Seven Generations of Stewardship

Arnold stands in front of a maple tree that his family has been tapping for over 300 years.

Arnold stands in front of a tree that his family has been tapping for over 150 years. He built that sugarhouse in the background when he was 13.

There is one particular shaggy-barked old maple, tucked away in a high old sugar bush in Vermont that members of the Coombs family have been tapping for more than one hundred fifty years. While the days of collecting sap using draft horses and sleighs are long gone, the approach to farming and caring for the forest that has guided us across seven generations endures: do right by the forest, and it will do right by you.

That old tree is a powerful symbol of our success in following that adage.

Since the mid-1800’s, the Coombs family has been acting as responsible stewards of the forest, following a ‘sustainable’ approach to agriculture long before anyone had a specific name for it – or could conceive of any other way to farm. As part of a fabric of nearly 8000 maple farmers who are all preserving maple forests and keeping land free from sprawl, Coombs Family Farms is doing more than making maple. We are helping to preserve crucial habitat for thousands of distinct plants and animals that need large intact tracts of forest to survive.

Coombs Family, 1920

That’s Arnold’s great-grandfather on the far right.

More than three hundred years after our family started sugaring, seventh generation maple farmer Arnold Coombs and Coombs Family Farms are still going strong. While many things in the maple business have changed, there’s one thing you can bet on: every year, ten or so gallons of maple will come from that old shaggy tree that was first tapped by Arnold’s great, great grandfather — back in the days when the best way to chase the chill of early spring in the mountains from your bones was a warm fire in the sugar house.

The Coombs farm truck from the 1950s.

The Coombs farm truck from the 1950s.

Nurturing the forest for seven generations

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