Butler Family Maple, Tioga, Tioga County

Owned by: Jody and Jennifer Butler; Daughters Jaylin and Jana

 When Jody and Jennifer Butler heard about Maple Knoll, a century farm located three miles from Jennifer’s parents’ home, being offered for sale, they jumped at the opportunity.

The previous owners helped found the Potter/Tioga Maple Producers Association, and syrup had been produced on the farm beginning in the 1800’s.

It seemed like a perfect fit to the Butlers. Jennifer grew up on a dairy farm, producing maple syrup for farm use. Jody tapped trees throughout high school and early adulthood, using the proceeds from the 300 taps he harvested to put himself through college.

The parcel they purchased includes the historic farmhouse that the Butler’s live in, built in the 1880’s, and the farm’s Sugar House, which they have repaired and use for their own operation.

“We wanted to keep the same kind of tradition that we grew up on, and this is the best thing we can do to keep that value system going,” Jennifer said. “We try to incorporate anything we can to keep our histories and the story going. Everything we use is as much as possible a piece of history. When we’re in the sugar house, it’s stories that entertain us, not electronics.”

Though the Butlers use some modern technology, such as tubing systems and a steam-away, they still use a wood-fired evaporator and go without a reverse osmosis machine.

Anything else that can be reused or recycled is put to good use. Some of the glass-lined dairy tubes used on Jennifer’s parents’ farm are utilized at Butler’s, as are some galvanized steel tanks and other sterile equipment.

Jody maintains thirteen antique tractors on the farm, the newest of them built in 1967. They are used in day-to-day operations and put on display during the annual Maple Weekend held in March, along with over twenty others belonging to family and friends.

When the couple purchased the farm, the sugar house had not been used in over ten years. Jen and Jody cleaned up the equipment and used it, producing enough syrup for the use of themselves and their extended family.

The following year, what equipment could be used in commercial production was kept, while anything unsafe or hard to keep clean was discarded, and new equipment purchased to replace it.

Bryan and Donna Ianson, owners of Potter County’s Brydonson Farms and members of the Potter/Tioga Maple Producers, helped Jody and Jennifer procure the right equipment and get off to a good start.

Jody and Jen maintain approximately 1000 taps on their 70-acre farm on a picturesque hillside near the village of Farmington Hill in northern Tioga County. Most of these are on a tubing system, as are the 1500 maintained on the land of family members and neighbors. Between 100 and 200 of the taps drain into buckets that hang from the trees in the manner used traditionally on the Butler Farm.

The Butlers do not have any immediate plans for expansion. Jody and Jennifer each work full-time jobs and are raising two young daughters, Jaylin and Jana, who love to work on the farm.

“We want this to be something that we love to do, not something that our girls dread,” Jennifer said. “Ultimately, we’re really hopeful one or both of the girls will take it over when we’re ready to retire, so we just try to add something to the operation every year but not necessarily expand.”

Jaylin, the official Butler Family Maple Tour Guide, is excited about her role in the family business. Her younger sister Jana, a toddler, seems happy just to follow her sister’s lead, and parrot what Jaylin says as she talks about the farm.

“My job is to tour all the people and show them the outside,” Jaylin said proudly. “You can eat some good cupcakes my mom makes and drink some lemonade, and there are three different types of soups. I love mom-mom’s maple brownies. I always eat them all. Be careful because it might be a little hard to walk in the yard because we have lots of tractors.”

Boiling demonstrations and tours accompany all the goodies and tractors during the annual Maple Weekend. To reach Butler’s Family Maple, take PA-287 North from Route 6 past Hammond Lake. Turn left onto Elkhorn Road. Drive 2.5 miles and then turn left onto Elkhorn Creek Road. Drive one mile and the farm will be on the left.

For more information on the farm call Jody and Jennifer Butler at (570) 835-4983 or email butlermaple@frontiernet.net.

 

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