjoy the rest of beautiful July. Here are some pictures from our neck of the woods.
The sugarbush is full of ferns and songbirds.
Archie keeps the chipmunks on notice…..
View from the Gator as Matt heads out to cut some wood. This little vehicle has been a welcome, leg saving addition to our farm!
Maple syrup deliveries take me to the most beautiful places. This customer lives on the shore of Lake Champlain.
Working away but struck by the beauty of this spot. School will reopen soon and sugar business will be back to nights and weekends!
As always, thank you for your support, encouragement, humor and interest in the maple sugar world. We are infinitely grateful to all of you who show up in our lives in different ways. Enjoy being with family and friends again and the beautiful months ahead.
XO Chaska and Matt