Spring means two things in Northern New Hampshire: mud and maple. Down a long, bumpy dirt road in Pittsburg, worn rough by frost heaves, there is a newly-constructed sugar shack. It’s mid-spring and steam pours out of a metal stack in the roof. Snowmobiles are parked near a garage door, ready to skim over the slush and mud into the vast expanse of the sugar bush. The next closest neighbor is in another country—literally—a farmer across the border in Canada.
Here is where you’ll find Jules Rancourt (pictured) and his crew boiling up thousands of gallons of maple syrup—Kate & Jen’s maple syrup to be exact. Kate and Jen are Rancourt’s daughters and this is, by every account, a family business. It’s also a new phase of life for Rancourt, a friendly-faced and hardworking framer who’s ready to put down the hammer and pick up the hydrometer (though his prior craft is evident in the quirky charm of his high-tech sugar shack).
The maple business is labor and land intensive. It takes patience and a lot of land to produce enough syrup for a sugar shack to be an income source. When Rancourt did the math, he knew he needed at least 6,000 hard maple trees to clear the threshold, but the land he was eyeing had been bought by Northern Pass. His hopes were not dashed. He saw opportunity.
Within a few short weeks of contacting Northern Pass, Rancourt signed a lease that gives him access to about 3,400 hard maple trees. That brings his total tap count to well over 8,000, far above the minimum he needed to make his business a success.
This is just one way Northern Pass is working with community members to spur economic development and encourage smart use of the land. We’re pleased to help Rancourt’s burgeoning business get off the ground and wish him sweet success!
To hear Jules tell the story, please check out this video.