NH’s Best Maple Syrup

NH’s Best Maple Syrup
by Barbara Mills Lassonde

Plymouth, NH––February 16, 2024––Where can you find the best maple syrup in New Hampshire? According to the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association, it’s Will-A-Way Maples in South Newbury. James Gove and Melissa Storrs, proprietors of Will-A-Way Maples recently took first place in the Carlisle Competition at the Association’s annual meeting in Plymouth.

In order to compete for the Carlisle trophy, each maple syrup sample must place first, second or third at a county fair. Gove and Storrs won ribbons at Hopkinton, Hillsborough and Deerfield fairs in 2023. Judging is based on clarity of the syrup, density and flavor. Winning the Carlisle award is difficult, because all of the entries are outstanding.

I visited Will-A-Way Maples to see what all the fuss was about. As I drove into the yard, steam billowed from the roof of the sugar house, telling me this year’s maple season has already begun and syrup is being made. Inside the sugar house, a cloud of maple-scented steam filled the building, giving a warm, cozy feeling. In the shiny, open evaporator pans, sap boiled furiously, steam rising up through the roof. Gove’s friend, Jim Westgate, pushed 30-inch logs into the fire of the 4×12-foot evaporator.

“We make about 1500 gallons of syrup and burn 17 to18 cords of wood each season,” Gove said.

I asked what makes his syrup better than the others. “The trees and the soil we have affect the flavor of the syrup,” Gove replied. “I’m also a perfectionist. My syrup is exactly the right density before it goes into the filter press, I taste each batch to be sure the flavor is right, and I keep everything clean. The evaporator pans are cleaned at the end of the day, which, I think, makes a higher quality syrup and keeps the sugar sand from accumulating.”

Sugar sand, or niter is a naturally-occurring substance which forms as maple sap is boiled. Filtering the syrup removes the niter, leaving a clear, golden product.

Gove’s interest in making maple syrup began when he helped Arnold (Andy) Anderson of Bradford for several years at Anderson’s sugar house. Gove has been making his own syrup in Newbury for the past 20 years. As his operation expanded, he needed more help, so his brother, Tim and friend Jim Westgate joined in. Now, with over 4,000 taps to collect sap from, Gove receives help from many more friends.

What does one do with 1500 gallons of syrup? “We make some of it into candy, cream, granulated sugar, maple mustard, vinegar, maple-coated nuts, maple jelly, cinnamon syrup and bourbon barrel-aged syrup,” Gove said. “We sell our products from our sugar house, at Spring Ledge Farm in New London, in local stores, through social media, and to wholesale buyers.”

What future plans does Gove have for his maple operation? “I’d like to add another 200-300 taps this year,” he said. “This is a labor of love, and I enjoy doing it. I call it my expensive hobby that just keeps on going.”

Will-A-Way Maples is located at 585 Gillingham Drive, which is at the intersection of Sutton Road and Gillingham Drive in South Newbury, about one mile off Route 103. “If you see steam rising from the sugar house, we’re boiling, and any time we’re boiling, folks can stop in,” Gove said. “We’ll be open for maple weekend, offering free samples of our products, maple ice cream and other treats.”

Runners-up for the Carlisle award were: Second place: Babel’s Sugar Shack in Mason; Third place: Sugarmomma’s Maple in Northwood; Fourth place: Journey’s End Maple in Pittsfield; and 5th place: Black Dog Bees & Maple Trees in Lebanon.

The maple sugaring season occurs only in the Northeastern United States and Southeastern Canada for about 4-6 weeks during February and March. New Hampshire Maple Weekend is March 16 and 17, when sugar houses around the state will be open to visitors, and the NH Maple Producers Association encourages everyone to visit a sugar house to learn how this healthy sweetener is made.

2024 Walter A. Felker Memorial Award Program

2024 Walter A. Felker Memorial Award Program

The New Hampshire Maple Producers Association is proud to sponsor the annual Walter A. Felker Memorial Award Program. Commonly referred to as the Felker Award, the program and the monetary prize, aim to encourage interest by New Hampshire youth in the Granite State’s great maple sugaring tradition.

Open to NH residents, age 16 and younger, entrants are tasked with creating a project focused on any aspect of NH maple sugaring. This is purposely broad to allow youth to think outside of the box. Science projects, art projects, historical projects or any other projects are all welcome.

