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VVS: Sweet industry

The 13th annual Maple Producers Winter Conference and Trade Show, held at the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Central School now for nine years in a row, offers a central location for maple producers and equipment manufacturers to get together and share insights and news of the latest technologies.

I love it -- it's a great trade show, said Tony Corwin, a farmer and maple producer from Lake Placid. It's really a great place to come and talk with a bunch of like-minded folks.

Focusing on maple syrup production and promotion, forest management and the production and marketing of a variety of maple-related products, the conference was organized by the VVS FFA, the Cornell University Cooperative Extension and the New York State Maple Producers Association.

It kicked off after school on Jan. 4 with the trade show presenting a hands-on look at the latest equipment and technologies of exhibitors from all over the country and Canada displaying evaporators, vacuum pumps, tubing supplies and processing equipment. That evening also featured a keynote address by Dave Evans, director of Nelson Farms -- a state-of-the-art processing facility for small scale food processors, farmers and producers -- offering an overview on developing the maple market.

The educational fun continued Jan. 5 with a full day of workshops on subjects ranging from sugarhouse management and proper refractometer use to maximizing sap production and management of invasive destructive insects.

Coleen Strong of the St. Johnsbury, Vermont-based "Farming Magazine" was one of the 27 exhibitors who came to display their products in the VVS gymnasium-turned-industry trade show. She has attended the conference at VVS four or five times over the last 10 years, she said, and she is always impressed by the FFA's organization of the event.

I really like the attendance I see here, with so many maple producers coming out, Strong said. I highly advise anyone who has anything to do with maple to attend; it's always very informative.

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