Brydonson Farm, Ayers Hill, Potter County

Owned by Bryan and Donna Ianson (and Family)

 “Family is the most important thing” at the Brydonson Farm on Ayers Hill Road just south of Coudersport in beautiful Potter County, where producing maple syrup has been a big part of the lives of Ianson Family members for seven generations.

This picturesque, inviting farm is owned and operated by Bryan and Donna Ianson and their three children and ten grandchildren, who also live on the property.

The Ianson Family moved to the Ayers Hill Area in the early 1800’s, and in 1863 purchased the first parcel of land that has become the sprawling farm. Brydonson Farm began as a modest operation, producing dairy and beef products primarily, but also boiling maple sap and, during Prohibition, making “pigs’ ear,” better known as Moonshine. The first “sugar bush” tapped by the original Ianson settlers is still being used today. “You can cut a tree once but you can tap it forever. Once you cut it, it’s gone,” Bryan said.

 “We were a poor farming family for generations,” Bryan said. In fact, the farm was lost at one point due to back taxes, but within the space of a few decades, Bryan and Donna purchased it back, determined to turn it into a successful endeavor. Donna grew up in Tioga County, and her family tapped Maple trees, as well.

 “To go from a little kettle on an open fire to where we are today is phenomenal,” Bryan said.

The farm now boasts a large, fully-stocked store, a beautiful professional kitchen, and all of the high-tech equipment that allows for the most efficient, safest and most modern way of producing pure maple syrup, jelly, cream, candy, granulated sugar, mustard, sugar-coated nuts, toppings, fudge, barbecue sauce and a wealth of baked goods and other products.

This facility is one of the few large-scale wood-fired operations remaining in the area, making products from the sap of over 11,000 trees annually. Approximately 6,000 of those trees are on Brydonson Farm, including a recent expansion project that laid an additional 70 miles of bright blue tubing to carry the sap to storage through a gravity-fed system.

In addition to producing maple products, Brydonson Farm sells all the equipment needed to tap trees and refine sap for everyone from the backyard hobbyist to commercial producers.

The Iansons take pride in the historic significance of maple sugaring, and do anything they can to promote education of this traditional art. Tours are available at the farm year round, and have been given to elementary, secondary and university-level students and many different groups including one comprised of 80 United Nations dignitaries from around the world.

Bryan has been called “Mr. Maple” by generations of children in Potter County and the surrounding area for his frequent educational presentations at local schools.

The Ianson Family also produced a video entitled “The Sweetest Drip” that explains the history, equipment, and the start-to-finish process of creating all types of maple products, laid out in chapters for ease of use by educators.

The video includes a song called “Tap, Tap, Tonk” written and performed by Mike Papalia, inspired by the sound made when a tree is tapped and the overabundance of squirrels in the maple trees during one particularly hard winter.

Bryan and Donna’s grandchildren are featured in “The Sweetest Drip,” and Bryan says, “We want to keep the traditions alive. The grandkids are there to help and to learn to be the next generation of syrup producers.”

The focus on passing this information on is evident throughout the grounds. Children’s artwork hangs in the home, school projects on maple production grace the walls of the store, and tiny boot prints are evident in the yard around the Sugar Shack.

Bryan and Donna’s three children, Bryonna, Bert and Bart, have homes on the farm property, and they and their spouses and children are involved in maple production and general farming. The Iansons raise cows, pigs and chickens, and Bryonna produces wonderfully-scented jar candles known throughout the area by the moniker “Swede Scents.”

The Iansons also maintain the family cemetery, nestled on a hillside in a quiet section of the sprawling farm, fittingly surrounded by blue tubing.

Brydonson Farm is located at 592 North Ayers Hill Road, Coudersport, just off PA-872 between Austin and Coudersport in central Potter County. The farm store is open and tours are available year-round. Call (814) 274-9680 to check availability and to order a pancake breakfast for your group

To reach Brydonson Farm from Route 6, take PA-872 South from just east of Coudersport for approximately 2 miles. Turn left onto Ayers Hill Road. Travel four miles, being sure to stay on the paved portion of the road. Brydonson Farms’ Sugar House will be on the left side of the road.

 

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