Maple syrup tapping at Forgotten Foods Farm near Olive Hill, Kentucky
When temperatures start dropping below freezing, Kentuckians watch for the “sap run,” or optimal time to drill trees to begin making maple syrup.
Channing Richardson and wife, Amy, run Forgotten Foods Farm near Olive Hill with the help of their children Bryum and Thelia.
In 2014, the family moved back to the family tobacco farm, raising vegetables, which they continue to sell at farmers markets.
That fall, while walking in the woods, Channing noticed a patch of sugar maples. “We tapped 15 trees the first year, using buckets,” he says.
He now taps 500 trees a year over about two days. A continuous tubing system drains sap into tanks. Every day or so, it is pumped into larger containers and hauled to the sugar shack, then drained into an evaporator, which is a large cooking pan. There, it is boiled from 10 hours up to days before being filtered and bottled.
Channing teaches biology full time at Maysville Community & Technical College. As with many small farm operators, farming is his second job.
“Our kids inspired us to move back home,” says Amy. “We wanted our children to grow up immersed in the process of growing their own food from the ground up. My passion is to be good stewards of the land for them.”
Forgotten Farms, served by Grayson RECC, is a home-based processor with a license that requires the public to purchase syrup at the farm. It’s unlikely that the Richardsons will sell syrup this season due to COVID-19.
Check the Kentucky Maple Syrup Association for a list of producers across the state.