Upgrading infrastructure for energy-efficient processing
J. P. and Marian Welch produce maple syrup and maple foods at Justamere Tree Farm in Worthington. They have 5,100 maple taps and for years had made all the maple products in their certified home kitchen.
In January 2018, they completed a new net-zero maple kitchen. This building will streamline their production of maple cream, candies, and maple coated nuts, and will enable them to add new items to their line, including a maple-sugar-sweetened hot chocolate mix. “This new building will make things more efficient, energy- and production-wise. It’s going to allow us to do multiple tasks in the same place and all in the same building,” says J. P. “I won’t have to spend as much time in the kitchen in my house.”
This energy-efficient building was made possible through several grant and loan programs. The farm received two grants from MDAR: a ten-year Farm Viability Enhancement Program grant and an Agricultural Energy Program grant. J. P. worked closely with Megan Denardo at the Center for EcoTechnology to submit the grant applications. “She sat down with me to fill everything out. There is no way I could have written those grant requests without Megan’s help,” says J. P. The farm also received a low-interest loan from Berkshire Agricultural Ventures, a nonprofit that invests in local food producers.