life in the Kearsarge area

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Maple madness

Be on the lookout for bellowing smoke stacks in March. This means that the maple sugaring season has begun.

For many, the draw is the aroma of the sugarhouse — the addictive smell of boiling maple — and the opportunity to taste the warm syrup. For others, it’s the chance to venture out of the house. “After being cooped up in the house all winter, I’m ready for a tromp out in the woods to tap trees and put up tubing. It’s nice to get out this time of the year,” says Barbara Lassonde, publicist for the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association and a maple syrup producer with her husband, Don.


Van Webb of Harding Hill Farm in Sunapee agrees. “I love this time of the year — spring, change of seasons, the renewal,” he says.

Even if you know how maple syrup is made — from tapping the sugar maples to boiling sap in an evaporator over a blazing hot fire — it is still a treat to visit working sugarhouses and learn more about the families who continue the ancient tradition of making syrup. Will Leavitt’s sugarhouse was built in winter 2005, but his family has “been doing some sort of sugaring for more than 50 years,” the Sunapee resident says.

The sugarhouse on Harding Hill Farm was built in the 1920s. “It’s quite an antique,” says Webb. “My dad started in that sugar house in 1963 or 1964, I’ve helped since the 1970s, and now my son is going to start sugaring this year.” The only modern technology is a reverse osmosis machine; Webb still uses an old wood-fired evaporator to make the syrup, between 225 and 350 gallons a season.

This year, New Hampshire Maple Weekend will be held on Saturday and Sunday, March 28 and 29, typically from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s free to visit the sugarhouses in operation; just bring along your wallet to purchase a jug of warm syrup. For more information, go to


Where to Go

Ben’s Sugar Shack

693 Route 103, Newbury



Courser Farm

427 Schoodac Road, Warner



Harding Hill Farm

131 Route 103, Sunapee



Kearsarge Gore Farm

173 Gore Road, Warner


Leavitt Family Maple

546 North Road, Sunapee



Tucker Mountain Maple

224 Tucker Mountain Road, Andover


Valley View Maple Farm

1269 Main Street, Springfield