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Vermont Startup Moves Beyond Maple With New Varieties of Syrup

New Leaf Tree Syrups is producing syrups using sap from birch, basswood, walnut, and beech trees

A new Vermont company is carving out a niche for itself in the world of syrup production—by moving beyond maple.

Deep in the woods of Marshfield, you can follow the sap lines not just to maple trees, but now to birches, and other kinds of trees, as well.

Mike Farrell sees growth potential in boiling down sap from trees most sugar makers haven’t considered—like basswood, walnut, beech, and birch—in the state that leads the country in maple syrup production.

From its steaming sugarhouse, Farrell’s New Leaf Tree Syrups produces maple blends and standalone varieties.

“It’s a great way to utilize the woodland and have the healthiest and most diverse forest possible,” Farrell said of turning tree sap into different kinds of syrups.

The company wants to capitalize on the growth in the specialty food sector and on ever-more adventurous American palates, telling foodies that syrups are versatile. They are for pancakes, sure, but also great in cocktails and in both sweet and savory recipes, Farrell said.

The businessman recommended drizzling birch syrup on salmon.

“Some people say citrusy, some people say fruity,” Farrell said, describing the taste of birch syrup.

With 3,000 acres of forestland to draw from, another of Farrell’s goals is strengthening Vermont’s working landscape—respecting natural resources while expanding business uses.

Yaroslav Khromyak buys big drums of raw birch sap from New Leaf wholesale and ships them all the way to Los Angeles, for bottling under the beverage label “Säpp.”

Birch sap drinks have long been popular in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, noted Khromyak, who was born in Ukraine.

“Vermont has quite a reputation across the U.S. for its food and beverages, and we’re aiming to develop that even further,” the beverage entrepreneur told necn and NBC10 Boston.

Lynn Ellen Schimoler works in agricultural business development for the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.

“I think it’s unprecedented to see someone doing it on such a large scale,” Schimoler said of New Leaf Tree Syrups’ operation. “I’m always encouraged to see any Vermont food or farm business that gets out of the box, to be innovative—have a new, fresh approach.”

In just his first season of production, Farrell’s taking New Leaf Tree Syrups into northeast retailers in May and online to a nationwide audience, hoping to convince consumers to branch out in their syrup purchases.

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