Energy/Energy Efficiency Coordinator, Department of Agricultural Resources
Shortly before this year’s shortened maple sugaring season ended, I was fortunate to not only visit a local producer, but also able to “assist” in an afternoon of maple syrup production. My intention to visit Justamere Tree Farm, a family-owned maple sugaring and diversified farming operation in Worthington, was to review new energy efficient equipment funded in part by DAR’s Ag-Energy Grant Program. The grants help fund projects to improve energy efficiency and facilitate adoption of alternative clean energy technologies. Justamere’s new additional reverse osmosis (RO) equipment separates out and reduces the water content of the raw sap, thus reducing evaporation time and saving energy. Concurrently, water is recovered that is used for cleaning purposes. Justamere also uses an advanced gasification wood furnace that results in overall boiler efficiencies of 75 to 80 percent. This allows Justamere to use less than half of the wood conventional operations utilize. Energy and our valuable forest resources are saved and greenhouse gas emissions reduced. Possible next step – photovoltaics to help offset the maple syrup production’s electrical requirements!