(This story was first published in the June 6, 2013 edition of the Vermont Standard.)
By Katy Savage
As a baby, Chris Kendall’s playpen was set up inside his father’s sugar house in South Woodstock. Each spring Kendall spent his days and nights at the sugar house, boiling sap with his father.
“It’s something I’ve been doing my whole life,” Kendall said. “It’s kind of burnt into me.”
The soon-to-be Woodstock Union High School graduate wants to own his own sugaring business, so he plans to follow in his father, Chip Kendall’s footsteps. Chip started his own sugaring operation the year he graduated high school in 1976. Kedron Valley Sugar Makers produced more than 2,000 gallons of syrup last year.
Chip didn’t push his son to the sugaring business. He was surprised when Kendall announced he wanted to help with sugar production last year.
Kendall works up to 60 hour a week in addition to going to school full-time. He became the farm manager at Sugar Moon Hill farm in Woodstock last year. He hays in the summer and makes syrup in the spring.
Kendall has held a steady job on top of going to school since he was a 15.
“He acts more as an adult than a lot of other teenagers do,” his teacher Roberta Roy aid. “I’m really proud of that he’s been able to do…it’s not a typical teenage thing.”
Peg Boylan, another of Kendall’s teachers said Kendall is a role model for other students. “I think he’s taught a lot of kids he works with,” Boylan said. “They see he’s saving money and he’s able to buy things.”
Last year was the first time Kendall made maple syrup one his own. He produced 400 gallons at Sugar Moon Hill farm and he made most of the syrup at Kedron Valley Sugar Makers. “When he was younger, Chris was turning valves he wasn’t supposed to,” Chip said. “Now he’s older, he’s turning valves he is supposed to.” Kendall, a seventh generation South Woodstock Vermonter wants to stay in Vermont after he graduates.
Kendall isn’t sure what he’ll call his sugaring business, but he doesn’t want to start anything until he has enough land leases for 20,000 taps. He said he’ll be looking at large properties, at least 100 acres. Kendall hopes to produce 10,000 gallon of syrup his first year. He said he’ll sell sap and save money before producing his own syrup.
Making maple syrup is in his blood.
“I was brought up doing it and always looked forward to that time of year,” Kendall said.
Kendall was previously a farmhand at Farmstead Cheese Company. Kendall, an independent person who likes to be on his own, is all business when it comes to working.
“He’s grown up maturity-wise,” Boylan said. “He’s discovered who he is and what he wants. For him to see that picture of his future is great.”
Kendall graduates this June.