Hillsboro Sugarworks is named for the mountain on which our sugarbush is located. When the first settlers arrived in the early 1830s they found the mountain blanketed with sugar maples. For over 130 years, two families, the Beanes and the Sweets, sugared on the north side of Hillsboro Mountain.
Walking through the woods, you can still find old remnants of their farming and sugaring efforts – old sap buckets and the remains of sap tanks and evaporators along with cellar holes and foundations. Sometimes we will be startled by the remnants of an old barbed wire fence in an odd location in the middle of the woods.
When researching our property deeds, in anticipation of expansion on an adjoining piece of property we wished to purchase, we also discovered that one of the early Sweet family members was named Thankful Sweet. We took it as a good sign that this would be a great sugarbush. And it is. We are fortunate enough to have our sugarhouse located at the bottom of the mountain of maples. Because of this, every drop of maple sap flows right to the sugarhouse and can be boiled quickly. This assures that we make the best possible syrup.
In 1979 Dave started sugaring on the Beane land, with a tired horse named Tony, and 80 buckets. Through the years as his interest, and the sugaring bug took hold, he continued to expand and refine his systems. Always staying on the cutting edge of modern technology, from RO systems, to smaller and better spouts, from a wood chip evaporator to the current steam boiling system, he continued to learn and implement better methods. In the finest New England tradition sheds were added to sheds as the building grew to meet the new needs.
In 2002, he and his wife Sue purchased the Sweet property and made the decision to commit to a new business model, and turned it into a full time occupation. Markets were developed. The new sugarbush was put into operation. A new sugarhouse was built, adjoining the existing shed upon shed. A website was built. And we were off on a new adventure. It went successfully from a very large hobby, to a full time, sustainable, year round business.
The woods has a lot of history. There are old stonewalls, old roads, cellar holes, wagon wheels, a beautiful brass cowbell, the head of an old shovel that had been patched and re-patched and reused. All of these objects have been found while sugaring, thinning trees, and pulling spouts, in areas that now seem so remote, you might think no person had ever been there before. The woods have been lived in and lived from for many years. And for that, we are thankful. We continue making history on this piece of land that has been lived upon, farmed, hiked and appreciated by many for many generations.