“Vermont sugar makers made over a million gallons of syrup last year.”
~ Dan Backus, Kingdom Mountain maple-syrup producer
Dan Backus has been a sugar-maker for 27 years. Every year, in early spring, he pulls on his warm gear and snowshoes and heads out into the woods to set his taps and lines and wait for the temperature to hit that sweet spot just above freezing that sees the sap run.
It takes anywhere from 35 to 60 gallons of sap to make a gallon of maple syrup, cooking down through an evaporator so the sugar concentrates. “Sap is the water the trees are bringing up from the roots. You can taste the future syrup in the sap, but it’s quite a lot more diluted. It’s clear. It looks like water. As it gets cooked, as it evaporates, it darkens and sweetens. The sugar is the carbohydrates the trees store in their roots,” says Dan.
Kingdom Mountain Farm is nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains, backing up to mostly forest. They raise beef cows and grow hay in their open pasture land, and cut firewood and sawlogs, but mostly, Dan works in the woods as a maple syrup farmer.
They supply maple syrup to the local outdoor center, where Dan’s wife Kim also works as a chef, school kitchens through the Green Mountain Farm Direct, and Newport Natural Market and Café.
"We’re really enthusiastic about the local food movement that’s happening here in Vermont,” says Dan. “The whole farm scene here is really thriving. There are a lot of good people farming in this region. It’s a great place.”