Sam Bower is the second generation to harvest maple from trees on the side of Mount Kearsarge.
It’s a laborious process, but his parents, Bob and Jennifer, who started Kearsarge Gore Farm in Warner in 1982, taught him a sense of stick-to-itiveness at an early age. They logged their own roads, planted gardens and “learned from the landscape,” tapping maple trees across 400 acres at first with tin buckets and later with plastic tubing.
The farm is one of the stops on Kearsarge Maple Weekend from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and again next weekend.
They have two warnings for potential visitors: “Drive slowly and be prepared for mud,” Bower said with a smile.
The amount of work that goes into the operation doesn’t faze him. He attended the former Thompson School at the University of New Hampshire, where he studied horticulture, forestry, business management and small-engine repair.
Still, running a farm in the 21st century means crafting and continually updating a social media presence and handling lots of spreadsheets. “Now we need to be both farmers and managers. Without that, we could not expand.”
To reduce fuel consumption, Bower and his co-manager, Sarah Hansen, are interested in a reverse osmosis machine, which would cut down on the time for boiling water.
The family and staff currently put out about 2,500 taps. That’s 3 miles of tubing, and it takes four people about a week to set it up.
Hansen remembers the early days of the farm’s maple sugaring, when buckets lined the trees. Hansen was a city girl, originally from Oregon, who majored in English and minored in Spanish. She came to New Hampshire one winter as a volunteer in the sugaring process. Bob Brewer liked her work and offered her a summer position. She’s been on the farm for 10 years.
“I’ve talked to so many people of different backgrounds,” she said, “and once you start farming, you never want to do anything else.”
Kearsarge Gore Farm is a year-round operation. There’s maple in the spring, fresh organic vegetables in summer, cordwood in fall and winter, plus a supply of meat including beef and mutton.
The farm produces about 750 gallons of syrup in an average year, Hansen said. This year they were able to start tapping about 10 days earlier due to milder weather but a following cold snap in late February then halted things.
The new normal is — erratic,” Bower added.
Still, they look forward to this weekend, which coincides with the annual Maple Weekend sponsored by the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association.
All of their merchandise will be out for sale during the month of March: root vegetables, lamb, beef and pork, and every iteration of maple.
In addition, Kearsarge Gore produce can be found at the Concord Co-Operative Market, Warner Public Market and Sweet Beet Market in Bradford.
Its syrup may be purchased at Rising Tide, Kittery, Maine; and Kearsarge Business Center and Cafe One East, both in Warner.
To find details on Kearsarge Maple Weekend activities, go to kearsargechamber.org, or for a listing of activities planned during Maple Weekend celebrations throughout the Granite State, go to nhmapleproducers.com.