Deep in the woods of Dummerston, Vermont, you will find Mike Euphrat working on his sugarbush. Outfitted with a variety of tools, tubes, and taps he works to prepare, upgrade, and or check on his lines that deliver maple sap back to his evaporator on the Bunker Farm. The Bunker Farm is owned collectively by Mike, his wife Jen, her sister Helen, and Helen’s husband Noah. It is a multi-faceted farm in which Helen operates a nursery and private gardening business that focuses on rare and specialty annuals and perennials, Noah raises pastured chickens, pigs, turkeys, and cows for a meat CSA, and Mike manages their sugar bush and maple syrup business. It has been a large undertaking that has been tremendously rewarding.
At this time of year, I always welcome the earliest signs of spring: the arrival of the red winged blackbird, the sight of sap buckets on large maple trees, and the steam coming out the chimneys of sugar houses. These days sugaring is often done in a more efficient way than with traditional sap buckets. The use of reverse-osmosis machines, plastic tubing, and vacuum pump collection are common practices. Of course there is still a small number of sugarers who use the old method of hanging sap buckets, which I cherish—I love seeing them, and smelling and even tasting the sap collected in the buckets. Trudging from tree to tree through the mud or snow is a lot of work, but any method for collecting sap is a humongous job!
Maple syrup, the Vermont delicacy dates back hundreds of years when Native Americans first discovered the sap flowing from Sugar Maple trees and boiled it into the sweet caramel syrup we know and love today. Vermont is the top producer of maple syrup in the United States with a share of 40%, or over 3.5 million gallons. While many other states produce maple syrup no