256 Dale Road, Weston, Vt.
Bobo’s Mountain Sugar has evolved over the years from a family tradition and hobby, to a commercial scale wood-fired Vermont maple sugaring company. Owners Tina Hartell and husband Skye Chalmers purchased the 40-acre property on Markham Mountain in 2008. “It goes back to my father-in-law, who purchased the property back in the ‘50s,” Hartell explained, “and we purchased it from him.”
Chalmers’ father Allan, or as some knew him as Bobo, sugared more as a hobby, “and we moved it into a commercial realm,” explained Hartell. They kept the tradition of his nickname “Bobo,” since he sugared on the property previously. Hartell and Chalmers originally wanted to farm on the land, but as it is a south facing, forested hillside with many maple trees, sugaring just made sense. “It’s kind of what the land was meant to do,” Hartell said.
After debate on how to use the property, and deciding on sugaring, the couple began building their barn to use for the sugarhouse and purchasing equipment. Their first season sugaring began in 2013. Now, Hartell and Chalmers have about 2,500 taps on their Weston hillside.
“All of our sap comes from one sugarbush, so the syrup tastes like Bobo’s Mountain: the soil, minerals, organic material, water, and the trees.” They also use locally sourced wood from their own land, as well as their neighbors, to fuel the fires that boil down their sap. Bobo’s Mountain Sugar is just as pure as their land. Hartell explains to visitors that there are no additives in their syrup, “It’s just the pure, concentrated sap,” she says. No ingredient label is needed.
Hartell also noted that sugaring is “an extremely labor-intensive job.” The couple collects all the sap, filters and boils it, and stores it all themselves. It takes anywhere from 40 to 60 gallons of sap to boil down to one gallon of pure maple syrup. With the maple industry growing, Bobo’s Mountain Sugar falls into a midsized sugaring business. “So we’re becoming more micro as compared to the larger operations,” Hartell said, “and we’re very happy with where we’re at!”
Bobo’s Mountain Sugar is sold at a few local stores in Manchester, Pittsfield, and Burlington, and at some local restaurants as well. Visitors are welcome to stop by the sugarhouse and purchase fresh and local Vermont maple syrup or a t-shirt. Bobo’s Mountain doesn’t have regular retail hours, so call or email ahead of time to be sure someone will be available to help you, or stop by during sugaring season. “Come taste the trees.”