Charles B. Nelson Sons
Genesee and Hickox, Potter County
by: Charles and Laura Nelson & Don and Sheila Nelson
by Amanda Jones for the Potter/Tioga Maple Producers and PA Route 6
Charles B. Nelson Sons Farms in Northern Potter County, traditional
methods are used to create the highest-quality Maple Syrup and
products by third-generation Maple Producers Charles and Don Nelson,
and their wives Laura and Sheila.
Nelson Brothers each own property, about a mile from each other over
rolling hills. Don and Sheila live on the family homestead near
Genesee, where the historic sugar house is located.
and Laura purchased their farm near Hickox 40 years ago, and their
property boasts the newly-constructed Candy Kitchen where the
Nelsons create their homemade baked goods and specialty maple
moved around a lot when we were first married. It took us a while to
get settled,” said Charles. “But when we found this place, Laura
said, ‘This is where we’re going to stay,’ and we did.” It is easy
to understand why. The farm sits in the midst of a beautiful,
rolling valley full of farmlands, forest and wildlife; quiet and
peaceful along a dirt road, but only minutes from small, friendly
towns surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery.
and Don are the third generation of Nelson Maple Producers, but the
history of this small operation extends beyond that. The Nelsons
married into the Briggs family early in the twentieth century and
took over the operation where the Briggs family had farmed and
produced maple sugar and syrup for use at home throughout the latter
half of the 1800’s.
1932, a wood-fired evaporator was added, and the farm was able to
make 75-80 gallons of sap per season, mostly for home use but some
was sold or traded. The Nelsons had 350-375 taps with buckets, and
used a horse and wagon to haul a large metal draw tub into which the
sap was drained. In 1949, the sugar house was built, still in use
today at Don and Laura’s.
sap was collected in buckets until 1978, when tubing was added in
some areas along with additional taps.
the Nelsons maintain approximately 750 taps, and about 50% of those
are connected by a gravity-fed tube system.
remaining taps are traditional—spiles tapped in, with sap draining
into metal buckets hanging from the trees’ trunk. The Nelsons load
into a tractor and collect the sap by hand, having to make a long,
laborious loop each day to pour sticky sap from the buckets.
is boiled down in a traditional, wood-fired evaporator. “We do it
the hard way,” Sheila said with a laugh.
small producer, and we’re happy with that. Using these methods gives
us control over the end product,” said Don. “We’re basic, like it
used to be.”
strategy has certainly paid off. The Nelsons have been attending the
Farm Show in Harrisburg since the early 1990’s, and they have taken
Premiere Exhibitor awards twice and Best of Show for their Maple
Syrup twice, most recently in 2013, and they place consistently in
nearly every category they enter. A bin of ribbons and a scrap book
full of memorable moments are kept at the Candy Kitchen, and show a
group of hardworking, accomplished, and traditional maple producers.
of products are available at the Nelson’s Candy Kitchen, located at
214 Grover Hollow Road between Genesee and Hickox. The shop is open
most days throughout the year. Call 814-848-7950 to check
availability or to place an order.
Nelsons make Maple syrup, cream, crumb sugar, jelly, sugar cakes,
maple-vinaigrette dressing, mustard, coated nuts, fudge, maple
peanut brittle, granola, sugared nuts, cookies, gift baskets and
cook books filled with Maple-infused recipes.
B. Nelson Sons’ products can also be found at farmers markets and
craft shows throughout the area, and tours, demonstrations and
samples are available at the Sugar Shack and Candy Kitchen during
To reach the Candy Kitchen, take Route 49 North to the village of
Mills. Turn north onto Genesee/Mills Road. Drive 6.5 miles, and then
turn left onto Hillcrest Road. Take the first right onto Grover
Hollow Road. The farm is on the right, with the kitchen and store
building in the rear.