BARTON, Vt. (WCAX) Sugaring season may be over, but that isn't stopping a Northeast Kingdom couple from putting in the work year round. His most recent Made in Vermont creation is producing sweet results.
Welcome to Maple Hill Farms, Nick Lussier's hobby. "I say it's just a hobby, but it's kind of getting out of hand now," Lussier said.
Lussier and his father built their sugar shack back in 2015. It took two months to build. To pay for it, Lussier took three jobs, getting just four hours of sleep a day. "I paid for it in cash, so that was pretty exciting. That was quite the accomplishment," Lussier said.
Accomplishments come early and often for Lussier. He sold sap to sugarmakers as a teen, got a degree in agricultural science, bought land near where he grew up and started a Christmas tree farm before becoming a sugarer. "It's just mind blowing from where I started," he said.
There's about 2,500 taps total on this site, but maple syrup is widely produced throughout the area, so Lussier needed to come up with another maple product to make Maple Hill Farms stand out. "We've got cream," he said.
Nick and his girlfriend, Stephanie LaBarron, attended a maple sugaring open house about a year ago. That's when Stephanie had her first taste of maple cream. "And it was pretty much at that point that we decided to make maple cream," she said.
To make Maple Hill Farm's maple cream, they use syrup from the start of maple season, heating it up in a wood fire to about 240 degrees. The wood is from Lussier's full-time job as a landscaper. The cream then goes into a fridge where the temperature drops it to 125 degrees. It then heads into a machine to remove excess moisture. In total, it's about a four-hour process.
"It is smooth, it is silky. Obviously, it's got that nice maple flavor, but it lingers a little longer," LaBarron said.
Thanks to the Farm's website and social media campaign led by LaBarron, maple cream orders have been placed by people all over the country. They recently had a record weekend of sales -- 40 orders in a three-day period, when they normally get just three or four during that time period. It's $8 for a half-pound.
"For us to see something that we've worked so hard to do and create over the years come into a tangible product that I absolutely love, it makes it just that much sweeter I guess," LaBarron said.
"It's just going to get bigger from here," Lussier said.
A proficiency in maple cream, getting Nick Lussier closer than ever to a full-time profession.