Deep in the foothills of Pennsylvania is a farm where towering 100-year-old maple trees grow. Where decadent syrup is harvested and protected by the Paul family, just like it had been for the past 156 years.
When it comes to maple syrup, Paul Family Farms makes it a family affair. The family farm has been passed down from generation to generation, evolving from a dairy farm to various livestock and meat before turning its focus to the constant sweetness of maple syrup. Travis Paul, a member of the Paul family, explained the farm has about 8,000 trees tapped each year and produces over 3,000 gallons of maple syrup.
PASSED DOWN FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION
Paul Family Farms was first started by their great, great grandfather, William Paul, who was a soldier for the North in the Civil War. In 1865, he was discharged from the military and decided to homestead on the land where the farm still stands today. The farm was then passed down to each generation and is run by Travis, his dad, and extended family. Travis’s dad, Bud, and uncle, Tim, run the farm daily and in the words of Travis,
“they are the ones who deserve the most credit, they are the true heroes of the Paul Family Farm and legacy.”
Managing the farm each day is the heart of the whole operation. It takes many hours and strict attention to detail. Travis’s dad and uncle handle these daily tasks and make sure everything is running smoothly. When it comes to the sales, Travis and his wife work hard to foster long-lasting relationships with local farmers’ markets and restaurants and grow their online business.
When asked what sets Paul Family Farms apart from other farmers and other maple syrup manufacturers, Travis responded,
“We are very family-oriented. The farm has been in the same place since 1865, making us a large part of the community.”
Travis Paul and his family members
THE LONGER THE PROCESS, THE SWEETER THE SYRUP
In addition to being so community and family-centered, Paul Family Farms practices the age-old technique of wood-firing all their maple syrup. Travis explained the process of boiling down the syrup can be done, “with natural gas, fuel oil, or electric heat.” But to keep the tradition alive, they use natural gas-fueled by wood-firing using timber from around their own farm.
Because it is a slower process to wood-fire their syrup, the syrup takes on a stronger maple and more caramelized flavor. In addition to wood-fired syrup, they only use stainless steel throughout the entire process. This created the high-quality, irresistible maple syrup Paul Family Farms is known for.
Travis joked that his dad and uncle eat more maple syrup than any other human being in the world. It is a constant taste-testing process.
When asked what his favorite part of making maple syrup is, Travis responded, “Definitely the smell during the season. When you open up the door to the sugar shack where we boil hundreds of gallons of maple syrup, it is the most amazing smell in the world. There is no other smell like pure maple syrup.”
While many people associate maple syrup with the holidays, maple season actually begins in February. It takes about a month to tap and prepare the trees for harvesting.
The farm’s maple trees are connected by a tubing system that collects the sap in a five thousand gallon tank. They then transport the sap to the “sugar shack” where it is boiled. It takes 60 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. They collect 200,000 gallons of sap throughout the system.
The majority of the process will then take place in March, making it the busiest month of the year for the Paul family. The syrup is boiled for an average of 30 days a year, and all of their products are made within that 30-day timeframe.
The Sugar Truck
Maple syrup typically lasts 7 years if the bottle is unopened. Opened bottles of pure maple syrup must be refrigerated. Travis shared a neat fun fact about maple syrup: it cannot freeze. Instead, it will get super thick.
Travis also explained a maple tree takes 30 years to grow and become tappable. Each tree at Paul Family Farms is only tapped three times per year. Some trees on the farm have been tapped for over 100 years.
Syrup tubing connecting the maple trees
COMMUNITY COLLABORATIONS AND WORDS TO LIVE BY
The Paul Family Farms has expanded their maple syrup into several different products including an aged bourbon barrel flavored syrup, cinnamon-infused syrup, and even a habanero infused syrup. They also collaborate with local businesses to create ice creams, beers, and whiskey.
Being rooted in their community is important to Travis and his family. Each year they choose a nonprofit organization that is locally based and donate a portion of their profit to them. Recently they’ve donated to farmer’s markets affected by COVID-19, local fire companies, schools, and to those struggling to receive jobs.
Paul Family Farms is supported by a fantastic community of businesses and retailers. In the words of Travis, their greatest accomplishment is “being in business for 150 years and constantly evolving.”
The biggest inspiration behind Paul Family Farms is taking care of their community and doing the right thing. Travis shared some words of wisdom that have become the mantra for their business,
“You never have to think about doing the right thing. If you have to think about it, then it’s probably not the right thing.”
Paul Family Farms is an insured customer at FLIP. Learn more about Paul Family Farms and their one-of-a-kind maple syrup on their website. For more Information about FLIP or food business insurance, take a look at our online insurance programs or contact one of our licensed insurance agents today!