Ask any sugarmaker and they’ll surely tell you: there’s a certain romance to the art of tapping your own maple trees. From the smell of the sugarshack wood smoke, to the pling, pling sound of sap in the galvanized bucket, to the crunch of snow and the bracing cold of the winter woods on your cheeks, it’s all too easy to fall in love with one of New England’s most time-honored pastimes.
If you’ve ever dreamed of giving maple tapping a shot yourself, getting started is easier than you might think. And at these eight one-of-a-kind properties, you can make maple syrup the old-fashioned way from the comfort of your own backyard.
- Well-Rounded Retreat: Birch Tree Farm
With its prized location overlooking the Ottauquechee River Valley, Birch Tree Farm is a recreational paradise set on 468 acres near Woodstock. There’s room for animals (think: a chicken coop and seven-stall barn, nine fenced pastures, and miles of carriage trails), a fully-stocked swimming pond, and even a 110-tree apple orchard. The farm’s maple offerings are no less impressive, with a fully-functional sugaring operation: “This year we gathered approximately 2,000 gallons of syrup. This was a very prolific sugaring year – 1,500 is more the average. A local farmer boils for us. This year, due to the virus, she bottled it all at her house; typically, we heat the bulk syrup and bottle at the Lodge.”
- Sugaring and Wildlife Diversity: Greenrange Farm
Presiding over 581 acres, this early 19th-century property includes post-and-beam barns, a sugarhouse and around 1,000 taps, a 4-bedroom farmhouse and 2 guest houses–all located near Middlebury College. In addition to the 19-acre sugar woods, Greenrange Farm includes 140 acres of clover, alfalfa and hay fields, 215 acres of forester managed woodland and 240 acres of wetland and scrub woodland providing cover for deer, bear, coyote, lynx, bobcat, turkey, ravens, owls and hawks. An Audubon field survey identified over 60 species of birds that reside on the property.
- Hidden Treasure: High Riding
Located on one of Woodstock’s most beautiful land parcels, the 1962 Harvey Stevenson-designed High Riding is a modern masterpiece, complete with curved walls and architectural details that blend Japanese-style simplicity with Vermont provenance. Outside, the home’s 75.5 acres include panoramic views of Mt. Ascutney and Mt. Washington as well as a hidden sugar bush of about 800 trees near the top of the ridge. Currently tapped by a local sugar maker, High Riding boasts its own “private” production of maple syrup: enough to provide for the family’s holiday gifts and weekend pancakes all year long.
- For Wannabe Homesteaders: Tether Loop Farm
Set on 378 acres amid sweet-smelling hay fields and wooded hillsides, Tether Loop makes the most of its seasonal bounty. Here, living a land-based lifestyle is more than possible, with gardening and haying in the summer, apple picking and honey harvesting in the fall, and—you guessed it—bountiful maple tapping during the winter months. Housing its own 20 x 30 log cabin sugarhouse and 750 taps producing as much as 200 gallons a year, this boutique operation is the real deal. In fact, the current owner makes so much syrup, he sells in bulk to a brewery in Tennessee, which uses the sweet stuff in its maple-infused craft beer.
- A Corner of ‘True Vermont’: Tunbridge Hilltop Farm
Overlooking 135 hilly acres complete with meadows, woodlands, and a swimming pond, Tunbridge Hilltop Farm is as quintessentially “Vermont” as it gets. Naturally, the property also houses a six-stall horse barn, chicken coop, greenhouse, and equipment sheds… not to mention miles of groomed carriage trails through acres of towering sugar maples. The only question—whether you choose to ride, ski, or hike out to check your taps—is entirely up to you!
- For the Gentleman Sugarmaker: Jericho Brook Farm
Sitting on nearly 199 acres in the Jericho Historic District, just six miles from Dartmouth College, the 18th-century Jericho Brook Farm is a well-oiled maple-tapping machine. For prospective sugarmakers hoping for a hand in the business but none of the hassle, the farm’s sugarbush is currently leased at $1.50 per tap to a local family with their own 25,000-tap operation. Jericho Brook’s some 3,000 taps offer a significant return on investment (the lease is transferable upon purchase), while also helping to maintain the farm’s historic woodlands for the next generation. Also available with 43.60 acres for $750,000.
- Room to Roam Estate: Selcombe
Presiding over a whopping 750+ acres, Selcombe’s quaint, 1819 brick Cape home and surrounding grounds have been lovingly maintained by five generations of the same family. It’s easy to see why. A picturesque setting in which to practice sustainable agriculture, keep horses, or just catch your breath in the countryside, Selcombe is also the perfect place to tap sugar maples. Though a formal operation has yet to be established, local legend has it that the trees lining Selcombe’s driveway have been tapped by neighbors for many winters past.
- DIY Paradise: Chester Farm
Flanked by two antique barns and surrounded by rolling meadows, rambling stone walls, and stately maple trees, this 1819 property is the quintessential New England farmstead. Located just 2.5 hours from Boston, Chester Farm has been a carefully managed family refuge for generations. Though it doesn’t house a sugarshack at present, the home’s 73.7 wooded acres contain plenty of colorful, mature sugar maples just waiting to be tapped.
To find out more about these properties, click on the links above or contact Story Jenks, Wade Weathers, Chris Lang, Ruth Kennedy Sudduth, Averill Cook or Dia Jenks who can offer sound advice whether you are looking to buy or sell a Vermont country property or farm.
Purinton Maple – maple sugaring equipment
The Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association, founded in 1893