To participate in Felker Award competition, each entrant must

1. Be under the age of 16 years old and a NH resident
2. Complete the submission form and include it with their project
3. Create a project on anything NH maple-related
4. Write an essay about their project
a. If submitting a maple syrup entry, a written summary of the process used
to create the entry must be included

The winners were:
1st Place -Trevor Gaudet
2nd Place – Josiah Hannu

Attached is a picture (Josiah Hannu, Trevor Gaudet, Andrew Chisholm and Dale Smith).

Lawrence A. Carlisle Memorial was awarded to the best NH maple syrup in 2024

The Lawrence A. Carlisle Memorial was awarded to the best NH maple syrup in 2024!

This award is presented annually by the NH Maple Producers Association for excellence in production of maple syrup. Any NHMPA member can enter, and participation from novice to advanced sugarmakers is encouraged.

Commonly referred to as the Carlisle Award, the award is named for Lawrence A. Carlisle, a commissioner of Agriculture in the 1920s and 1930s, devoted to the development of the maple industry in New Hampshire and best known for introducing the maple grading system.

In a field of 9 competitors, James Gove and Melissa Storrs from Will-A-Way Maples took home the Carlisle Award.

5th place: Jason and Jennifer Weale, Black Dog Bees & Maple Trees

4th place: Marty and Amy Boisvert, Journey’s End Maple

3rd place: Debra Locke, Sugarmomma’s Maple

2nd place: Jeff and Paula Babel, Babel’s Sugar Shack

1st place: James Gove and Melissa Storrs, Will-A-Way Maples

Andrew Chisholm, President NHMPA, James Gove and Melissa Storrs from
Will-A-Way Maples, and Steven Roberge.

    2nd place: Jeff and Paula Babel, Babel’s Sugar Shack

3rd place: Debra Locke, Sugarmomma’s Maple

4th place: Marty and Amy Boisvert, Journey’s End Maple

5th place: Jason and Jennifer Weale, Black Dog Bees & Maple Trees

Moving Forward Together: Renew Your Association Membership Soon!

Moving Forward Together 

Dear Member:

It’s hard to believe summer is behind us, and we are deep into Fall – which means it’s time to start membership renewals.  

This past summer brought many challenges to the farming community across our state, from an exceptional frost/freeze event in May, to record rainfall for much of the region.  Given these challenges, I know as maple producers we all look to the 2024 maple season with optimism and high expectations.

We should also look forward to our association’s future with an optimistic outlook and high expectations.  2024 will be a year that puts the “brand” of New Hampshire Maple on a path to be truly sought after for our unique attributes.  

New Hampshire as a maple producing state is small compared to our neighbor to the north and our neighbor to the west.  However, producers in New Hampshire have a big story.  Show me a bottle of NH maple & you can show your customer the trees where that bottle came from. Small is our strength.  Your pride of what goes into every bottle of NH Maple is your strength.  As an association working together, we can have a big impact on getting the New Hampshire maple story told.  

We have a lot of meaningful opportunities to share for 2024 – details will be discussed at the annual meeting on January 27th, at the Common Man in Plymouth NH.  We will have guest speakers, a lot of new information on the ACER grant, and as always, the Carlisle Award. 

Your membership in our association is what gives New Hampshire Maple a voice and a story. 

Click here to renew your membership now!

Click here to register for the annual meeting!

All the best,
Andrew Chisholm
Interim President NHMPA

TOPP Applications for Mentors & Mentees are Open!

TOPP Applications for Mentors & Mentees are Open!

NOFA-NH is a Core Partner in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic TOPP region and is excited to work
with farmers across New Hampshire on this exciting mentorship program opportunity.

Farmers: Apply to be a TOPP Mentor or Mentee by August 31, 2023.

  •  If you have experience with organic farming and want to guide other farmers through the organic transition process, you can apply to be a paid mentor through TOPP.
  • If you have experience farming and are interested in learning how to transition your operation to organic, you can apply for free mentorship through TOPP.

‘Cautiously optimistic’: Maple syrup producers expect a good season this year

‘Cautiously optimistic’: Maple syrup producers expect a good season this year

Maple syrup producers in New Hampshire are expecting a season that could potentially outperform

Sunnyside Maples, based in Loudon, boiled their first batch of maple syrup on Valentine’s Day — a whole week earlier than anticipated.

production in recent years.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the state produced 167,000 gallons of syrup in 2022 — a 31% uptick from the previous year.

But Andrew Chisholm, the president of the New Hampshire Maple Producers’ Association, said with production starting earlier due to an “unusually warm winter,” this season could beat out last year’s.

“I’m cautiously optimistic about a good season,” he said.

