Meet Your Local Sugarhouse: Meadow View Sugarhouse’s Nick and Cindy Kosko
The co-founders of this Union sugarhouse talk about maple sugaring with their family
We may be biased, but we stand by the fact that Granite State maple syrup is where it’s at. Visit a sugarhouse and get a closer look at the maple process during New Hampshire Maple Month is held March 1 through March 31. Sugarhouses around the state will open their doors to the public (with masks and social distance rules in place), offering a behind-the-scenes look at how sap becomes the delicious stuff that graces our Sunday brunch tables. To help celebrate this tasty, golden month, we’re starting a series of “Meet Your Local Sugar House” profiles to introduce you to some of the sweet sugar houses around New Hampshire and the men and women behind them.
For our latest profile, meet Nick and Cindy Kosko. Nick and Cindy are the co-founders of Meadow View Sugarhouse, a sugarhouse that operates out of Union, New Hampshire. Read on to learn all about the sugarhouse’s history and this year’s sugaring season.
Tell us about the history of your sap house.
Nick and Cindy: “Meadow View Sugarhouse opened to the public in 2010. We began maple sugaring in 2006 using a turkey fryer with trees on our own property. We slowly added more taps by tapping at family and friends’ trees in the Rochester, Farmington and Somersworth area. This was a small hobby for our family. We purchased a small hobby evaporator and enjoyed making the liquid gold for our family and friends.
Soon the ‘maple bug’ hit us and it began to be too small of a unit. We expanded to a bigger evaporator several times over the years as we have grown, and we expanded from 10 trees to over 2,000 trees today. This still remains a ‘hobby’ for us since we both work full-time jobs. Maple sugaring begins for us around mid-February and ends mid-April. We begin hauling in the sap and processing all of the sap every evening around 6 p.m., and some nights we end well after midnight. Nick has maintained the 100-plus acres of maple woods we lease in the area. During the season, he transports the raw sap in our stainless steel tank from the maple woods to our sugarhouse over multiple trips each day. Our sugarhouse is a state-of-the-art setup, using only stainless steel and food-grade materials in the process. Our sap is processed immediately into syrup and placed into stainless drums or hot-packed for consumption. Cindy is a certified teacher in the area and has continued to add each year to the educational portion of our sugarhouse. We provide specialized tours for groups such as schools, Boy/Girl Scouts, disabled groups and so many more. We have a small gift shop on site that is open year-round on a call basis. We also have an online store that purchases can be made and we provide shipping across the world.
We love participating in New Hampshire Maple Month. Every year we open our doors and welcome thousands of visitors from all over the country and world. We have guided tours, educational materials and even a little educational center describing the history of maple sugaring. We are proud to be a New Hampshire Seal of Quality producer since the beginning of the sugarhouse. We are also proud to be one of the limited certified organic maple producers in the state. This requires us to follow stricter guidelines, and requires inspections from the Department of Agriculture to ensure we are following the best practices. We are also excited to have received many awards over the years for best syrup in the county, and for several years we were recognized with the Governor’s Award for Agricultural Education. We have also been named one of the top 10 sugarhouses to visit in the state of New Hampshire for multiple years. The entire sugaring process is completed by just our small family, which includes our two children who are actively involved in the maple weekend events by providing tours and helping with our many free maple samples.”
What’s the story behind the name of your sap house?
Nick and Cindy: “The Meadow View Sugarhouse was named because we overlook the Union Meadows. Our property sits high up on the hill overlooking the beautiful view of water, wildlife and nature.”
What makes your sugarhouse special or different?
Nick and Cindy: “Our sugarhouse is one of a dozen that is a certified organic producer in the state of New Hampshire. Our guidelines for producing maple syrup are stricter and we must have documentation for our entire process. We also are a New Hampshire Seal of Quality producer.”
What are you best known for?
Nick and Cindy: “We are best known for providing a clean, inviting experience to our visitors at the sugarhouse. On Maple Weekend, we are also known to have large crowds who enjoy the live band, free ‘maple dogs’ and many free samples. We provide guided tours, and educational materials are available on a stroll out into the maple woods on the property. The sugarhouse is also a showpiece. To be able to walk in and smell the amazing maple smells billowing out and the shiny stainless-steel equipment that is boiling the clear liquid sap into a beautiful liquid gold is a fantastic experience for our consumers. If you take a short walk into the shop, you will be surrounded by maple options, from pure maple syrup in every grade available in our custom plastic jugs, to glass containers to our pure maple cream, to maple candies, maple cotton candy and our maple taffy. Don’t forget to check out our infused syrups that include a vanilla, cinnamon, chipotle and hibiscus. We also have our bourbon aged maple syrup, which was featured on CNN Travel.”
What was it about the location that attracted you?
Nick and Cindy: “Our sugarhouse is located in our backyard of our home. We started as a small family hobby and transformed into the amazing experience that you can taste for yourself today. We love educating people on how our process is done, and we welcome people to stop by and sample our products. Unfortunately, our sampling has been curtailed due to the pandemic. We continue to follow the strict CDC guidelines in maintaining safety for all visitors. We are easily located off of Route 16 in the small village of Union.”
Tell us about the most memorable day you’ve had working on the farm.
Nick and Cindy: “The most memorable day was receiving our newest evaporator, as it was the start of our major expansion and our maple lease. The opportunities this machinery addition brought to our family was incredible. We are so grateful for the many kind words from our visitors, including special visitors like US senators and even news reporters. To be featured on New Hampshire programs and even see our name on a top 10 list brings us so much pride. We are so proud to share this experience with the community and hope all of our visitors leave our sugarhouse with a great experience.”
Do you have anything exciting planned this season – new products, experiences or milestones?
Nick and Cindy: “We weren’t able to hold our annual Sugaring Party this season due to the pandemic, but we will continue to have our products available for sale. Visitors are also allowed to stroll out into the woods and see the tubing setup and ask questions along the way. Due to some of the restrictions, we will have to limit some of the activities we normally do, but we love to share the maple experience and still invite the public to stop by.”
What keeps you passionate about doing what you do?
Nick and Cindy: “We love educating people on the process of maple sugaring. We love to answer questions and see the smiles. Maple sugaring is a great activity to get families outdoors, and to see what nature can provide us and the natural sweetener that mother nature is giving us. We love the friends we have made during the adventure, old and new. Some of these friends are neighbors and some are now part of the family. It has been an amazing experience for our family.”
How can people best support you right now?
Nick and Cindy: “We have an online store at mvsugarhouse.com for pick-up orders or mail order. We also have a Facebook page for people to like and follow us. As the season begins, we provide updates and even contests and announce specials during the season, sometimes even special recipes to try. Call or email us if you want to schedule a visit to ensure we are available and leave a message at (603) 842-0416 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We love hearing from customers and if people have ideas or suggestions, we encourage them to reach out. We have so many ideas for future events and can not wait to allow visitors to see some of those plans.”