In 2011, Jake and Erin Dudley began their syrup business by tapping 14 trees. They used bags and hauled the sap to a boiler. In the following years, the Dudleys kept expanding the number of trees they tapped. In 2012, it was 35. In 2013, they purchased land and tapped 100 trees. They tapped 200 trees a year later, and in 2015 they tapped 250 trees and used tubing to connect their trees. The family built the Sugar Shack on their land to help in the syrup-making process.
In 2016, the Dudleys tapped 500 trees and began selling syrup at farmers' markets. Two years later they began to tap birch trees as well as maple trees. This past season, the Dudleys tapped 730 maple trees and over 700 birch trees to make their syrup.
Jake and Erin harvested 10,000 gallons of sap from 730 maple trees this spring. After boiling it to evaporate the water, the Dudleys are left with about 220 gallons of maple syrup that they sell at farmers' markets in Princeton, Elk River, Otsego, and Big Lake. They sell maple syrup, maple sugar, and birch syrup. The family receives a great deal of help from friends and family during the syrup season.
Jakes takes care of the tubing, boiling, evaporation, and the equipment. He also manages the trees. Erin helps with bottling the syrup and selling it. She also assists with tapping and syrup making, helps with cleaning, and feeding the workers during the season. The couple’s daughter, Lynn, assists with the syrup-making process, helps sell the family’s products at markets, posts on social media, and attends Minnesota State University-Moorhead. The family holds tours and classes for homeschoolers and churches.
The Dudley’s say they live by the motto “Money Does Grow on Trees!”
The families will be officially recognized in a ceremony Thursday, Aug. 4 at the annual Farmfest near Redwood Falls, Minn. Profiles of the 2022 honorees and information on the recognition event can be found on the University’s farm family website, https://extension.umn.edu/farm-families.
Honored families are chosen, one per county, by local University of Minnesota Extension committees based on their demonstrated commitment to their communities and to enhancing and supporting agriculture.
“These farm families are a major driver of Minnesota's economy and the vitality of Minnesota's rural communities,” said Bev Durgan, dean of the University of Minnesota Extension. “The University of Minnesota is proud to recognize these farm families for their contributions to agriculture and their communities.”
Along with Farmfest, University units sponsoring the recognition event include the University of Minnesota Extension, Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, and the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Farmfest runs Aug. 2-4 at the Gilfillan Estate, near Redwood Falls, Minn. Event hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $8.00 in advance or $10.00 at the gate and those 17 and under are admitted free. More information on Farmfest is available at https://www.ideaggroup.com/farmfest.
Note to editors: Photographs of families who attend the Aug. 4 recognition ceremony will be posted online at https://extension.umn.edu/farm-families after Aug. 15.
For more news from U of M Extension, visit www.extension.umn.edu/news or contact Extension Communications at email@example.com. The University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer.