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Maple Creek Farms, Burnsville, N.C., Feb. 19, 2011; Reader Photo by Warren Reed

Reader photo by Warren Reed
Maple Creek Farms Evaporator
Maple Creek Farms, Burnsville, N.C., Feb. 19, 2011
Go here for more of Warren’s photos

Photographer’s notebook

Maple Syrup? Yancey County, North Carolina? I’ve always associated maple syrup with New England. My wife read about Maple Creek Farms in the “2010 Local Food Guide” published by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. Maple Creek Farm’s website indicated the 2011 maple tours would be on February 19 and 20. Being there to see the sap boiling down to syrup was an absolute given.

It was a fascinating visit. Given the steep topography of the picturesque farm, tapping the sugar maples for sap has to be a labor of love. Staff obviously loved sharing their craft with visitors. Yes, we had a sample of sap. Tasted like water with a faint touch of sweet. No surprise that it takes 40 plus gallons of sap from their trees for one gallon of syrup.

The sap is boiled in a modern looking, wood fired evaporator with shiny, stainless compartments for the sap. To me, it appeared a fascinating piece of equipment. The photo was shot with overhead room lights and natural light from the room’s open front. It a quick shot, handheld at 1/40 with lens at 18mm.

I never tire of exploring Western North Carolina.

Truth delivered daily

Warren Reed, Sugar Hill, Ga.

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Editor’s note:

Maple syrup in Yancey County got us thinking about farming across Western North Carolina.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has, of course, collected information about the number of acres each county has in farmland, the number of livestock and the amount of cash receipts farming brought in.

The most recent numbers, from a 2007 census of agriculture, showed that about 17 percent of Yancey County’s nearly 200,000 acres were devoted to farming. The average farm size was 75 acres. Cash receipts from 2009 showed that farming brought in more than $7.6 million, ranking it 93rd out of the state’s 100 counties.

Michael Walden, a professor in Agriculture and Resource Economics at N.C. State University issued countywide data reports on agriculture across the state, too. In 2008, he said, there were 1,129 people working in agriculture in Yancey County, which was a nearly 20 percent share of county employment. Go here for links to Walden’s PDF reports for all 100 counties.

Here are the Department of Agriculture’s county-wide reports on agriculture in the 17 Western North Carolina counties, for viewing and downloading:

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Angie Newsome

Angie Newsome is the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at anewsome@carolinapublicpress.org.

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