Photo Gallery | Maple Syrup flows at Glabach Maple Farm
DUMMERSTON — The state of Vermont celebrates Maple Day on April 1 every year, but one Windham County town honored the trade this past Saturday.
On March 26, Dummerston Conservation Commission and Transition Dummerston sponsored open houses and tours of eight sugar houses in town. From noon to 4 p.m. locals and people from out of state dropped by to sample syrup, take tours of the sugar houses or strike up conversations with those who work diligently to make their product just right for customers.
"It's absolutely fascinating, I've learned so much from these people, I never realized the different tastes or grades of syrup," said Marsha Bard who moved to the Green Mountain State six months ago from Florida. "You know you go into the store, you buy syrup and bring it home and that's it, but you don't have a comparison to make."
Marsha and her husband, Howard, spent Saturday afternoon touring some of the sugar houses and enjoyed a maple smoothie at Glabach Maple Farm.
The Glabach farm, located at 32 Nourse Hollow Rd., had its last day of boiling on Saturday due to the rising temperatures that cause the buds to develop on the maple trees, which causes the syrup to change flavors. Owner Steve Glabach said they planned to boil 70 to 80 gallons that day and that in one season they typically produce about 2,000 gallons.
"Traditionally we talk about tapping on Town Meeting day and generally you sugar the entire month of March," said Glabach. "We boiled the 20th of February, so we've been going almost six weeks, but there's people that actually boil earlier than that, which is pretty unusual, but it speaks well for the new equipment that people are using."
Read Miller, whose family owns one of the longest running sugar bush operations in the state, Dwight Miller Orchards, an eighth-generation farm and orchard in Dummerston, has felt that despite this "El Nino" year, they were prepared to start an earlier season and be productive. Though Miller said they could have produced syrup later in the season, they chose to stop on March 21 because the quality would not be what they would pack.
"We do so many things here that we weigh in opportunity costs," said Miller. "For example, if the cost of making late-season syrup is below the cost of production and we have 10 other things that we should be doing anyway, we drop and go do those other things, which is what we did."
Several of the 13 sugarmakers featured for Maple Day in Dummerston said a few locals and out-of-staters stopped by for the event, but overall they felt the event said a lot about their community.
"We have a great town and we have a lot of local support, and the idea of letting our neighbors know of what it is that's going on around them is a good thing," said Miller. "How can it not be good to know and include your neighborhood in what you're doing and have them aware of what the happenings are?"
Tours of the local sugarhouses was not the only highlight of the day; several of the farms donated goods to the annual West Dummerston Fire Department Sugar on Snow Supper. This event raises money for the Dummerston Fire Department, which is separate from the town. This year organizers hope some of the funds will go toward building their own fire station, which is estimated to cost around $250,000.
According to Lester Dunkle, a member of the Dummerston Fire Department, this operation began in the 1950s and began in the West Dummerston Grange Hall, then the Dummerston Center Grange Hall and is now held at the school.
"There's quite a few sugarmakers in the area and what I like about them is they are very generous,"said Dunkle.
He said it was not intentional to have the supper hosted on the same day as Maple Day, but he felt it was a positive addition as the sugarhouses and farms tend to be the primary sources that donate food for the event.
Brattleboro-area sugarhouses participating in Maple Syrup weekend
The following sugarhouses are participating in the annual Vermont Maple Sugar Producers Association open house this weekend:
Sprague & Son Sugarhouse, Route 100 North, Jacksonville, 802-368-2776.
Smith Family Maple, 327 Atcherson Hollow Rd. Cambridgeport, 802-869-2417.
Robb Family Farm, Llc, 822 Ames Hill Rd., Brattleboro, 802-257-0163.
Corse Maple Farm, 773 Corse Rd., Whitingham, 802-368-2420.
Hidden Springs Maple, 162 Westminster Rd., Putney, 802-387-5200
Ameden Family Sugarhouse, 366 Stonehedge Rd., Jamaica, 802-297-1502.
For a slideshow on sugarhouses in southern Vermont, visit www.reformer.com/food/ci_29702656/20-must-visit-southern-vermont-sugarhouses.
The following sugarhouses are listed on www.visitvt.com and are not participating in the official Vermont Maple Sugar Producers Association open house this weekend.
Black Bear Sugarworks, Brattleboro.
Matt's Maple Syrup, Brattleboro.
Havoc Hill Sugarhouse, East Dorset.
Evans Maple Farm, East Dummerston.
Franklin Farm, Guilford.
Collins Tree Farm & Sugar House, Putney.
Hidden Springs Maple, Putney.
Paradise Farm Sugarhouse, West Brattleboro.
The following sugarhouses are listed on www.ruralvermont.com and are not participating in the official Vermont Maple Sugar Producers Association open house this weekend.
Lilac Ridge Farm, Brattleboro
Plummer's Sugar House, Grafton.
Clark's House of Sinzibukwud, Guilford.
Dwight Miller Orchards, Putney.
Whetstone Valley Farm, West Brattleboro.
Adams Farm, Wilmington.
Editor's Note: This list is not meant to be all-inclusive. The Reformer apologizes to those maple producers not listed.