This week’s farmer feature is Jim Neidel; local farmer, and manager of operations & producer relations here at the cooperative. Jim told us what organic means to him and described his daily role here at Maple Valley. Read on to find out more, and stay tuned for the continuation of this biweekly series!
Tell us about yourself and your sugar bush.
My name is Jim Neidel. My wife Aja and I have four kids: Lily, Helen, James, & Alba. We left the rat race in Illinois 6 years ago in pursuit of a simpler life in Wisconsin. I have been involved in maple syrup production for about 5 years now. I work with two other partners, Cecil & Eric, in our sugar bush. All together we have about 4500 taps.
What is your role at Maple Valley?
I am the Operations and Producer Relations Manager. Therefore, it is my job to purchase syrup from our producers and build relationships with them. Also, I manage warehouse inventory, schedule and assist with production & bottling, and ensure all orders are sent out on schedule.
How did you first get started in Maple Syrup production?
I was friends with Cecil and he invited me out to help him. In addition, I became friends with Eric, my other partner and one of Maple Valley’s farmers. So, I just started helping them at first. At some point, the neighbor next to them put their land up for sale. I bought it, and have been making maple syrup ever since.
What is your favorite part of the process?
I enjoy just being in the woods; the simplicity of the process; the trees giving us this great natural product.
What does Organic mean to you? Why do you choose to farm organically?
Organic is the way things are supposed to be. Simple. I’m not in to using chemicals and altering things. I appreciate natural products for what they are; healthy for my family & the environment.
What is your favorite way to eat maple syrup? Do you have a favorite recipe?
I use Maple Syrup on just about anything and everything. I don’t have a favorite recipe, but I definitely use it the most with pancakes and especially in coffee.
Which do you prefer, Dark or Amber?
For the most part, I like the Dark and Robust syrup best. I do, however, appreciate the flavors of both.
Anything else you would like to share?
Thank you for supporting our Coop!