It's Maple Syrup Time: Behind the Taps at Mount Cabot Maple

2 people in front of a sugar house with snow on the ground and a wood pile to the right.

On a steep slope on the edge of Mt. Cabot in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, there sits a maple operation with a long history and a new legacy, Mount Cabot Maple.  Founded in 2005, Mount Cabot Maple produces a limited amount of single sourced organic syrup each year from trees that have been supplying sap since the 1800’s. Fast forward to 2020, when Morgan Hill, who grew up on the land, had the privilege and opportunity to purchase the business from its founder. With Sophie Earll, her partner in all things, Morgan and Sophie now own and operate Mount Cabot Maple together. As their new label proudly states, the business is “Women Run. Queer Crafted. Family Owned.” Only 30 years old and in a predominantly male industry,  the two are figuring out how to navigate the trade, create the business they want, and forge ahead together.

A maple tree that has been killed by an infestation of forest tent caterpillars

At its peak, the forest once had 8,000 taps. In 2016 & 2017,  it was devastated by an infestation of forest tent caterpillars and healthy trees decreased to 3,000, resulting in a 62% decline in syrup production. The forest is now back up to almost 4,000 taps, but Sophie, a certified arborist, says that in her lifetime, the forest might never be at the same capacity it was before the blight. When they walk the land they see that reality. For every tree they are able to tap they must pass over one or two. They are working harder for every single tap, and constantly think about the way the environment affects the ecosystem and their livelihood. As the next generation of maple sugarmakers on Mount Cabot, they strive to help the forest recover and thrive.

a white person with a hammer in one hand and maple tubing in the other tapping a maple tree. There is snow in the background.

“The gushing of sap right now is so rewarding. It’s just so satisfying. Actually making the syrup is incredible, it's such a weird, magical process.”
-Morgan Hill 

A person in front of a maple syrup evaparator
Even though they are at the mercy of mother nature, and so many things can fail at any time, Morgan and Sophie are drawn to the work. The quality of life, the challenges and demands of sugaring, and the land itself continue to pull them in. Many people don’t realize just how physically demanding sugaring is, and the vast extremes that the farmer is exposed to. In Morgan’s words “we're on the side of a mountain and you walk miles in snowshoes with a backpack, and a set of tools that I’ve got to use with my bare hands in 10 degree weather. And you know, I’m just hucking it from this place to the next and like a lot of times I think 'oh i'm just going to take a step this way' and then suddenly I'm on my back in three feet of snow.” Sophie adds that “it really incorporates endurance and moving through grander spaces, it’s very athletic.” Morgan emphasizes that “sugaring pushes the understanding and capabilities of a person. You have to be well coordinated to move through the landscape and resilient, because you are going to get beat up. It’s a lot of extreme temperature change. Either you are hiking miles through the cold, or boiling in front of a massive furnace, or bottling and everything you touch is 200 degrees.”  
A female presenting white person on an atv in the woods, with a large black plastic container on top of the vehicle, and plastic tubbing sticking out.
Brand new to business ownership, Morgan & Sophie had so many questions and unknowns.  At the same time Sophie and Morgan took over the business, CAE was beginning to work with the Agricultural Viability Alliance (AVA) to pilot an initiative that would allow for New York and New England Agricultural Service Providers to develop a broader community of professional practitioners of farm business support. This initiative allowed CAE business advisors to expand the geographic area in which they work to include farmers in New Hampshire, such as Mount Cabot Maple. Sophie and Morgan spent much of 2021 working with CAE’s Farm Business Planner, Silene DeCiucies, and Farm and Food Business Advisor, Daniel Keeney, and as Morgan puts it “It’s been truly indispensable just to know that there is someone we can ask questions, and that they care, is huge!” CAE was also able to connect them with additional specialized support with bookkeeping, marketing and branding. “...when you are doing something new and scary and different, to have that support, someone who will figure it out with you, has been wonderful” Morgan said. Now that they are at the point where they understand how the business is doing and their profitability, they can focus on a longer term business plan and strategy.  Sophie feels like “we’ve been part of this network of farmers and people in a similar industry. CAE has given us this understanding into the economics of actually running a farm business.”
A white hand is holding up a shot glass filled with maple syurp in front the evaperator with steam rising off of it.

For Sophie and Morgan it’s about more than just their business and the two of them on the land. In addition to a healthy and sustainable syrup operation, they want to create a collaborative and productive property. The dream is for the property to be a space for their community, and a place where people can be in a different kind of relationship with land. They envision a space for people who don’t haven't traditionally had access to land to have a space; where all can feel safe, and for a place where connection to each other and to the land is fostered. Two years into operating the business, they feel confident, knowing they can tackle problems and do the hard work. Overall, they feel hopeful knowing they have what they need, resources they can tap, and the ability to share their space with others.  

Learn more about the farm and purchase their single sourced wood fired syrup, sugar, and maple cream at Single Source Organic Syrup (
All photos provided by Mount Cabot Maple