Written and Photographed by Greg Camillone
“Tapping trees since 1955,” Soukup Farms welcomes you with an atmosphere rich in unique history. Third-generation maple-syrup producers Mark and Jennifer Soukup have taken a business that was started as a hobby many years ago and actively expanded it. Their operation includes a new sugarhouse and more than 3,000 taps in three sugar bushes. On the property you’ll find a farm store nestled inside a rustic red barn, filled with the Soukups’ maple syrup and various Hudson Valley–made products. While on the premises, you may spot two sweet little girls, Molly and Emma, patrolling the farm and helping out any way they can.
“I’m always around my kids,” said Jennifer, who loves producing maple syrup full time. “Work is just across the street, and even though I work really long hours, it never feels like work.”
Others are invited to join the family-friendly atmosphere at a variety of events hosted on the farm. Touch-A-Tractor has become the biggest event of Soukoup Farms, now expanded to two Sundays during the fall season.
“We have a lot of old tractors. Kids can come, climb up and take pictures,” Jennifer said.
Harvest Festival is a two-day event filled with hayrides, a corn maze and other fun activities for the entire family to enjoy. Jennifer has noticed families returning year after year, bringing along more friends each time.
“I like when families come pumpkin picking…that tradition of always going to the same farm every fall to get your pumpkins,” Jennifer said. “My favorite thing my brother made for Harvest Festival is actually a giant yardstick. It will have the date of each festival, so you can take a picture of your kid each year to see [how they’ve grown].”
The events are enticing, but don’t visit Soukup Farms without experiencing the delicacy of their maple syrup. They produce grades in Golden, Amber, Dark and Very Dark. Further satisfy your taste buds with their unique products like Maple Cream, Maple Cotton Candy and Maple Lollipops. Their biggest hit? Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup, which is aged in bourbon barrels for eight months at Denning’s Point Distillery in Beacon, NY. Some Soukup family favorites include indulging in Zoe’s Ice Cream with a drizzle of their maple syrup, or mixing it in with their morning oatmeal.
To make such rich, savory maple syrup, the Soukups collect the sap and boil it into the right concentration. The sap comes in at 1.5 to 2 percent sugar content, which is then increased by boiling out the water. The ratio of maple sap to maple syrup is 40 to 50 gallons of raw sap to make one gallon of syrup. Utilizing tubes, Soukup Farms is able to collect sap in a bigger volume and save time from collecting buckets.
Mark and Jennifer’s craft for maple-syrup production wouldn’t be the same without the mentorship of Mark’s father, Brud, who passed away in January. A dedicated farmer and a passionate family man, Brud demonstrated what life is all about on the farm. To learn more about Soukup Farms, visit soukupfarms.com. █