The call came in on the July 24. Beth Simpson picked up the phone with high excitement (or was it anxiety?) She had been anticipating this moment for months, since she and Richard had started running the first tap lines in March. The call was from Chris Pfeil, owner of The Maple Guys out of Wilton, NH.
The results were in.
And they had won.
Crotched Mountain School’s Farm School program, a vocational living component of the school’s curriculum, received the Felker Prize from the Maple Producers Association, an honor given to best syrup in the state (school division). The final verdict came from a white-knuckle voting period, where the judging panel was deadlocked, and a secondary group of judges had to come in for the tiebreaker. Crothed Mountain emerged victorious.
“I was in shock, I was so excited,” said Beth, who’s the Farm School Coordinator for Crotched Mountain School.
The process began in the spring, when Beth and Crotched Mountain students welcomed Chris and his maple-slinging pros to the school to serve as “syrup mentors.” Students learned to identify sugar bushes, run tap lines from the trees, collect the sap, boil it down at Crotched Mountain’s own on-campus sugar house, and, finally, bottle it up to be sold–and entered into statewide contests.
“For roughly six years I had been part of the Crotched Mountain Farm School,” said Richard, a former Farm School student who took the lead in the syruping endeavor. “While it was a very labor-intensive process, it was very exciting to learn the sugaring process from tapping the maple trees to boiling down the sap to maple syrup. One thing I enjoyed most was being able to share my knowledge with clients, staff, and visitors of Crotched Mountain School. When I heard that we had won the Maple Syrup Contest in NH I knew that our work paid off!”
Along with the bragging rights, Crotched Mountain School also received $2,000, which will be used for the Farm School program.
“We are so proud of our Farm School program,” said Melissa White, Chief of School and Community Living for Crotched Mountain Foundation. “It’s such an amazing example of what makes our school so unique. Regardless of their ability, our students have the opportunity to literally get their hands dirty and gain incredible life skills.”