With so many sweeteners lining supermarket shelves, it can be hard to choose what to stir into your tea or pour over your granola. So why not choose local?
For maple syrup producer Tonewood, that means replacing food that is shipped in from distant places with good quality options from local sources, and Tonewood’s pure maple syrup is extracted the old fashioned way from the trees right here in Boston’s back yard.
Now I grew up in Texas, where “maple syrup” meant any nondescript squeeze-bottle of amber-colored corn syrup. It wasn’t until I was in college that I learned the difference between “pancake syrup” and the real thing.You know, the kind from trees.
One of my friends was from New Hampshire, and when I asked him if he missed the cold weather, he’d always say, “No, but I could use some maple syrup.”
So after I took a trip to New England, I couldn’t wait to present him with a souvenir bottle of real maple syrup. As he peeled off the plastic safety film, I expected him to smell it. Instead, I watched the guy lift the bottle to his lips and knock it back in three gulps.
After such a glowing endorsement, I’m pretty excited to try some of Tonewood’s products at the Boston Local Food Festival. Founded in March 2012, Tonewood is based in Mad River Valley, Vermont. Founder Dori works in the sugarbush alongside her family and other local farmers to produce four grades of maple syrup, from the darkest, most potent Grade B to the more delicate Fancy syrup, along with several solid maple products, such as maple flakes and maple cream (I NEED to spread this stuff on toast).
Tonewood partners with two nearby sugaring family farms – Vasseur and Hartshorn – to produce single-sourced, unblended gourmet maple. When maple lovers adopt a tree through Tonewood’s adoption program, it supports the families at Vasseur and Hartshorn who have been extracting maple from the steep slopes of Vermont for generations.
What makes the team at Tonewood especially unique, though, is their dedication to preserving small-scale maple farming. Environmental changes and economic pressures threaten the maple industry in the U.S., and through the 1% for the Planet program, 1% of Tonewood’s profits go towards efforts at University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Centre to combat climate change and its effects on the maple industry. Tonewood also participates in their neighborhood farmers’ market in Waitsfield each Saturday.
Tonewood is looking forward to the Boston Local Food Festival, where they’ll be spreading the maple love.
“We want people to get to know who is behind the bottle or jar. We are part food, part mission. We want to help preserve small-scale maple farming and tell people about the artisans (and their culture and history) behind our distinctive maple products.”
When I get to Tonewood’s booth at the festival, I’m not sure I’ll drink the syrup straight, but I’ll definitely snag a few goodies and get cooking.