The forest

Sugarbush

Caitlin Castellini Photography

our Sugarbush

Our 10,000 tap sugarbush spans 150 acres of beautiful forest in Woodstock, Vermont. The highest point offers a view of Killington Mountain to the west and looks down the valley to the east towards the village of Woodstock.

 

The woods are predominantly sugar maple with red maple, ash, hemlock, cherry, beech, and pine sprinkled throughout. The forest thrives on glacial, rocky soils and hosts an abundance of flora and fauna. Wild ginseng, maidenhair fern, trillium, Dutchman's breeches, and meadow rue grow bountifully along the forest floor and are key indicators of soil health.

We share our woods with deer, coyotes, bear, and bobcat, as well as many bird species. The sugarbush is certified with the Bird-Friendly Maple Project through Audubon Vermont, and we work to preserve bird habitat as a part of our woodland management goals.

 

The forest itself is relatively young as Vermont experienced a rise in sheep farming in the early 1900s and was largely deforested to create pasture for grazing. We've encouraged forest regeneration and continue to maintain its health and longevity by implementing a sustainable forest management plan developed by a licensed state forester. Conservation through the Vermont Land Trust ensures that our land will maintain its rural integrity for generations to come.

Maidenhair fern

Maidenhair fern

Foggy snow-covered sugarbush with sunlight streaming through the trees
Tapping Maple Trees

Sugaring season

When February is just around the corner, we gather a team together to tap trees. We drill small precise holes in each tree, following specific tapping guidelines to ensure tree health and maximum productivity.

We then tap in a plastic spout and attach it to our tubing system. The system connects every tree in the sugarbush and draws sap downhill directly to the sugarhouse. Tapping may take two or three weeks, depending on weather and snow depth. We start early so that we'll have everything tapped before any early winter thaws. Once all 10,000 trees are tapped, we wait for the sap to run. 

Warm days followed by cold nights bring on physiological changes in the maple trees, and sap begins to flow. These specific weather conditions must occur to maintain sap flow. Every season is wildly different so it's important that we make the most of good weather when it arrives. 

Once the lines have thawed on warm mornings, we trek through the sugarbush to look for leaks in the system. Downed trees or branches and chewed lines from coyotes and squirrels are common problems we find. Any holes in the tubing system reduce sap yield and must be addressed early in the season for maximum production.

Off-season, we spend time thinning the woods and performing maintenance on the tubing system. Don Bourdon likes to say, "although boiling happens in the sugarhouse, maple syrup is really made in the woods", which speaks to all the hard work and long days spent in the sugarbush. 

see what happens in the sugarhouse

Caitlin Castellini Photography

Maple Tapping Crew
Sugarbush
Maple Sugarmaker

Caitlin Castellini Photography