"To really feel a forest canopy we must use different senses, and often the most useful one is the sense of imagination. ~ Joan Maloof"
How it all began...
I was bit by the “syrup bug” as a young teen while hanging lines at Raker’s Sugar Bush. I remember Bob having me chase down what snow was left on the ground - I was kind of puzzled what it was for. He heated up some syrup and poured it over the snow. It was a yummy maple taffy, Sugar-On-Ice! Bob welcomed everyone into his sugar house and explained how the evaporator worked. He always had fresh popcorn and a Dixie cup of hot syrup to dip it in for us. Bob passed away in 2011, but I will never forget his hospitality and willingness to teach the next generation about farming, maple, and life in general.
My name is Rachel Courtney, and I am the owner of Sugar Mama’s Appalachian Maple. I graduated from Mansfield University in 2013, and I now work as a Freelance Graphic Designer. I love the artistic end of my job, but it’s hard to sit inside in front of a computer for hours. I prefer to be out and about outside.
I live in Mansfield (located in the PA Wilds) with my husband, Hal Courtney, and our daughter, Ruthann, on his family's dairy farm. His father, Harold, milks about 75 Registered Holsteins. Hal owns and operates Courtney’s Garage, does all the equipment maintenance for the farm, and helps with field work. Hal and I have a small, but growing, herd of Angus.
A few years ago, I tapped a couple of trees in our front yard for fun. Since my dad did the same thing at his place decided to join forces the following year. We hung buckets for collection and processed in turkey cookers (talk about time consuming) on the weekends. We decided we needed a faster boiling method, so we converted an old wood stove my dad had built years ago into an arch and welded a stainless pan with a few divisions to cook faster. The homemade evaporator was set up in an old shop my husbands grandfather used to work on his tractors in. We also started tapping about 50 maples in the sugar bush on the hill. Knowing how much potential there was to expand, I decided to take the plunge and started penciling out the design of my official shack. BUT, it needed a name! Anyone who knows me well knows I never pass up the opportunity to insert tacky humor into the conversation. It’s been an ongoing joke between my husband and I that he always wanted to marry a “sugar mama”, and I’m all about making dreams come true, so, Sugar Mama’s it is!
In 2017, with the help of my father, husband and other family we began construction on a 20’x30’ sugar shack. We were able to utilize the completed building in the 2019 season. It's equipped with 3x8 evaporator and a 250 GPH Reverse Osmosis machine. We have expanded the number of taps each year since we started, and we are currently over 2,500 taps.Read more... Read less