Gary and Vicki Adamski of Adamski Sugar Bush in Antigo were awarded the 2023 Lifetime Member Award at the recent Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association winter meeting.
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 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 filled 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 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 percent.
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 6,500 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 seven 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. Today, Adamski’s process sap from 14,000 taps.