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Collinsville Author Takes a ‘Real’ Look at Maple Sugaring in New England

April 20, 2016 Arts and Entertainment, Community No Comments

By John Fitts 

It’s easy to wax nostalgic about Maple Sugaring. But while it might contain elements of tradition, David K. Leff’s recent book on the subject is no mere trip down memory lane.

Rather in “Maple Sugaring: Keeping it Real in New England,” Leff writes about current state of the industry, its hobbyists, longevity, innovations and ongoing threats.

Through personal stories of producers in all six New England states. Starting in 2008, he interviewed some 85 sugar makers before the book was published last year.

Few make a living with the pursuit but producers come from all walks of life, said Leff, long-time Collinsville resident.

“You name a walk of life and I’ll find a sugar maker,” Leff said. “Sugar makers are so interesting.”

In the book, Leff talks about other aspects of sugaring, such as environmental threats to area maple trees, such as  invasive species and global warming. Leff also conveys the art and science behind sugaring.

Innovations such as reverse osmosis, which drastically reduces boiling time and tubing, which save time and labor costs, were really key as to why sugaring remains practical for so many.

“That was an important element in saving sugaring,” Leff said.

As a former sugar producer and board member of the Maple Syrup Producers’ Association of Connecticut, Leff had an insider’s look and gained the trust of his subjects.

“I had a lot of access and people would talk to me frankly,” Leff said.

While Quebec is, by far, the world’s largest producer of Maple Syrup, New England is also known for its syrup and related products and the pursuit has many outdoors, social and other benefits.

“It’s a very traditional Yankee occupation and it’s a marker of place,” Leff said.

“Maple Sugaring: Keeping it Real in New England,” with a hardcover retail price of $24.95, is available at several local stores including the Canton Historical Museum, Village Sweet Shoppe and Barnes and Noble.

It can also be purchased at several online sites and e-book versions are available. See more at http://www.upne.com/0819575692.html. Learn more about Leff at http://davidkleff.typepad.com.

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