Meet Your Local Sugarhouse: Trail Side Sugar House’s Zach Barton
This Andover sugarhouse focuses on community and quality maple products
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 Zach Barton. Zach is the founder of Trail Side Sugar House, a sugarhouse that’s been operating in Andover since 2013. Read on to learn all about the sugarhouse and this year’s sugaring season.
Tell us about the history of your sap house.
Zach: “Trail Side Sugar House started in 2013. After growing up around maple sugaring, I decided to start my own journey in the wonderful world of maple. We cut trees off of the property and milled them out. The main building was constructed with some help from friends. The original building was just a main room with an evaporator in the middle and a woodshed off the back. In 2015, Trail Side got a big expansion when we turned the woodshed into a kitchen and built a bigger woodshed off of the end of the building. Another addition went off the new woodshed in 2017 that added a heated room for a sink and our reverse osmosis machine. The last addition was in 2020 when we added the main evaporator room for our new state-of-the-art wood-fired evaporator and boxed in our woodshed to turn it into a tank room due to our new evaporator we do not need the volume of wood we once did.”
What makes your sugarhouse special or different?
Zach: “Our sugarhouse is special to us because of the post-and-beam construction, and the fact that the wood came from the property in which the building sits.”
What’s the story behind the name of your sap house?
Zach: “Trail Side established its name from the snowmobile trail that passes just behind the sugarhouse. On a good season when there is plenty of snow and the sap runs early, people are able to stop and visit on snowmobiles.”
What are you best known for?
Zach: “What makes us unique is that we still use wood to make our maple syrup, which is the traditional way of production. We are best known for our syrup, cream and candy, but also during maple month we are known for our maple donuts and maple whoopie pies that always seem to bring people back for more.”
Tell us about the most memorable day you’ve had working on the farm.
Zach: “We love nothing more than warm spring days when the sap is running the hardest and you question if your tanks are going to hold it all, but they always seem to find room for it. Maple weekend memories always stick with us because we get to meet new faces and see returning customers and friends from years past.”
Do you have anything exciting planned this season – new products, experiences or milestones?
Zach: “This season we plan to keep things a little more simple due to COVID, though we do strive to beat our record of gallons produced. We will be dedicating this season to not only a huge helper, but Trail Sides’ biggest supporter that passed away this summer unexpectedly leaving behind a wife and three children at the age of 40.”
What keeps you passionate about doing what you do?
Zach: “What keeps us passionate is being outside and working in the woods. We also love spending time with family and friends, and hearing all the great remarks about the products we work so hard to make. It truly brings everyone together when the days are getting longer and everyone is excited to see winter go.”
How can people best support you right now?
Zach: “We strive to make the best products we can, and since COVID has hit, our sales have dropped due to the cancellation of maple weekend and people just not going out as much. The best support we can get is people buying local and stopping by the sugar house to buy our products. We go above and beyond all the COVID protocols on being safe. We can do curbside and get the customers what they are after safely and quickly.”