The Story of Adamski Sugar Bush
On January 14, 2023, at the WMSPA Winter Institute and Maple Vendor Trade Show in Marshfield, WI; Gary and Vicki Adamski of Adamski Sugar Bush, Antigo, WI were awarded the 2023 Lifetime member award. Gary and Vicky Adamski’s maple experience started when they were very young, just out of high school. Tapping trees on the family farm with relatives and boiling the syrup on a small flat pan out in the yard. The sugaring at that time was done every couple of years whenever the family farm needed maple syrup.
In 1984, the Adamski’s decided to try the craft on an annual basis. The same flat pan that was used by Vicky’s father and grandfather was placed back in service. Gary and Vicky tapped 25 trees in Vicky’s father’s woods and started to make maple syrup. The excess sap that could not be boiled was hauled to Reynolds Sugarbush in milk cans and the first balk syrup was sold to Reynolds as well.
In the early years, Adamski’s operation was very primitive with most of the boiling done outside on the small flat pan that was older than both their ages combined. Every year the taps were set increased and the flat pan evaporator was moved into a storage shed in the yard. This was an amazing upgrade with electricity and a black and white TV.
As the small operation continued to grow a larger flat pan evaporator was built and placed into service complete with a steam hood, which made boiling on the snowy March evenings much more enjoyable. About this time the number of trees were producing far more sap than Gary and Vicky had milk cans for storage so they purchased a new 30-gallon garbage can to store some additional sap. The can was filed one late evening and when they arrived home from work the next day to their surprise the can was empty. The plastic was so thin all the sap seeped out of the can.
By this time, Gary and Vicky had sugaring in their blood and located a wood lot for a sale a few miles from their house and the first wood lot were purchased in 1991. The next year the tap count doubled and once again another evaporator was placed into service and increased the boiling capacity by 52%.
In 1992, Gary and Vicky son, Jim, finished tech school and decided to stay in the area. In 1994, the Adamski’s upgraded to a 4×14 forced draft wood evaporator. With this additional capacity, it was time once again to add taps. By this time the Adamski’s operation was up to 6500 taps on bags and buckets. The evaporator was run around the clock for a few seasons to keep up with the taps. The first of 7 reverse osmosis machines were purchased in the spring of 1995 reducing the boiling time and the mountain of firewood being used. 1995 was the first year for tubing. The small tubing system were installed in the Adamski’s woods and also in the rented woodlot in Aniwa.
In the Spring of 2000, Gary and Vicky hosted the WMSPA First tree Tapping in the first woods they had purchased. As the operation continues to grow the bags and buckets were replaced by high vacuum tubbing. The wood fired evaporator has been replaced with a natural gas fired evaporator. As more wood lots were purchased the tap count had grown to 10,000 taps.
In 2007, Adamski’s Sugar Bush received the producer of the year award from the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producer’s Association. In 2016, the sugarbush was certified organic and two other producers that sold sap to Gary and Vicky were also certified organic. The current sugarhouse is in the same place it was in 1984 it is just a little bigger.
On January 14, 2023 at the WMSPA Winter Institute and Maple Vendor Trade Show in Marshfield WI Jim and Sara Adamski of Adamski Sugar Bush, Antigo, WI was awarded the 2022 producers of the year. The award went to two maple syrup producers who definitely go above and beyond whenever asked to do anything for the Wisconsin Maple Producers Association, in any job they volunteer to do, and especially for Jim’s parents and family.
Jim Adamski has been a past President of the Association, a Delegate to the North American Maple Syrup Counsel has been on the Board of Directors for many years. Jim and Sara have worked at the Wisconsin State Fair selling maple products for the Association. Jim helped organize the North American Maple Syrup Annual Convention in LaCrosse and has put on many workshops for the Winter Institutes. He has shared his great knowledge of the Maple Industry with other state association also putting on workshops for the Minnesota Maple Association where he has been invited back as a guest speaker several times.
Jim and Sara are fourth generation maple producers in the Adamski family. Jim with the help of his grandpa and Dad tapped 100 trees in his grandpa’s woods in 1988, at the age of 15, as a 4-H project and FFA project. That year Jim sold Reynolds Sugar Bush 110 pounds of syrup. After his expenses, his profit that year was $2.80. Jim thought this could be a money-making business. Jim’s FFA Teacher nominated him for the State FFA degree. In 1989, he worked for Reynolds Sugar Bush, collecting sap. That same year with his FFA teacher, Principal from his High School, and parents, Vicky and Gary, traveled to Kansas City for the National FFA Conference where he received the American FFA degree.
History is repeating itself for in the Adamski family. Jim and Sara’s son, Jacob at the age of 5 started tapping the maple trees in his grandpa’s back yard. Sara Adamski being a 4-H Leader encouraged Jacob to join 4-H at the age of5. Being the 5th generation of syrup producers, Jacob has exhibited his maple syrup at the county fair for the past 10 years and has always received blue ribbons.
Now, thirty-five years later- the Adamski’s process sap from 14,000 taps.