Stockton University hopes to put New Jersey on the maple syrup map
Many who think about maple syrup do not typically think of South Jersey as a large manufacturer of the product. But an ongoing program at Stockton University is hoping to put the region on the map, all thanks to a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture.
“What I do is volunteer my time between classes to collect sap… boil the sap and create the product,” says Stockton junior Abigail Murphy.
Murphy helps run the maple syrup operation on campus. The university started the program two years ago. It has grown from a few dozen red maple trees tapped to a few hundred.
"We have 400+ trees, I believe the actual number is 420 trees connected all with this blue tubing. Inside of this shed…there's an intense vacuum that is applying a gentle vacuum to all of the trees. And it's allowing all of the sap to come into a central collection unit underneath of that tarp,” says Aaron Stoler, assistant professor of environmental science.
Red maple trees are prevalent in the area. They are different from sugar maple trees commonly used in Vermont. Both produce the sap that is then boiled down to create maple syrup.
“Traditionally it doesn’t have a lot of timber value. It’s not seen as a very useful tree, but it’s all over the place and so now we’re making it a good tree to have,” says Stoler.
The university says this next round of funding will help them expand the program further and they're hoping more of the community will tap into the industry.
“We’re literally giving out money to individual operations in southern New Jersey who have signed on to be a hub – somebody that collects sap from the large community, boils, redistributes, so we’re getting the industry stared,” says Stoler.
The university says this is the second $500,000 grant they have received from the Department of Agriculture.