Sugarmaker Profiles


Vermont sugarmaker prides syrup pitcher collection

Peter Gregg | October 18, 2023

CAMBRIDGEPORT, Vt.—Sugarmaker Edward Smith is an avid collector of syrup pitcher dispensers.

“Everybody collects the cans, so I went for something different,” he said.

Smith says he displays the pitchers in the sugarhouse during every maple season and then takes them down and stores them over the summer.

Smith might have the biggest collection of syrup pitchers known to exist—a colorful display of a lifetime of collecting.

Smith says he has upwards of 220 or so. MORE ]


Walling family share the secrets of their success

Peter Gregg | September 14, 2023

NORWICH, N.Y.—Neil and Tonya Walling of 8,900-tap Ripple Road Maple Products are reaching the pinnacle of success in sugaring.

“The more you put in the more you get out,” Neil said, during a tour for The Maple News.

The pair, along with Neil’s father Kern, have established themselves as masters of the craft.

They just came off a record breaking season this April.

“We harvested and processed 368,093 gallons of sap,” Walling said. “That equates to 40.9 gallons of sap per taphole. Each tap produced 6.5lbs of syrup.”
The pair made 5307 gallons. They boiled 44 times.

The secret of their success? That’s easy. MORE ]


Hoburn family making a big go of it in Northern Vermont

Peter Gregg | October 19, 2022

ENOSBURG, Vt.—Service and family are the running themes at Rick’s Sugarhouse in Enosburg, Vt.

“You get that bug and it keeps growing and growing,” said Rick Hoburn who runs the operation with son, Richard, daughter, Autumn and cousin Donny Teague.

Hoburn started sugaring with just 25 buckets and a 4x4 pan but now the operation is one of the biggest in Vermont, aiming to have 50,000 taps in for this coming season and a potential to grow it to 80,000.

Hoburn, a cancer survivor who also battles the effects of Lyme disease, bought the 700 acres of sugarbush three years ago and broke ground on the massive sugarhouse in April 2020 during the peak of Covid. In just six months, the sugarhouse was up and ready for boiling. The woods were mostly tapped too, with help from neighbors like sugarmaker J.R. Sloan and Tom Patterson of CDL.

Sloan was the one who tipped off Hoburn that the property was available.

“The trees are big and it’s just a beautiful lot,” Hoburn said. “It was pretty much untouched.” MORE ]


Rising from the ashes

Peter Gregg | February 25, 2022

POWNAL, Vt.—Not many sugarmakers would be smiling after a sugarhouse fire.

Keith Armstrong can’t help it. He considers himself a lucky guy.

“Luck beats skill every time,” he said.

Armstrong, owner of the 4,000-tap Armstrong Farms maple operation in Pownal, Vt. lost almost everything in a fluke fire on July 9, his birthday.

Armstrong was first startled awake by a lightning strike at 1 in the morning, but shrugged it off and went back to sleep.

Two hours later firemen were pounding on his door. MORE ]


Pa. Couple rebounds after fire destroys sugarhouse

Sandra Lepley | Feb. 14, 2020

MEYERSDALE, Pa.—Black Bear Maple Camp is back in business this maple season just a year after a devastating fire destroyed everything.

"We've made seven barrels already," said owner Roger Newman on Feb. 13.

On Feb. 22, 2019 a fire at the sugarhouse destroyed the entire operation.

"We were devastated at the time of the fire not only because we lost all the assets but also because we lost the building we built from scratch," said owner Cindy Newman.

"But in the months that followed, we are able to rebuild with the help of friends in the great maple community and as difficult of a process as it was to go through this experience, we had the opportunity to change some things by building a new camp." MORE ]


Maple syrup making runs full circle for Michigan man

Stan Maddux | January 23, 2020

NILES, Mich.—Tom Cook was just 7 when hooked by the shiny evaporator pans boiling down sap into maple syrup.

He’s gone from tapping trees in his neighborhood and along roadsides as a kid to making syrup from his own 20 acre woods he planted himself.

Now 55, the southwest Michigan man said it’s a special feeling to venture out with his dog to harvest sap from trees he watched grow from seedlings the past 30-years.

“It’s always neat. You’re just thinking. God, I planted these things and you’re making syrup from them so it’s kind of cool,” he said. MORE ]


Hockey All-Star for ADK Thunder makes a go of sugaring in New Hampshire

Paul Post | January 23, 2020

Robbie Payne has enjoyed sweet success as an All-Star for the Adirondack Thunder, based in Glens Falls, N.Y.

From now till early April, he’ll be battling hard to help the team earn a berth in the ECHL’s Kelly Cup playoffs.

But on off days, Payne can’t wait to drive home, across Vermont, to Orford, N.H., where he’s pursuing his newfound love as an aspiring sugarmaker.

“I don’t know how far I’ll be able to get this year,” he said. “If I make a batch and it turns out well it’s going to be a good year, even if it’s just a pint. Some of the guys are asking me about it. They think it’s pretty interesting.”

Payne and his wife, Caitlin, moved to New Hampshire and bought 6.5 acres so they could be close to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, in Hanover, where she’s in residency as a neurosurgeon.

“It’s a little over two hours from Glens Falls,” he said. “A lot of times we play Friday and Saturday, and have off Sunday. My plan is to go home and hopefully be able to take care of each tap and bucket and have them fill during the week. I don’t know exactly how it’s going to work. My wife might have to help me out a little bit. She think’s I’m crazy. But that’s all right. I want to try it out and see how it goes.” MORE ]


Pumpkin themed syrup a good business for Michigan family

Stan Maddux | December 4, 2019

CHARLEVOIX, Mich.—Maple syrup with a taste of pumpkin is among the selections offered by a growing family-owned syrup making company to get customers in the mood for autumn.

Harwood Gold in Charlevoix, Michigan has a wide selection of year round and seasonal flavors, including Pumpkin Spice.

Amber Munday and her sister, Katie Untalan, have greatly expanded the maple syrup menu since taking over the brand from their parents, Dave and Terri Parsons, in 2014.

Munday said she inserts pumpkin spices into each bottle then pours hot maple syrup into the bottles to draw out the flavors.

She said their Cinnamon Quill, Three Bean and Bourbon Barrel Aged infused maple syrups are also seasonal but more consistent than Pumpkin Spice in sales throughout the year.

‘’In my opinion, all of maple syrup is a very autumn product,” Munday said. “This is the time of year where our product sales start to increase because it’s a very warm and cozy product to want to have on your breakfast table.” MORE ]