You’ve probably never heard of Canada’s Worst Nightmare Maple Syrup. It isn’t sold in stores, but it was our first introduction to maple sugaring. Tucked into a hillside in Norwich, Vermont, our son-in-law, Graham, built a sugar shack a few years ago to share the joys of maple sugaring season with his children. Canada’s Worst Nightmare won’t be starting any trade wars. The small operation produces 40-60 gallons annually, and every drop is given to friends and families. Friends and family gather around the sugar shack and everyone lends a hand. Sap buckets are gathered, wood is split, the fire is stoked, and pancakes are flipped on the griddle as children drink warm syrup from the tap.
After sugaring with Graham a few springs back, we set our sights on the southernmost outpost of maple syrup production: Highland County, Virginia. Home to maple sugaring for over two centuries, Highland County is at the height of the Alleghany Mountains. We met Pat and Valerie Lowry of Back Creek Farms.
Pat and Valerie Lowry gather their sugar water in early March from the maple trees on old farms along Back Creek. It is then boiled down over a wood fire in the same tradition that has produced Highland County syrup since the first settlers came in the early 1800s. It takes over 40 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of maple syrup. The fire is tended constantly until the liquid boils down to the right consistency for syrup.
The first two weekends of March hail the annual Highland County Maple Syrup festival which is a wonderful opportunity to see working sugar houses and sample some of the finest syrup in America.
Stop by the Virginia Made Shop today to stock up on Back Creek Maple Syrup!
Terry and Ginger LeMasurier