Orwell’s Michael Christian wins annual Maple Award

MICHAEL CHRISTIAN, KENN Hastings, Shelley Christian, and Beanie Masterson at the VMSMA “Big E” booth in 2019.

RICHFORD — The Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association (VMSMA) board presented the 2022 Annual Maple Awards at their Annual Meeting in July 2022: Outstanding Sugar Maker, Vermont Maple Person of the Year, and the Sumner Williams Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sumner Williams Lifetime Achievement Award

Michael Christian, Village Mapleworks, Orwell
This award, previously called the “President’s Award,” was renamed in January 2000 in memory of Sumner Williams, then assistant director of the UVM Proctor Maple Research Center. Sumner was a sugar maker, a researcher, an educator, and a true friend to the maple industry. The Sumner Hill Williams Memorial Cup is presented yearly to honor an individual for outstanding service and dedication to the maple industry.

For many years, Mike Christian has played an important role in promoting Vermont Maple to the greater New England region through the VMSMA booth at the Eastern States Exposition (“The Big E”) in West Springfield, Ma. The VMSMA Big E booth relies on numerous volunteers and runs over 17 days each fall. 

Starting in the late winter, Mike undertakes countless hours of work to ensure everything is in place to share Vermont Maple products with hundreds of thousands of Big E guests. The maple industry has benefited from Mike’s expertise and dedication from his many years of service in the fast-paced and demanding environment of the Big E. Vermont is clearly a leader in promoting maple, and Mike has been an integral part of that work.

Outstanding Sugar Maker Award

Roy Corse, Whitingham
The VMSMA Board selects a Vermont sugar maker, individual, or family who sets a good example for other sugar makers to follow in cleanliness, food safety, and production practices. In addition, nominees for this award help the maple industry by participating in county and statewide fairs to promote and educate future sugar makers and the general public on the benefits of pure Vermont maple syrup. 

Roy Corse was born into sugaring on the family farm, where maple syrup has been produced since 1868. In the sugar house, production records are posted and date back to 1918. Together with his wife and helpers, they have over 12,000 taps. They are a dealer for Lapierre, H20, and Leader. In years past, Roy has worked on promoting Vermont Maple with Windham County’s Maplerama event, and he currently serves as an alternate to the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association Board.

Vermont Maple Person of the Year

The Purinton Family, Huntington
This award is presented to someone whose work benefits the entire maple industry and may or may not be a sugar maker.

Peter and Carla Purinton and their children (and their children’s families) tap over 17,000 trees on 350 acres of farmland. They promote Vermont Maple, regularly increase brand awareness, and offer direct assistance to the association and other sugar makers when needed. 

This year, in particular, Peter and his son Austin worked creatively and tirelessly with VMSMA to ensure Vermont’s maple producers had a timely and adequate supply of retail containers to sell their syrup. VMSMA is extremely grateful to the Purintons for their willingness to quite literally carry the load for us while we manage the container supply transition. Ensuring container availability for dealers and members is extremely important for the Vermont Maple brand and the many maple businesses that rely on VMSMA’s containers. 

The Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association (VMSMA), founded in 1893, is one of the oldest agricultural organizations in the United States and represents over 1,000 members. The VMSMA helps promote and protect the branding of pure Vermont maple products and serves as the official voice for Vermont sugar makers. Vermont sugar makers produce over 2 million gallons of maple syrup annually (about one-half of the production in the United States). More information at www.VermontMaple.org.

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