Sen. Patricia Ritchie participated in “Maple Weekend” with a visit with the region’s newest young farmer, Josh Parker, a 16-year-old who has set up his own Canton maple sugar operation. Parker’s maple operation uses wood pellets to power his evaporator—the first such operation in the state. Maple Weekend is celebrated each year to promote New York’s maple industry, which will also get a boost from increased funding in the new State Budget. In addition, young farmers like Parker will benefit from a new initiative designed by Sen. Ritchie, who is chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, to encourage more young people to pursue farming as a career. With 2.2 million taps, New York is the nation’s second largest maple producer, with plenty of room to grow. Sen. Ritchie represents several towns in St. Lawrence County including Canton, Morristown, Oswegatchie and Lisbon. She also represents the City of Ogdensburg.