Maple Syrup in Appalachia: A Sustainable Economic Development Opportunity

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Date
2023-05-22
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Virginia Tech
Abstract

Many parts of Appalachia, including areas of Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland, lag behind much of the country in key socioeconomic indicators. There is a need for economic development opportunities that leverage the region's natural resources in a sustainable manner. This study investigates the feasibility of using maple syrup production as an economic development strategy. This study is broken into three sections, the first is a survey of current maple syrup producers to investigate how syrup is produced and sold in this region. This survey is followed by a pricing analysis that was conducted to ascertain the feasibility of small-scale producers competing with often larger and well-established Northeastern maple syrup producers. The final chapter is an economic impact analysis of the Highland County Maple Festival. This analysis was conducted to learn about the current impacts of maple syrup agritourism for producers and the communities they operate in. Findings from this study indicate that the maple syrup industry in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia is smaller and more localized than the industry in the Northeastern United States and Canada. However, the difference in how maple syrup is sold can provide many potential benefits for Appalachian communities. A localized approach to selling maple syrup that relies on attracting visitors to farms has the potential to create an economic stimulus for not only maple syrup producers, but also the communities in which they operate.

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Keywords
Economic Development, Sustainable Development, Appalachia, Maple Syrup, Agritourism
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