|“There is a human and poetic quality in maples, which is easily felt, and though the land would be worth more for its lumber than for its sugar, many farmers would no more part with their maple bush or orchard than with any precious heirloom.”
- Anonymous, “The Green Mountains in Sugar Time,” Harpers, April, 1881
“This place is the soul and spirit of our business,” says owner and founder of Butternut Mountain Farm, David Marvin. “Even today as the largest volume packager of Vermont Maple Syrup, I can’t imagine having built our business from any other place, but the farm.”
“It’s where we’ve learned, practiced and experienced what true stewardship of the land is all about,” says David. Much of the work on the farm will bear fruit in 40 to 100 years. A section of woods David and his father tended as seedlings nearly 40 years ago was recently brought into production for the first time. David reflects, “Work on that kind of time scale teaches you humility and gives you a long term view of things.”
Much of what makes the farm special is the work. “You develop a real connection to the place,” says David. “You know the land and the trees intimately. Each season I visit many trees two or three times – in a life time I’ll visit some trees and spots hundreds of times.” For David being able to go into the woods and make a living from them, without diminishing them feels good.
Being a producer as well as a packager provides a unique perspective. “We know what the struggles and rewards are,” he says. “One of the greatest and most satisfying challenges I face is making the farm not just productive, but sustainable,” adding, “It’s something that we should all be striving for – sustainability.”
We hope to manage the forests we are responsible for so that we meet our ownership needs without abrogating any stewardship responsibilities. Generally, we need to be far more concerned with what we leave behind than with what we wish to remove. The complexity and unknowns of the ecosystems we work in are such that only future generations will be able to judge our actions. Meanwhile we must seek wisdom, act humbly and strive to do no harm.