WHAT WE DO
Americans are experiencing a renaissance of do-it-yourself agriculture and food processing; people are gardening, keeping orchards, poultry and other livestock, planting vineyards, brewing their own beverages and preserving foods in increasing numbers, even in densely populated areas. Naturally, many people would like to make their own maple syrup as well!
The good news is, all you really need in order to acquire maple sap is some simple, inexpensive and easily accessible pieces of equipment (a drill, some spiles, and some lidded pails) and a couple of mature maple trees.
The bad news is that unless you are prepared to make a sizeable investment in a sugar shack, a professional-grade evaporator, or—for those of us who attempt the turkey-pan-on-grill method (don’t do it!)—an embarrassing amount of propane, you can’t make that sap into syrup. What is the backyard sugaring enthusiast to do?
Vermont Evaporator Company, LLC, located in Montpelier, Vermont, is focused on manufacturing small, home-scale sap evaporation units for the backyard sugaring enthusiast that are easy to use and available at a price point well below the industrial products on the market today. As an initial offering, VEC has developed the Sapling, a wood-fired barrel evaporator made from a retrofitted 55-gallon drum and a baffled stainless steel evaporating tray priced for the household at $795. Not just an evaporator, the Sapling doubles as a wood-fired grill in the off-season.
In addition, VEC is currently developing a smoker attachment and a cover to further enhance the unit’s versatility and longevity. VEC also plans to develop the Seedling, an even more affordable graded tray designed to work with standard-sized backyard grills, in time for the 2017 sugaring season.
In coming years, VEC plans to offer propane and hybrid (wood/propane) models and models in custom colors and designs. VEC also plans to develop a warming pan accessory to enhance efficiency, and sell other accessories for the amateur sugaring enthusiast such as hand drills, spiles, filters, lidded buckets, sap storage containers, fire brick, bottling supplies, and seasoning oil.
WHO WE ARE
When we moved our family to a house on 10 acres of trees - including maple - in Montpelier, we decided to try our hands at sugaring. We figured that with two small children, we went through a good amount of syrup, and needed an excuse to get outside when the winter sporting season had passed anyway. So we bought some buckets and spiles, read a book, and like so many before us, just went for it.
The first two years were not ideal. After rejecting the idea of an indoor boil, we decided to use the Thanksgiving Turkey's broiling pan on our propane grill. It took forever, and we spent as much or more in propane as we would have just buying the syrup outright, which was pretty depressing. During year two, we rested and homebrewed a batch of porter with our maple sap instead. That was less depressing, but didn’t result in quite as much outdoor time or offset the kids’ syrup requirements either.
By year three, we were ready to try, try again, so we put in our twenty-five taps. Justin looked everywhere for a backyard sap evaporator that didn’t cost a fortune, didn’t necessitate the construction of a sap house, and could be moved around when not in use, but ultimately came up empty. So he invented one and tested several versions before settling on a final design. Then, for a kick, Justin manufactured a dozen in the family garage. As it turned out, these first units all sold in less than two weeks to some very happy and satisfied customers all over New England and New York! The Vermont Evaporator Company, and its Sapling, were born!
After we cleaned and put away our tray for the year---and with gratitude for the five gallons of syrup we made on our own Sapling---Kate decided that running a small company that makes a fun, quality product, employs people from our own community and promotes a traditional, outdoor activity was just the job she had been looking for. She put away her lawyer clothes, found an industrial space in downtown Montpelier, learned more than she ever wanted to know about high-temperature paint, freight shipping, and forklifts, and, together with Justin, began the process of starting up!
WHY WE DO IT
Our goal is to provide small, home-scale sap evaporation units for the backyard sugaring enthusiast that are easy to use, versatile, and available at a price point accessible to the amateur.
We are positioned to serve a need not currently being provided for in the marketplace, which offers only large, single-use, expensive, professional grade products.
Our mission? To inspire amateur syrup making by giving individuals access to the tools they need to make syrup right in their own backyards.
Our promises? To make high quality products using environmentally and socially responsible business practices, including by sourcing materials locally wherever possible. To be good to our employees and give our customers excellent service. To be good corporate citizens. To keep improving, but to never take ourselves too seriously! This should be fun for us too!
HELP MAKE IT HAPPEN
Now we’re tapping YOU! Find out how you can help us grow our business with an investment of as little as $250! As you know, it takes a lot of sap to make syrup. Help feed the boil! Localvest in us.
VERMONT EVAPORATOR IN THE NEWS:
02.09.17 Vermonters Create Portable Evaporator to Make Maple Syrup (WPTZ)
03.25.17 Striking Gold (Times Argus)