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3D Valley Farm

Indiana-grown Sweetness
3D Valley Farm produces maple syrup and other farm delicacies

Thoughts of sweet maple syrup poured over a stack of pancakes conjures images of New England and Canadian maple forests. One Depauw, Indiana, farm is changing that image.

The owners of 3D Valley Farm in southern Indiana harvest sweet syrup from 40 acres of maple trees that they tap each winter. The maple syrup season usually starts at end of December and runs until the end of March.

“Earlier in my career, I worked for several years in the maple woods of Michigan. About 10 years ago we decided to add maple products to our farm marketing mix,” says Steve Carr, who runs 3D Valley Farm with his wife, Jane, and their daughters, Jo Ellen, Leigh and Morgan.

Southern Indiana is on the southern edge of the maple sap-producing region. Maple trees must experience repeated cycles of freezing nights and warmer daytime temperatures of about 40 degrees to create the pressure needed to push the sweet sap out of the tree via a tap.

“At night when the trees freeze, sap runs from the branches to the roots. During the day, the sap runs back up into the top of the trees. We collect it both ways,” Steve says.

Instead of individual buckets hanging from individual tree taps, the Carrs’ farm is equipped with a tube line that runs through the woods to collect the sap from 2,500 tree taps.

“Our season starts before the Northeast and doesn’t last as long, because they get a lot of the freezing-thawing cycles every day,” Steve says. “Temperature has a lot to do with both quality and quantity of the syrup produced.”

Weather conditions the summer before harvest can also affect the sugar content of the extracted maple sap. Sunlight helps to fill the tree’s leaves with chlorophyl, which helps develop the sap’s sugar content. A cloudy, rainy summer will reduce sugar content.

“Sometimes it takes more sap to achieve the ideal sugar content and create quality maple syrup,” Jane says. “It took 60 to 70 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup this year. The sugar content was low this winter, and that goes back to the cool, cloudy days we had last summer.”

Maple products produced and sold at the farm’s store include maple syrup, maple sugar, maple cream and maple candies.

Maple syrup production, though, is just a small part of 3D Valley Farm offerings. The farm also produces free-range heritage chickens, grass-finished beef cattle, pasture-raised pigs and sheep.

Farm-raised beef, pork, eggs, honey and other products are available at the 3D Valley Farm store, through its website, and at a local farmers market

“We direct market all of our products to local restaurants and consumers through the farm store and our farm website,” Jane says.

To learn more, visit Facebook or the farm’s website at https://3dvalleyfarm.com.

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