'Maple sisters' win St. Lawrence County 'Maple Person of the Year' award
Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 5:36 pm

Sisters Brianne Tully, left, and Courtney Foote show off their awards at the recent St. Lawrence County Maple Producers Association annual banquet.

“Maple sisters” Brianne Tulley and Courtney Foote have together won the St. Lawrence County Maple Producers Association’s “Maple Person of the Year” award, presented recently at the organization’s annual banquet.

Tulley and Foote, children of Jeff and Lori Jenness of DeKalb and Bryan Donnelly of Schenectady, and grandchildren of Laura and the late E. Paul McAdam of Gouverneur, are third generation maple producers.

Maple Producers President Doug Thompson said, “This year’s recipients grew up with a strong maple background; they are third generation maple producers; they’ve both been involved in the industry since they were very young; they’ve been active at both the county and state level.”

He said it would be nice to recognize each separately but “how can you separate a team like that?”

They started on a small scale with about 50 buckets joining the family operation on the Country Club Road in Gouverneur. Aunts, uncles, cousins, great aunts and uncles, and grandparents were all part of the team. At the time they made only enough syrup to get them through the year. As the family grew, they increased the number of buckets and eventually added some tubing and reached around 100 to 150 total taps.

The family moved to the Orebed Road in DeKalb in 1999 and the operation grew to 500 buckets and 300 taps on gravity-fed tubing. As they worked with their parents at the Orebed Sugar Shack the girls got to 200 buckets and 800 taps on gravity tubing. They became expert in putting up tubing. They would make trips with a 4-wheeler to gather sap before their parents were home from work.

Brianne served as 2002 St. Lawrence County Maple Queen and 2002 New York State Maple Queen Alternate, 2003 St. Lawrence County Maple Queen, and 2004 St. Lawrence County Maple Queen. She serves as the webmaster and the recording secretary for the SLCMPA. Brianne was also the afternoon shift manager at the St. Lawrence County Fair this past year.

Courtney served as 2004 St. Lawrence County and NYS Maple Queen Alternate, 2005 St. Lawrence County Maple Queen and NYS Maple Queen Alternate, and 2006 NYS and St. Lawrence County Maple Queen. During her reign as NYS Maple Queen Courtney was directly responsible for a $150,000 appropriation to the NYS Maple Producers Association. Courtney served as the St. Lawrence County Maple Producers Association delegate to the New York State Maple Producers Association for a few years, and has also served as a trustee for the North American Maple Museum. Courtney currently serves on the New York State Maple Producers Committee for Maple Royalty.

Together they have worked as co-chairs to establish a strong Maple Queen and Princess program with much support for the young women in this program. You will often see one or both of them at the Hammond Fair, The Power Equipment Museum, Dairy Princess Parade, Fair Cleanup Day and Fair Tear Down day, among other events. They regularly attend the monthly meetings of the SLCMPA. They annually attend the opening of the North American Maple Museum to support the royalty attending and representing the SLCMPA.

They have been responsible for adding new products. such as maple suckers and granulated maple sugar, as well as packaging to the offerings at The Orebed Sugar Shack.

The operation has grown to 1600 taps on vacuum. They filter and process the sap with a reverse osmosis (RO) machine, with sap being sterilized as soon as it enters the sap house. They have an energy efficient evaporator and feature a large, heated, uniquely decorated room to host groups, tours, and visitors.

Since their farming practices follow organic regulations, they are currently certified organic for the maple syrup, maple cream, maple candy, and granulated maple sugar by NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC. They can run and explain any of the equipment and have been teaching their husbands the process.

You don’t usually see one without the other. If you do, the other one isn’t too far behind, they support each other in everything they do.

Be sure to stop by and congratulate them on Maple Weekend March 16-17 or March 23-24.

You can find more details on their Facebook Page, which the sisters maintain, visit the website www.orebedsugarshack.com, or call them at 347-3415.