Communications, Outreach, and Development Associate
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For Immediate Release
The Quiet Sugarers: Kingdom Mountain Maple
Dan and Kim Backus live nestled into the foothills of the Green Mountains in Westfield, Vt., surrounded by mostly forest. They raise beef cows and grow hay in their open pastures, they cut firewood and sawlogs, and they produce a little bit of honey. Aside from Kim’s culinary prose as kitchen manager for Craftsbury Outdoor Center, the Backus’ are known in the Northeast Kingdom for something Dan has been doing for three decades – sugaring.
“I have always enjoyed doing the work involved,” he says, “There are ups and downs from year to year but overall it’s been a good way to make some money.”
As the owners of Kingdom Mountain Maple, Dan and Kim are producing certified organic maple syrup from 2800 taps. According to Dan, there are plans for expansion but they will come about slowly which he says is intentional. He enjoys being able to work most of the operation by himself while soliciting the help of his two sons, who live on the property, and Kim when needed. Friends, neighbors, and community members have the chance to check out what Dan is up to in the woods with visits throughout the season.
“We have many visitors through the seasons,” he says, “Lots of neighbors and friends come to hang out and taste some fresh syrup.”
To produce its syrup, Kingdom Mountain Maple uses reverse osmosis, a process that drastically reduces the amount of water in the maple sap before it’s boiled to make the liquid gold of which everyone is familiar. According to Dan, this saves him time and money by reducing the length of which the syrup needs to be boiled and how much wood is used to heat the boiler.
Kingdom Mountain Maple’s syrup can be found in several retail locations throughout the Northeast Kingdom – Newport Natural Market and Cafe, Westfield General Store, Hunger Mountain Co-Op, Berry Creek Farm Stand – and is also used at Craftsbury Outdoor Center. They also sell to several institutions and schools in the area through Green Mountain Farm Direct, a regional food hub operated by Green Mountain Farm-to-School.
“It gets our syrup into places it would be difficult for me to supply otherwise,” says Dan about his involvement with Green Mountain Farm Direct, “Anywhere that it goes and people see where it comes from, that’s great.”
According to Dan, it has been a good season so far even though it started earlier than expected with the warm weather. He has boiled syrup 21 days so far, right around his average each year, and expects to get a few more days in before it gets too warm.