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Genesee County's Newest Maple Producer!

by Guest Blogger: Thomas Tiefel

Bergen, NY - The beginning of a new era on the historic Dean Farmstead has officially begun.

My name is Thomas Tiefel and I am the historian for the little town of Bergen, NY. I also own the 100-acre Dean Farmstead. I’ve spent most of my life in the saddle and some time on the Batavia Downs racing circuit. Today, my family and I use the Dean Farmstead as an equestrian facility and hay producer. I had no idea what goes into this syrup-making business aside from how to put it on my pancakes but was willing to learn. A sugar bush on the farmstead dates back to the late 1800s which also included a sugar shack. In addition, discovered in my town’s archives, there are written accounts of the local children gathering there in the early 1900s after school to dip their fingers into the syrup as it was being made. After 26 years of owning this historic farm, my genealogist, Jodi Fisher suggested I resurrect the syrup end of it and use the historical background to produce, educate about this local piece of history, and offer the syrup in small batches.

It all started around 1898 when 23-year-old Calvin Nathan Dean decided he was going to tap some trees in a sugar bush on the North Bergen farm his family founded in 1834. Over the years, his operation grew and a “sugar house” was built in the 1920s. It’s estimated that during its peak operations, Calvin processed over 1000 gallons of sap producing 30-40 gallons of syrup per season. It’s said that operations ceased in 1953 just a few years before Calvin’s death. Over time, no one is really sure what happened to the sugar house. Not a trace of the building remains except for a section of the fieldstone and cement evaporator foundation, evaporator fragments, and the rock pile from Calvin clearing the original build site. After 26 years, I’ve finally decided to bring this farm’s history back to life. We’re tapping some of the exact trees that Calvin had done so many years ago. Today, the sugar bush has grown to over 200+ trees. 

Later this year, I would like to reproduce the sugar shack and graduate to a wood-fired evaporator. My mission is to display and promote the history behind the production. So far, our small one-gallon batches have been superb!

Calvin Dean would definitely be proud that his legacy lives on 125 years later!

Harford House Barn & Livery
7547 South Lake Road
Bergen, NY 14416
585-494-0080

Go Art!
201 East Main Street
Batavia, NY 14020
585-343-9313

A small quantity will be made this year, and will be available for sale at The Harford House Barn & Livery, our local museum, as well as GO ART! in 8 and 12-ounce glass bottles with the label paying homage to the man that started it all. Call ahead for hours; syrup will be available while supplies last.

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