RICK MAYOTTE East Fairfield, VT
A small, thoughtfully designed space, Rick Mayotte’s sugarhouse is set up for high syrup production. He’s running over 50,000 taps across beautiful land in Fairfield, Vermont, and he hopes to increase his production in the coming year. He grins as he recounts the story of building this new facility, and says they’re getting close to outgrowing it now. He describes how one night, he and his wife fell asleep in the old sugaring house and awoke to find the sap was running over the edge of the pan and across the floor. At that point they realized the need to increase their capacity. “We knew it was worth doing,” Rick says about building the new sugarhouse, “This whole thing is a lot of fun. It’s a lot of work. But it’s a lot of fun.”
Two generations ago, Rick’s grandfather used to help sugar on this land. As a child Rick would beg his dad, aunt, or uncle until they would let him help with the taps. Today, Rick’s five-year old granddaughter is learning to manage her first four sap buckets, getting ready to possibly take over the operation way down the road.
A lot has changed since Rick’s grandfather’s time of sugaring on this property. Vacuum pumps and hoses replaced the buckets, and the new sugarhouse has two efficient and modern evaporators. Rick is currently researching even more efficient ways to produce his organic syrup, including new evaporator technology and renewable energy sources. He even has a new app on his phone that notifies him of any breaks or leaks in the sap lines.
But the core of what Rick loves about sugaring remains the same: making delicious syrup with his family, being outdoors in the woods, and getting to welcome in springtime with excitement as the sap starts flowing.
“I’ve been doing business with the Marvin family since the late 70’s. We were both much smaller then and it’s been an excellent relationship ever since,” he says. “Butternut Mountain Farm has always been conscientious as they grow. That security, and this relationship, has given me the opportunity to grow my own business and keep doing what I love.”
“It’s just such an exciting industry” Rick continues. “To get a product from a maple tree that is not much different from a glass of water and then to turn it into a syrup that is delicious and a healthier sweetener is really incredible. I love doing it.”
His message to anyone trying his syrup for the first time: “Enjoy it! Experiment with it! Try it in your coffee in the morning. You won’t regret it.”
We work with over 350 sugar makers to supply maple syrup to our operation. Each one of these farmers shares a vision of forest stewardship and commitment to quality that is similar to the one that has driven our work for decades. These great folks from across Vermont and from maple-producing regions have a story. Stories that we think you all might enjoy. We are excited to introduce our Maple Producer Spotlight series where we will share inspiring stories of sugar makers and highlight their vision and commitment to making the highest quality maple syrup found in the world.