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Celebrating 50 Years of Butternut Mountain Farm

Relative to a maple tree’s life cycle, Butternut Mountain Farm is considered young. It takes 40 to 50 years for a tree to mature into productivity (then going on to produce for more than a century). In 2023 Butternut Mountain Farm celebrates 50 years of making pure maple syrup. Like a young maple, we still have much to give. As we await the future, we are delighted to commemorate this milestone with the people who have made, and continue to make, bringing pure maple syrup to the table possible.

David Marvin, founder of Butternut Mountain Farm, led our establishing season with a small crew of friends (including Steve Wilbur who can still be spotted on Butternut Mountain) in 1973. The first season is etched in memory. “The first boil was on March 10th. It was a warm day,” David recalls. Perhaps it was the brand-new tubing and therefore minimal line maintenance that afforded consistent sap runs that year. Perhaps it was because the trees hadn’t been tapped before, or the weather was just right, or that the Marvin’s took care of the land. Whatever the variables, 1973 is remembered as an above average season. Each tap made about 1 quart of maple syrup that year. In 2023, our goal per tap is half a gallon.

Our first boil of 2023 was on February 15, which speaks to the uniqueness of each sugaring season. In 1973, Vermont made 344,000 gallons of maple syrup. Forty-nine years later, in 2022, Vermont produced 2.5 million gallons, which speaks to the growth and change of the maple business.

Season start dates and maple syrup quantities may change per year, but one thing that has remained the same over 50 years: our gratitude.

“There’s an immense sense of gratitude,” David Marvin says.

On seeing Butternut Mountain Farm reach this milestone, David says, “I feel a sense of comfort because I feel like we’re on a path to sustainability. You can’t leave that path because it’s never accomplished. It’s always a work in progress.” Sustainability has always been at the forefront of Butternut Mountain Farm’s priorities. And David Marvin has always been a responsible steward of the land with an innate love for the woods.

“The beauty of sugaring is you can go to the woods with industriousness, to make a living, and leave the place undiminished,” he says. And if you manage it well, you can leave it better than how you found it. The responsibility to steward the land and manage the business is in the trusted hands of second-generation owners Emma and Ira Marvin.

For Emma and Ira, this milestone not only means reflecting on the past but also looking ahead to the future.

“I’m hopeful that Ira and I will be as successful as our mom and dad have been,” Emma says. The responsibility of doing well by the legacy that has been established weighs heavy but is carried with the ease of an inherited passion for pure maple and its source.

Ira reflects on how much Butternut Mountain Farm has achieved, and the folks Butternut Mountain Farm has worked with every day to make this landmark a reality. We are grateful for the dedication and passion of the sugarmakers across the maple producing regions with whom we work. We’re humbled by the enthusiasm and commitment we see in our crew, and we are immensely grateful for our customers who trust us and choose high-quality, pure maple syrup.

As for the future? Ira hopes for another 50 years “continuing to make a living doing what we’re doing, while supporting customers and producers.” It’s important for us to do the work that allows these opportunities to continue to exist in the future.

In terms of a maple tree’s life cycle, yes, we may be young, given a maple tree can be tapped for the entirety of its life, centuries even if stewarded with care. With leadership rooted in respected reliability, quality, service, and a tasteful obsession with maple, we have mighty hopes for at least the next five decades.