Located in North Pomfret, Vermont,
the 160 acre Starbuck Farm sits about 9 miles west of Hanover, New Hampshire (home of Dartmouth College). The heavily wooded area sprawls over steep ridges and verdant valleys, and is less than a mile’s trek from the Appalachian Trail. It is just north of the town of Woodstock, which was chartered in 1761.
Starbuck Farm was established in 1811. It encompasses the majority of a valley which forms the upper watershed of a tributary of Mill Creek and the White River. As with most farms in the area, it evolved from subsistence farming to sheep during the Napoleonic wars and then to a small dairy in the early 1900s. The majority of the property was originally clear cut for pasture, but secondary forests have been growing back since the early 1900’s. The outlines of the old pastures are still defined by iconic field stone walls throughout the woods (see left).
The property was last actively farmed twenty years ago, since that time, the forests have crept back and today, approximately 80% of the property is mixed hardwood, pine and maples, known as “sugar bush”. As documented in the following video, the former owners practiced old style maple syrup collection on several hundred trees using buckets, horse drawn tanks and a wood fired arch.
Plans for the future
Starbuck Farm is enrolled in the Vermont Current Use Program (https://tax.vermont.gov/property/current-use/about) for sustainable management. The farm has an approved forestry plan that allows for tapping of several thousand sugar maples. We are installing modern collection pipelines which deliver to central collection tanks. This more efficient approach reduces vehicle traffic throughout the watershed. The first arm of this collection system was installed in early 2022 on 850 trees. We anticipate that the system will be expanded to approximately 4,000 trees by the end of 2022. We have started the process for organic certification and plan to be in commercial operation by the spring of 2023.
Much thanks to our partners at Holmes Sugaring for all of their expertise throughout this process! https://www.facebook.com/HolmesSugaring
Take a look at the video below from Ibex to hear from the Harrington Family, the former owners of Starbuck Farm, as they describe traditional methods of maple syrup collection.