New Middlebury businesss is all about maple
MIDDLEBURY — Longtime maple syrup producer Rayce Burnham of Cornwall had been looking for a spot in which to consolidate his boiling operation. He had acquired a 2.5-foot-by-8-foot evaporator that needed a bigger home, and he wasn’t financially prepared to build a place of his own.
That’s when his mom, April Burnham, stepped up. The Burnhams noticed that the former home of Red Clover Produce at 1124 Route 7 South in Middlebury (next to Woodware) was vacant. The building was more than Rayce needed for his relatively small sugarworks, but April and friend Leslie Randall decided to make a leap of faith, resources and time. They agreed to open their own store in the part of the building that Rayce didn’t need.
“This was Rayce’s dream,” April Burnham said. “He talked me and my best friend into doing the store.”
Fortunately, Rayce Burnham is a builder by trade, so he was able to bring the Route 7 building up to speed — which he did, sporadically, over the course of two years in between other jobs and chores.
“I picked away at it as I had time,” he said.
Thus was born Burnham Maple Farm & Market, which recently held its grand opening. It is a one-stop shop for all things maple — from jerky to cookies.
The results of the trio’s hard work is evident.
RAYCE BURNHAM RUNS the sugaring operation at the new Burnham Maple Farm and Market in Middlebury. The syrup is featured in many of the shop’s maple products.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
Maple products from A to Z are neatly stacked on a variety of shelves, as are a variety of other products that aren’t designed for the palate. Thanks to their association with various Addison County crafters, April and Leslie are able to offer hand-made sweaters, jewelry, artwork, pottery, hand-woven baskets, walking sticks, kids’ toys, potholders and cosmetic bags, among other things.
But maple, that sweet golden nectar of the Green Mountain State, is the dominant theme at the new store.
Come sugaring season, Rayce will bring in sap collected from a 25-acre sugarbush that he works in Cornwall. He’ll boil that sap, with customers invited to watch, in his stainless steel evaporator, releasing an unmistakable aroma throughout the store. The resulting syrup will, of course, form the foundation of many of the products offered at Burnham Maple Farm & Market. It’s an impressive maple product list that includes year-round creemees, truffles, peanut butter, sugar, cream, tea, fudge, pies, candies, jam, popcorn and even maple-scented candles.
Other edibles available through the store — some of it seasonal — include sweet corn and other fresh produce, apples, organic jams, Charlie Mraz’s honey and grass-fed, hormone-free beef. The three partners will also put together and ship gift baskets for various holidays. Those baskets will include their own wares, plus other items the customer might want — such as a turkey or ham.
The store held a soft opening in mid-August.
“Business has been getting better and better,” April Burnham said on Thursday. “The foliage is really helping right now.”
“The community has been amazing,” Randall added.
The trio plans to have a store website up and running by the end of this year. The store is currently open Wednesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
“We’re having fun — even on the slow days,” April Burnham said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].