Mike Moore, who runs Sunnyside Maples out of Loudon, said he had his first batch of syrup to boil on Valentine’s Day, when he usually expects the season to start about a week later.

Moore said he’s already produced 25 to 30% of his crop.

“And some producers were able to jump on it a week quicker than we were, so some people made syrup before I was even ready,” Moore said.

Maple season typically starts in February and ends in April, but warmer temperatures allowed some producers to begin tapping trees in early January — a whole month earlier than what’s normally expected.

“It’s the earliest start in years,” said Chisholm, who’s collected maple syrup for more than 40 years. “We’re having spring-like temperatures during the day, and colder temperatures at night,” he said, which is ideal for maple production.

As our climate changes, winter is the fastest warming season in the region. According to New Hampshire’s state climatologist, it’s warming three times faster than summer.

Moore said he’s gearing up for Maple Weekend, an annual mid-March event in the state for which sugarhouses open their shops to visitors.

“We’ll be doing our normal thing, and…we don’t know if we’ll have sap, but we’ll be boiling something, whether it’s water or not,” he said.


Read the full article here.

NH’s Most Interesting Mapler Talks Maple Weekend on March 18 & 19

NH’s Most Interesting Mapler Talks Maple Weekend on March 18 & 19

You know how maple syrup just arrives at the grocery store, and then winds up on your table? Of course you don’t, (flap)Jack – because that’s not at all how it happens.

It’s actually an arduous, delicate process, all so you can smack your lips and enjoy some waffles, pancakes, or French toast. Or pasta – an underrated combo cultivated by Buddy the Elf.

Meet Andrew Chisholm – airline pilot by day, mapler by other day. Walter White if he had eschewed the ills of crystals and embraced the sweetness of maple.

Do his contemporaries know of this dual life?

“A few of them do,” said Chisholm. “I don’t cross the streams too often. Some of the maple producers know that I’m a pilot, but not many, and some pilots know that I’m a maple producer.”

The FAA need not worry. Chisholm, who is also President of the NH Maple Producers Association, resists the urge to make mid-air detours to check on the miles of tubes set up in the woods near his farm in Kingston to reap the benefits of cold nights and warmer days – the magic recipe for producing syrup.

It’s a big time for producers such as Chisolm Farm in Hamptstead, as it’s Maple Month in the state of New Hampshire. “This is like our Super Bowl right here this month,” says Chisolm. “We prepare all year for this month.”

Not just for sentimental reasons, but because March is when maplers get to see what kind of haul they’re dealing with (especially tricky, given the bizarre weather we’ve seen this winter).

“This is when that sap flows through those trees, and trees are trying to wake up for spring,” says Captain Maple himself. “What makes that happens is the sap going up through the tree in these cold nights and warm days.”

Read More: NH’s Most Interesting Mapler Talks Maple Weekend on March 18 & 19 | https://shark1053.com/new-hampshires-most-interesting-mapler-discusses-maple-weekend-on-march-18-19/?utm_source=tsmclip&utm_medium=referral

Tapping Maple in Tamworth with Sununu and Madison Elementary School Children

Tapping Maple in Tamworth with Sununu and Madison Elementary School Children


TAMWORTH – Ahead of the upcoming NH Maple Weekend, March 18 and 19, when almost 200 sugarhouses in the state are open to the public, Gov. Chris Sununu tapped a century-old maple on the grounds of the Remick Farm Museum with students from the Madison Elementary School Monday.

Third grader Ari Gray stepped up to help the governor place the spile – or tap – into the stately maple in a field with cows overlooking the scene and geese flying overhead, while his parents and others from the school watched along with leaders of state government.

It took only a few seconds for all three holes to begin to drip sap, which the governor tasted by dipping his hand.

New Hampshire Maple Producers Association, Inc. is celebrating 80 years as a non-profit trade association this year and the tapping so far has been sweet in parts of the state that have seen the sap run.

Considered one of the first signs of spring, the season can last from 15 to 35 days but is largely concentrated in the month of March.

Each year, the organization enlists the help of the governor to tap a tree and bring the process to the

Gov. Chris Sununu gets a first lick after tapping a maple tree in Tamworth. Paula Tracy photo

public’s attention. Last year, the governor went to Westmoreland to promote March as Maple Sugar Month in the state.
Kate Stanley, a teacher at Madison Elementary, and her husband Tim Robinson own Turkey Street Maples, a sugar house in Chocorua, New Hampshire and they have allowed the school’s third and fourth graders to learn about the process which is unique to this corner of the world.


Read More Here