About the only place on Nutting Farm where sugar maple trees aren’t growing is out of the fieldstone piles, exposed every few acres by a hole in the lush canopy. In silent but permanent testimony, these fieldstone mounds exclaim the backbreaking effort of colonial farmers to transform the deep Northeast Kingdom forest into lush pasture to graze sheep, and cows. By the mid-19th Century, 80% of Vermont’s land area had been cleared.
A winding half-mile climb from the main road, through the covered bridge across the roaring Pacific Brook didn’t suit farm industrialization after World War II, and by the 1950s, Nutting Farm sold its last dairy cow. The forest eagerly retook itself, first as shrubs, which were overtaken by quick-growing softwood species, and those overtaken in succession by hearty maple, birch, cherry, and other hardwoods.
Today, Nutting Farm’s pastures have reverted to apex hardwood forests – an ideal “sugarbush,” blessed by rich soil, high elevation, abundant water, daylong hilltop sunlight, and not so many rocks.